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Susan Kraus

Susan Kraus








Susan Kraus, M.S.W., L.S.C.S.W. A therapist for over three decades, a mediator for two... and a writer since she first held a pencil. Susan was born and raised in New Jersey and never expected to live in Kansas.  She came to Topeka to work (1978-1986) with the Washburn University Counseling Center where she was their first woman counselor. She loved the work and the people. Kansas stole her heart… and she has lived here ever since with her husband of  37 years, Frank Barthell, and their two children. 

Susan has graduate degrees in both English (California State University at Chico) and Social Work (University of Texas at Austin), and taught at both universities. She did post-graduate training in marriage and family therapy at the Menninger Clinic. She was a co-founder of The Family Center for Childbirth and Family Life Education in Topeka, and taught at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare (adjunct/graduate level) for 13 years. 
Susan has a private clinical practice with a focus on relationship/marital/divorce issues, autism spectrum disorders, and "what do I do with the rest of my life" conundrums. She mediates divorce, custody and elder care issues and has taught mediation skills. From 2007 -2014, she also worked as a counselor for the Department of Defense, with couples and families on Army and Air Force bases in Germany, the Azores, Hawaii, Alaska, Kansas and Missouri. 

But she never stopped writing. Kraus wrote non-fiction for many years, including advice columns for women and too many self-help features to count. She was published in Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Family Fun and other magazines for women and families. Her book reviews appeared in the Kansas City Star, Women's Review of Books, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy and the Journal of Social Work. 

Her lust for travel began as a naïve 16 year old exchange student in El Salvador, followed by a stint as an au pair in Paris, and a summer trekking Europe alone with a backpack and rail pass. Then "real life" intervened: graduate school, work as a therapist and mediator, marriage, kids, teaching, developing a clinical private practice … yet always finding any excuse for a road trip. She started travel writing in 1994, with a focus on family travel, doing a weekly regional travel column for three years for the Sunday edition of the K.C. Star. Her book, A Game Day Guide to Towns of the Big 12, was the first guidebook organized around the cities of a major university athletic conference, a result of her affection for college towns.  Her travel writing has appeared in Hemisphere's (United Airlines In-Flight), My Midwest (Midwest Airlines), Kaleidescope (Tokyo), Family Fun, Kansas!, San Franciso Chronicle, K.C. Star, Topeka Magazine, Lawrence Magazine, Sunflower Journeys, Huffington Post... and more. She is one of the very few Kansas members of the Society of American Travel Writers, and received the top writing award from their Central States division in both 2008 and 2009. She is particularly interested in the psychology of travel, solo travel for women, and making the most of travel after 60. 

Her novels are a  series set in a Kansas university town with a protagonist who is a therapist and mediator. She is the first to admit that she takes the old adage "Write what you know" to heart. In disguise as thriller and mysteries, the novels delve into the ambiguity and complexity of polarizing social issues. Her characters are ordinary people trying to manage the challenges of ordinary life. 

---Biography submitted by the author

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  


Travel Books in Print

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Writing Samples

---From All of God's Children

The thanksgiving exchage was set for 9am Thursday in front of the school. David would be with Mike until Saturday at 6 p.m. It was three full days, none of them in school, the longest he had ever been with Mike. And, while he had not shared this with his parents, nor Luke, Mike had told him that would be meeting other members of Mike's family.

"My parents and my sister and her husband and their two kids will be here for Thanksgiving," Mike had said, "I just wanted you to know so you won't be surprised. I know it's a lot to handle."

David had just nodded when Mike had told him, and then nodded "no" when Mike asked if he had any questions.

When Mike and David got back to Mike's house after the exchange, there was a bright red Toyota RAV in the driveway.

"My dad likes red cars," Mike said. "He says it reminds him of his name."

David had no idea what that meant but he didn't ask.

The smells hit David as soon as they opened the door.

It was like a bakery, only more intense. And there was music playing, bouncy-like music, but the words were in a different language. And he could see the table in the dining room and it was set with a lime-green table cloth and shiny dishes that David had not seen before. And the table was bigger than David remembered, pushing out into the living room.

"Estamos aqui," Mike called out.

Mike looked down and saw David staring at him, and, without meaning to, started to laugh.

"It's just Spanish, David. My parents are from El Salvador, so we speak Spanish some of the time. I guess I forgot to tell you."

When David looked back toward the kitchen, an older man and woman were standing in the doorway, staring at him. The man had gray hair and a mustache, and wore a bright red sweater. The woman also had gray hair, cut short. She was wearing a flower print dress with a big apron tied in front, and had a towel in hands that she was using to wipe her hands.

And then the woman started to cry.

"Ay, hijo, esta guapo como tu padre."

And then the man had tears that he was wiping at with a big handkerchief he pulled from his pants.

"Marta, mira. Tenemos un nieto. Es un milagro!"

David had no idea what was being said, but it seemed to be directed at him.

And then the woman walked slowly across the room and, without saying another word, put her arms around him and pulled him close. And he just stood there, feeling her soft body and wondering how the smells of a bakery could come from inside a person.

And Mike was saying, "Marta, c'mon, give the boy a break."

But she would not let go.

Later, when David would try to make sense of the day, it was a blur.

Read More

--- reprinted with author permission

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Author Interviews

Interview about Fall From Grace

Interview about All of God's Children

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Susan's Website

Susan's Professional Website

Susan's Facebook Page

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