surprise bitch

Romance Novelist Susan Meachen Un-Unalives Herself

Susan Meachen (not pictured) un-Gone’d herself. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Update, January 17 at 12 p.m.: An interview with Susan Meachen in the New York Times contends that she did not write a post in 2020 claiming, falsely, that she had committed suicide nor was it her idea. On September 10, Meachen had taken a large dose of Xanax and “was not cognitive or responsive,” according to her husband, Troy Meachen. He then instructed their 22-year-old daughter to announce her death online. “I told them that she is dead to the indie world, the internet, because we had to stop her, period,” he told the Times, referring to the toll that online drama in the indie-romance community had on Meachen’s mental health. He says he’ll “take 100 percent of the blame” for the incident. The Times also spoke to Sai Marie Johnson, another indie-romance author who offered to edit Meachen’s final book for free after her alleged death. Johnson filed a report to the cybercrime unit of the FBI, and the Times confirms that on January 16, Meachen received a visit from police at her home in Benton, Tennessee. Meachen tells the Times that her family did not receive “substantial donations” after her death announcement and that she has offered detectives access to her bank account. “I’m sorry for their mourning, but from a legal standpoint, I did nothing wrong,” she tells the Times.

The original story, published on January 6, follows.

Van Gogh. Dickinson. Mr. Peanut. Many great artists and thinkers go unrecognized in their lifetimes, only for their works to transcend obscurity after their deaths. Self-published romance novelist Susan Meachen appears to have taken those stories to heart, attempting to generate posthumous success while still very much … humous. In September 2020, Meachen’s “daughter” allegedly posted from the novelist’s account to her Facebook group, ominously named the Ward, to announce that Meachen had committed suicide. On January 2, 2023, Meachen, who bills herself as the “Author of Perfectly Flawed Romances,” redacted her own death.

“I debated on how to do this a million times and still not sure if it’s right or not. There’s going to be tons of questions and a lot of people leaving the group I guess,” she wrote in the Ward. “But my family did what they thought was best for me and I can’t fault them for it. I almost died again at my own hand and had to go through all that hell again. Returning to The Ward doesn’t mean much but I am in a good place now and I am hoping to write again. Let the fun begin.”

Obviously, Meachen alluding to real mental-health issues in the 2023 post is something that should be taken seriously and believed. At the same time, “Returning to The Ward” after surfacing from your own faux suicide and telling your followers “Let the fun begin” is the sort of villainous turn you normally don’t see outside of fiction. As Meachen wrote on the cover of her August 2020 book, His Wicked Way, “Being wicked was never so much fun.” But for once, Meachen’s fan base didn’t like her storytelling. For one, lying about a topic as sensitive and prevalent as suicide is a triggering thing to do. Meachen’s fellow author and online acquaintance Samantha A. Cole messaged Meachen after the post to ask what was going on, to which the undead author responded, “Nothing. I simply want my life back. My family was in a bad place and did what they thought was best for me.” “Excuse me while I now go get shitfaced in memory of coworkers and friends who I know really did commit suicide,” Cole wrote when posting screenshots of the conversation.

In a thread, Cole recounts how in the months following Meachen’s alleged “death,” the author’s Facebook account remained active, allegedly marshaled by her daughter, making numerous posts insinuating that Meachen was “bullied in the book world to the point of suicide.” This sparked further grief, guilt, and finger-pointing in Meachen’s corner of the romance-lit community. Furthermore, Meachen appears to have lied about taking her life as a way of gaining money and book sales. In October 2020, her “daughter” posted a link to purchase Meachen’s “final” book, Love to Last a Lifetime, and encouraged her readers and fellow writers to purchase it in her honor. Furthermore, Twitter user @Draggerofliars alleges that authors raised and donated $1,700 for Meachen’s burial expenses. BookTok is currently losing its mind.

And that final book? It opens with an epigraph, in which Meachen quotes herself, calling it an “AUTHOR MOTO [sic].” It reads:

“‘Be Unique Be You Be Beautiful’ ~Author Susan Meachen.”

Words to not-die by.

If you (or anyone you know) are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Romance Novelist Susan Meachen Explains Un-Unaliving Herself