Susan Spann is the award-winning author of CLIMB (Prometheus Books, 2020) and the Hiro Hattori mystery novels (Minotaur / Seventh Street Books), featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo.
Susan began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).
A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.
In 2017, Susan made the bold decision to face her fears and climb 100 Japanese mountains in a single year, but while preparing to leave the United States, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She chronicles her fight to overcome cancer and fear, while learning what it means to “live your dream” in CLIMB: Leaving Safe & Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan (Prometheus Books, August 2020).
Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery also inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest.
Susan’s first novel, Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery (Minotaur Books, 2013) was named a Library Journal mystery debut of the month and was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel.
The second and third Shinobi Mysteries, Blade of the Samurai (Minotaur Books, 2014) and Flask of the Drunken Master (Minotaur Books, 2015), also released to widespread critical and reader acclaim.
In 2016, Susan’s mystery series–now called the Hiro Hattori Novels–moved to Seventh Street Books, with the August release of the fourth installment, The Ninja’s Daughter (2016) followed by Betrayal at Iga (2017) and Trial on Mount Kōya (2018), which pays dual homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and to Susan’s love for Kōyasan, one of Japan’s most sacred mountains.
Ghost of the Bamboo Road released in November 2019 – a spooky season perfect for Hiro’s encounter with a legendary Japanese ghost, and the most recent Hiro Hattori novel, Fires of Edo, is available now wherever books are sold.
Currently, Susan is working on the ninth installment of the Hiro Hattori mysteries and a second work of narrative nonfiction about hiking the Kumano Kodo, a UNESCO World Heritage pilgrim trail in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture.
Now a resident of Japan, Susan lives in Tokyo with Oobie, the cat who served as the inspiration for Hiro and Father Mateo’s cat, “Gato.” When not writing or mountain climbing, she sharing her love of Japanese nature, history, and culture through her blog and social media feeds. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter (@SusanSpann), where she shares exciting stories and breathtaking images from her travels in Japan.
Susan was the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year, and is a former president of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is represented by literary agent Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.
For appearance information, and to watch her latest video interviews, check out the appearances page!