COLA Connections Newsletter: November 2014

RIT Alumna Presents Reading from Her Newly Published Short Story Collection

Susan Hope Lanier might have never thought she’d be back at RIT, let alone give a reading to an enthralled crowd of her former professors. "It's exciting to see how much things have changed and how much things have stayed the same," she said upon her return. Lanier graduated here in 2008, but returned to town on October 9th, 2014 for a reading from her debut book “The Game We Play.”


Backing up, Lanier wasn’t always an acclaimed and published author. After completing a fine arts photography degree at our university, she moved to Chicago and finished an MFA in creative writing at Columbia College. The roots of this passion for writing can be traced to her heavy interest in language; she took so many English courses in her undergraduate work at RIT that it more than made up her Minor. Discovering literature and writing through these courses clearly struck a chord with her. The interdisciplinary nature of our institute allowed her to pursue separate fields of study to supplement her primary focus, which later came to fruition with her second career becoming her first.


“The Game We Play” is a collection of ten short stories dwelling on the human condition, exploring modern relationships and connections. The narratives, largely inspired by her time in Chicago, revolve around “desperate decision making,” in her words. The book’s intricate prose has earned her comparisons by her former professors to literary greats such Raymond Carver and J.D. Salinger. Trickles of hope run through stark tales of anxieties and failed relationships, wrought with vivid descriptions of setting and character. The common thread through the stories is, as the title suggests, the games we play with each other and ourselves. Lanier is hooked on the idea of the interior versus exterior lives we lead, and how those two are ornately intertwined.


Lanier hasn’t completely abandoned her photography background, and is still active in the field. She has simply found a way to tell stories in multiple mediums. She remains Chicago-based and intends to continue her work as a writer there.


This book shows that immersions and minors within the College of Liberal Arts can play just as important a role as a major in determining a career path. In addition to the RIT reading, Lanier led ones at downtown Rochester music venue the Bug Jar as well as Writers & Books, a literary center dedicated to the preservation of reading and writing. Support RIT alumni and dedicated storytelling by picking up her book, available from a multitude of online retailers.