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Why book world is outraged after Susan Meachen faked her own death

Meachen will have to answer to friends and colleagues as to why she apparently faked her own death.

Meachen will have to answer to friends and colleagues as to why she apparently faked her own death. Photo: Facebook/Susan Meachen

The book world is in one giant meltdown after aspiring, yet relatively unknown Tennessee romance writer Susan Meachen suddenly re-emerged on social media after apparently committing suicide two years ago.

“Susan Meachen faking her own suicide and then wandering blithely back online because she “got bored” is so exquisitely insane,” author Gretchen Felken-Martin wrote.

“Romance writers really are operating on another plane of reality.”

The amateur sleuth who exposed the deception earlier this week, a Twitter user who goes by the handle @draggorofliars, told The New Daily: “I don’t have any details about the situation, I just did some detective work on social media and public accounts to put together the situation”.

“How’s this for a plot twist? In 2020, Susan Meachen’s family announced she was dead on Facebook. But she is very much alive and writing,” wrote media company Entrepreneur.

And this, for the unintended consequences angle: “Just waiting for the insurance fraud and negligence folks to get her. You can’t fake your own death and have your family solicit funds for a funeral that never happened. Where’d that money go?”

As 19th century author Sir Walter Scott famously penned in his (coincidentally) epic romance poem, Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive.”

Indeed.

Let’s unpack what happened.

A member of Meachen’s family – the author of about 12 novels – signed into her Facebook profile and announced her death by suicide in October 2020 on a private page called The Ward, following bullying and harassment from the romance novel community.

“Sorry thought everyone on this page knew my mom passed away,” her daughter supposedly wrote.

“Dead people don’t post on social media I’ve been on this account for a week now finishing her last book, my wedding gift from her.”

Now, more than two years later, Meachen – a self-described author of “perfectly flawed romances” – decided she wanted her life back and returned to Facebook to reveal that she was never actually dead in the first place.

“I debated on how to do this a million times and still not sure if it’s right or not,” Meachen wrote in her return-from-the-grave comeback to the group on January 2.

“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 they 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.”

What is going on?

USA Today best-selling author Samantha A Cole of “sexy, smart romance suspense” novels including Leather and Lace and Watching from the Shadows, regularly chatted with Meachen online.

She was shocked at the time of her apparent death, and expressed even deeper shock at her sudden reappearance on her Facebook story.

“I”m not sure where to start. Last night, I got a message from Rhonda Butterbaugh [another romance novelist] asking if I remember Susan Meachen (of course I did), and within the hour, I was horrified, stunned, livid and felt like I’d been kicked in the gut and the chest at the same time.

“I still sick to my stomach.”

Cole said after Meachen’s alleged death, there was “devastation from her friends, fellow authors and readers”.

“Allegedly she’d been bullied in the book world to the point of suicide. What followed was rants from said daughter about how horrid the book world had been to Susan,” Cole said.

“We grieved for the loss of the woman we considered a friend. I personally was harassed by another author who loves to create drama, claiming I was one of the authors who bullied Susan and drove her to suicide.

“I was heartbroken when I realised it had been a few months since I’d chatted with [her] … and wished I’d reached out sooner.”

Cole got a second chance to message the very-much-alive, cat-loving Meachen after she commented on her comeback post in The Ward.

“Apparently she’s not dead … [here’s] the chat I just had with a dead person.”

She asked if the entire story had been made up, only to be invited to message her privately instead.

Cole’s first question, shared in screenshots, drew from her disbelief and confusion: “What is going on????”

Meachen wrote back an hour later with less urgency: “Nothing,” she responded, as if she didn’t just spend two years pretending to be dead.

“I simply want my life back. My family was in a bad place and did what they thought was best for me.”

Cole showed little empathy, but somewhere there’s a great romance novel suspense plot brewing.

“Excuse me while I now go get sh-tfaced in memory of co-workers and friends who I know really did commit suicide.”

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