Wyoming Arts Council

Johnson, Nesbitt, win Spur Awards

The Western Writers of America have announced the winners of its 2009 Spur Awards. Two Wyoming novelists were named winners. Craig Johnson of Ucross won the Best Western Short Novel category with Another Man’s Moccasins (Viking/Penguin). John D. Nesbitt of Torrington won in the Best Original Mass Market Paperback category for Trouble at the Redstone (Dorchester Publishing). Wyomingarts is not shy about pointing out that both writers are recipients of Wyoming Arts Council creative writing fellowships.

It also bears mentioning that several finalists are former Wyoming residents. Win Blevins’ book Dreams Beneath Your Feet (Forge Books/Tom Doherty) was a finalist in the short-novel category. A few years ago, Win moved from the Jackson area to Utah. Finalist in the Best Western Long Novel category was Joseph M. Marshall III, formerly of Casper and Sheridan, for The Long Knives are Crying (Fulcrum Publishing).

Craig Johnson, always the storyteller, related in his latest e-mail newsletter how he heard about the award. Let him tell it:

I had to hand dig my way through six-foot drifts down to the shop to get out my tractor so I could clear the ranch road yesterday-then I had to do it again today. I’ve got one of those old 8N tractors from 1948 when they thought that a front dump able to hold twice as much as a handheld snow shovel was quite the achievement.

I’d like to talk to those guys.

I struggled up to the house and collapsed on the porch, my furry Russian hat pushing down over my eyes in a dramatic interpretation of ‘portrait of the artist as dead rancher’. My wife came out and asked if I wanted a cup of coffee, and I replied that I preferred to die de-caffeinated.

It’s been a long winter, and to use the terms of the local paper The Buffalo Bulletin, the current storm “all but shut down the town and made life miserable for everyone”. My romance with the American West, and life in general was creeping toward ebb. I stumbled in the house, tacking against the wind, peeled off my Carhartt, my wool muffler, my Sorels, and slumped down in front of the computer to answer emails.

I hit the send/receive button and the first thing that popped up was a missive from The Western Writers of America, one of the only two writer’s organizations that will accept me. I figured it was something about membership elections, dues or something, but the header was from C.K. Crigger congratulating me on winning The Western Writer’s of America’s Spur Award for novel of the year, Another Man’s Moccasins.

I figured it was a joke.

As far as I could tell, C.K. wasn’t formally informing me of the award but just saying congrats. The Spur has had such prestigious winners as Larry McMurtry, Louis L’Amour, Elmer Kelton and my recently departed buddy Tony Hillerman. Not very many books from a series win the award, but it would be some pretty wonderful moccasins to walk in.

This evening, I got a phone call inviting me to Oklahoma City for the convention and ceremony.

So, I guess I did win. Doesn’t it figure that the cowboys and Indians would be the ones that came through?

Thank you all.

Sort By Category By Month By Year