Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Western history writers gathering in Kanab, Utah

This info was passed along by our old pal at the Utah Arts Council, Guy Lebeda:

Kanab will reach back to its literary roots when it hosts the first Writers of the Purple Sage retreat for Western history writers on October 8-9. In 1907 and 1908, struggling writer Zane Grey visited Kanab to gather information for his earliest Western novels and left armed with everything he needed to write Riders of the Purple Sage, perhaps the greatest novel of the Old West ever written. Now writers of historic fiction and non-fiction from throughout the region will travel again to Kanab and Utah’s redrock country to learn how to get their works published from award winning authors, publishers, editors and researchers.

One of the keynote speakers will be Will Bagley who has written and edited more than twenty books on overland emigration, frontier violence, railroads, mining, and the Mormons. He lectures widely and has appeared in more than a dozen films, including the American Experience episode of “The Mormons” on PBS. Between 2000 and 2004, The Salt Lake Tribune published more than 200 of his columns and articles. Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows won Best Books awards from the Western History Association, the Denver Public Library, Westerners International, and the Western Writers of America Spur Award. So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Oregon and California Trails, 1812–1848, the first of four volumes of “Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails,” is his most recent book.

Also keynoting the writers retreat will be Jana Richman, the award-winning author of two books. The first is The Last Cowgirl, a novel about a woman and her relationship with her family. The novel is set during the years leading up to and following the nerve gas leaks near Dugway Proving Ground that poisoned local livestock and blighted the rural lifestyle of local ranching communities. This novel won the 2009 Willa Award for Contemporary Fiction and the 2009 Utah Artys Award for Best Fiction. Her other book is Riding in the Shadows of Saints: A Woman’s Story of Motorcycling the Mormon Trail, a memoir that chronicles her emotional connection to pioneer women of her family who travelled this route from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City.

Also presenting will be James M. Aton, author of John Wesley Powell- His Life and Legacy; John R. Alley, Executive Editor of Utah State University Press; Kent Powell, Managing Editor of Utah Historical Quarterly; Janet Seegmiller, Special Collections Librarian at Southern Utah University’s Gerald R. Sherratt Library and Guy Lebeda, Literary Arts Coordinator for the Utah Arts Council.

Writers of the Purple Sage is a joint endeavor of Utah State History and the Center for Education, Business and the Arts with generous support from Canyon Book, Willow Canyon Outdoor, Dixie State College, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Kanab Chamber of Commerce, Kanab City, Kane County Office of Tourism, Southern Utah University, Southwest Applied Technology College, Utah Arts Council, Utah Cultural Heritage Council, and the Utah Humanities Council.

Existing or aspiring writers can register online at For more information, contact Kelly Stowell at (435) 819-0443 or by email at