Writer Susan Orlean Susan Orlean is a staff writer at The New Yorker. In 1994 she wrote a profile of David Friedman, one of the Friedman sons. David was known as Silly Billy, a popular clown who was a favorite at children's birthday parties in New York City. Orlean wrote the profile before the story came out surrounding David's father and brother. She is also the author of the best-selling book, The Orchid Thief.