Sue Monk Kidd was born in Albany, Georgia and raised in the tiny town of Sylvester, Georgia, a place that later deeply influenced the writing of her first novel. Her original career was as a nurse and nursing instructor. Her first published book was God's Joyful Surprise (1988), a spiritual memoir. In 1996, she published another memoir, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, which had a groundbreaking effect within religious circles.
In her 40s, she decided to return to her earlier fiction writing, and enrolled in a graduate writing course at Emory University, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf and other writers' conferences. She wrote and published short stories in small literary journals for which she won several awards. Her first novel The Secret Life of Bees (2002) became a major hit, selling more than 6 million copies and spending more than 2½ years on the New York Times bestseller list. It was also published in 35 countries and is now widely used as a text in high school and college classrooms. The Secret Life of Bees was produced on stage in New York by The American Place Theater and adapted into a movie in 2008.
Sue's second novel, The Mermaid Chair (2005) sold nearly 2 million copies and was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It has been translated into 24 languages and was produced as a television movie by Lifetime.