Nearly 75 members of the Western Writers of America, Inc. (WWA) visited Payson recently to learn about our local Western heritage by touring the Zane Grey Cabin, the Rim Country Museum and the historic forest ranger station.
Upwards of a dozen docents of the Zane Grey Cabin and the Northern Gila County Historical Society greeted the special guests. The authors viewed exhibits ranging from the legendary Western writer Zane Grey, pioneer kitchens, sawmills and mining, to cowboys, cattle ranching, rodeos and firefighters.
The June 11 trip to Payson was scheduled in conjunction with the convention of the WWA held June 10-14 at Scottsdale's Chaparral Suites Resort.
Dick Wolfe, President of the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation, said, "We've been working with them for a couple of months and everything came out the way it was planned. The writers shook my hand and said they had a wonderful time."
Founded in 1953, the WWA promotes literature of the American West and grants prestigious Spur Awards for outstanding fiction and nonfiction writing highlighting the American West and regional history. Today, membership in the WWA tops 500.
Award-winning authors Elmer Kelton, Dusty Richards and Linda Jacobs were among the WWA guests participating in the Payson tour.
Mild-mannered Elmer Kelton, Texas-born in 1926, has authored over 40 novels spanning more than a half-century and was voted All-Time Best Western Author by the WWA. Four of Kelton's books, including "The Time It Never Rained" and "The Good Old Boys," earned the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Seven other novels were honored with WWA Spur Awards for best book of the year including "Eyes of the Hawk," "The Far Canyon" and "Buffalo Wagons."
Dusty Richards, author and WWA board member, was raised in Arizona and now resides in Arkansas.
In 2007, Richards received a Spur Award for "The Horse Creek Incident," as best paperback book of the year.
He also won a 2007 Spur Award for best short fiction of the year for the novella "Comanche Moon."
Linda Jacobs pens adventure novels related to firefighting, volcanoes and the outdoors. "Lake of Fire," the latest and third book in her Yellowstone Series, won the New Mexico Press Women's 2008 first place award in the excellence in communications category and reached finalist in the 2008 Spur Award competition in the mass market paperback category.