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Writing Colorado

The New Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame recognizes excellence.

What do Stephen King, Madeleine Albright, Marilyn Van Derbur, and Clive Cussler have in common? Well, yes, they are all writers. They all have a Colorado connection. And they’ve all been honored as part of the inaugural class of the new Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame.

his was the brainchild of Judith Briles,” says Mara Purl of Colorado Springs, a founding board member of the new venture. Purl, an actress and author in her own right, is intimately involved in the books and publishing world, and notes that Briles is the best-selling author of 20 books herself, “but as board members, we decided we are not eligible for the honor.”

Although the Hall of Fame won’t have a physical site for now, the board is planning to put together a traveling exhibition for libraries and schools to showcase the honorees and their accomplishments.

The first group of inductees received their awards in September at a ceremony in Denver. The event will be held every other year with new inductees each time. Honorees are nominated by the public, board members, and various literary groups. The Denver Women’s Press Club helped with judging. Authors needed to have some significant connection to Colorado (lived here, still living here, writing about the state) with a substantial body of work of high quality.

The judges “did a lot of reading of resumes and books,” says Purl, who thinks the final list of inductees is “amazing.”

They include everyone from Stephen King, who lived here during the filming of The Shining, his thriller set at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, author of 13 books and whose first home in the United States was in Denver, where her father was a professor.

Some of the other premier inductees into the Hall of Fame include the following writers:

John Fielder: a photographer, environmentalist, and author of more than 40 image-based books on Colorado.

Margaret Coel: a mystery writer whose stories are set on the Wind River Reservation.

Jerry Jenkins: author of the popular “Left Behind” series.

John Dunning: creator of the Cliff Janeway crime novels with a bookseller’s theme.

Connie Willis: one of America’s top award-winning science fiction writers.

Helen Thorpe: former First Lady of Colorado and author of narrative nonfiction exploring the plight of refugees, immigrants, and survivors of foreign conflicts.

Clive Cussler: an author who has lived in Colorado for many years and is best known for his thrilling adventure stories of treasure hunting, often underwater.

Marilyn Van Derbur: a former Miss Colorado and Miss America who wrote about being a survivor of incest.

Louis L’Amour: wrote more than 100 classic novels that helped define the West.

Ann Haymond Zwinger: wrote about the natural world and environmental issues long before it was popular.

Sybil Downing: who wrote fact-based fiction based on Colorado’s history.

Mary Taylor Young: a naturalist and author of 18 books detailing the unique nature of Colorado.

Others being honored include Rex Burns, Ann Parker, W.C. Jameson, Jill Tietjen, Kris Tuala, George Cory Franklin, and Minnie Reynolds.

Also being given a special honor was Joyce Meskis, former owner (for 40 years) of The Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. Meskis got the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hall of Fame for her outstanding role in the community as an independent bookseller who supported authors and literacy in many ways.

The project is accepting nominations for the next class of honorees. If you know of a Colorado author who should be recognized or to learn more about this year’s honorees, visit coloradoauthorshalloffame.org.

Nominees must have been born in Colorado, lived in or currently live in Colorado, or write about the state. They should “have made significant and enduring contributions to writing in their genre; helped open new frontiers for writing styles, solutions, ideas or concepts; and inspired others by the breadth of their writing,” according to the nomination rules.

Some Good Reading

Here’s a selection of books from Hall of Fame authors you might want to try:

• Winter’s Child by Margaret Coel, the first in the Wind River mystery series set on an Indian reservation

• Fire in the Hole by Sybil Downing about the infamous Ludlow massacre

• The Bookman’s Wake by John Dunning and others in the Cliff Janeway mystery series

• Colorado –1870-2000 by John Fielder in which he replicates the historic photos of William Henry Jackson 130 years later

• The Shining by Stephen King, a horror story inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

• Sacketts Land by Louis L’Amour, the first in an 18-book classic Western series about a single family

• Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, arguably the most famous of her award-winning science fiction novels

• Beyond the Aspen Grove by Ann Zwinger, which started her lengthy series of environmental studies, complete with her own drawings