What The Living Do

Sex and death consume much of thirty-seven-year-old Brett Catlin’s life. Cole, ten years her junior, takes care of the former while her job disposing of roadkill addresses the latter. When a cancer diagnosis makes her question her worth, suspecting the illness is payback for the deaths of her father and baby sister, she begins a challenging journey of healing and self-discovery. Encounters with animals, both living and dead, help her answer the question, who is worth saving? 

What the Living Do is scheduled for release on March 19, 2024 by Regal House Publishing.

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“Masterfully, Susan Wadds entices readers with her stunning prose across a rich, complex emotional topography. What the Living Do is a brilliantly crafted portrait of a woman grappling with her demons and the challenges she must overcome to find hope, healing, and redemption. An incredible debut, this novel is moving and unforgettable and will resonate in your soul long after the final page.”
-Jennifer Manuel, author of The Heaviness of Things That Float and The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted

“Susan Wadds has written a fierce and fearless novel about a woman drawn to self-destruction yet desperate to live – and maybe even love. A deeply moving and memorable debut.”
Alissa York, author of Fauna and Far Cry

“Susan Wadds writes from a place of deep compassion. She understands her characters’ hearts and minds and because of that she is able to paint their landscape and allow them to pass through their rights of passage in an utterly convincing way.

What the Living Do unveils a poignant mirror, carefully formed to reassure its readers that the shadow-corners of their lives are both seen and understood.”
Nick Bantock, author of Griffin and Sabine, The Trickster’s Hat, and Dubious Documents

“Could you deal with survivor guilt and having been molested as a child? Brett Catlin has struggled for twenty-four years. How this strong woman copes and tries to make sense of her world and her relationships with people in it will take the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride so finely are the plot and the central character and her supporting cast drawn. Effortlessly weaving real-time and backstory the author lets Brett show us how events in her past have shaped her today. And it is today’s Brett who must face a life-and-death decision. You will ache for her. Not only is the story compelling in its emotional complexity, it is told in scintillating prose which on occasion, verges on the poetic. A must read.”
Patrick Taylor
Best-selling author; NY Times, USA Today, and The Globe & Mail.

The first two chapters of What the Living Do won Lazuli Literary Group’s writing contest, published in Azure Magazine both online and in print.

The editors wrote: “… Susan E. Wadds’ novel excerpt, What the Living Do, our latest contest winner, introduces readers to the life of a middle-aged woman at a crossroads. Wadds’ unsatisfied protagonist walks readers into a mysterious plot as she dates a younger man, works a job collecting roadkill on highways, and searches for meaning in the indigenous roots of North America.”

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One Way Home


Carrie, a lonely 15-year-old, attempts to reconcile her mother’s suicide by helping a young Indigenous woman. On a 5-day journey to a remote reserve the pair face racism, hunger, fatigue & attempted abduction while navigating the gulf between their respective cultures.


One Way Home begins as Carrie approaches her fifteenth birthday and the second anniversary of her mother’s death. She meets Meadow, a street person whose sorrowful, slightly amused, somewhat distant expression reminds her of her mother. With an urgent desire to help, and conscious of her longing for a friend, Carrie offers money and clothing. Indifferent to these offerings, Meadow states that she just wants to go home. This sparks hope in Carrie that she could actually help someone. Her two years of fending for herself after the death of her mother and her father’s subsequent depression, she feels, however misguidedly, capable of accompanying Meadow to her remote reserve.

On this journey by bus and on foot, the two girls encounter subtle and overt racism, a shock to the naïve Carrie. While lost in the forest after fleeing from an attempted abduction, hunger, thirst, and heavy rains threaten their survival.

As they navigate the misconceptions and preconceptions of their respective worlds, a tentative and tenuous bond forms between them, but will it endure?