You don’t have to be an avid reader to pick up one of these novels by a Denver area-based writer. These books are full of plot twists, interesting characters, and even familiar Colorado landscapes that are sure to provide a refreshing escape from reality. While not all authors were born in Denver, or even in Colorado, they all share the same love for the Centennial State and have made it their home whilst they contribute their creative work to readers across the world.
The River masterfully delves into an engaging plot that takes readers on a quest for wilderness survival. Two best friends are bonded through a love of the mountains and fishing, two hobbies that many Denver locals will be able to relate to. Despite having grown up in New York and spending much of his young adulthood in the Northeast, Peter Heller has since adopted Denver as his home base. Colorado natives will quickly take note of the ruggedness often found in Heller’s writing style, which displays a true passion for the outdoors.
Peter received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, which equipped him with the chops to go on to write a series of bestsellers, across both the fiction and nonfiction genres. Other books by the Denver author include The Dog Stars, The Painter, The Last Ranger, and Celine. Aside from his novel work, Peter Heller is also an avid poet. He contributes to NPR and has previously lent his skills to magazines such as Men’s Journal, Outside, National Geographic, and others.
For those who don’t often find themselves with the time or attention span to delve into a three-hundred-page novel, Andrea Gibson has several books of poetry that you won’t be able to put down. One of those is the award-winning Lord of the Butterflies, which is a collection that takes on loss, family, and romance. The emotion is raw and the imagery is thoughtfully crafted throughout the body of work. Andrea has multiple full-length poetry collections, including The Madness Vase, Take Me With You, and their newest release — You Better Be Lightning.
Gibson’s portfolio of writing has won multiple Denver Grand Slam titles and the top prize at the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Much of their work tackles complex topics such as gender norms, social issues, politics, and more. Since moving to Boulder in 1999, Andrea Gibson has built a career around activism and prose. In fact, they first tested the waters of a writing career at a Denver spoken-word open mic night.
Joseph Hutchison is another Denver-based poet, with nearly 20 books of collections to his name. His 16th collection, The World As Is, was several decades in the making and it gives voice to the experience of pain, passion, sorrow, and joy. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in ’72 and received an MFA from the University of British Columbia. Some of his most notable works include Marked Men, Bed of Coals, and Under Sleep’s New Moon.
Aside from his writing, Hutchison contributes to several programs at the University of Denver and has recently concluded his five-year tenure as the Poet Laureate of Colorado after being appointed by John Hickenlooper. In this role, Hutchison contributed to schools, libraries, and festivals, and even participated in readings at the State Capitol. His poems have been published in publications such as The Colorado Review, The Denver Quarterly, and American Poetry Review.
Nick Arvin is a Denver novelist who is no stranger to critical acclaim. Described as “a masterpiece,” Mad Boy is 238 pages in length but packs the punch of a much longer epic. The coming-of-age story is set during a period of wartime, promising readers plenty of action and drama. Arvin has written across the spectrum of novels and nonfiction and is a faculty member at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop based in Denver. Other notable works published by Arvin include Articles of War, The Reconstructionist, and In The Electric Eden.
Nick Arvin is a graduate of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has since gone on to be a published contributor to some of the nation’s most impressive literary journals. He has been the recipient of several Colorado Book Awards and has built up a respectable following within the state. Arvin is also an engineer, which lends itself to his writing in his capacity to craft highly researched, detailed plot lines.
Where Coyotes Howl is the newest novel published by Sandra Dallas. Released in 2023, the book is set in the High Plains and weaves a story of secrets, community, and enduring love. One of the major draws of the novel is the focus on the supporting characters. Instead of being sidelined to the plot of the story, they’re intricately drawn and add value to the trajectory of the book.
The career of Colorado’s Sandra Dallas inspires many. She began her career as a journalist covering the Rocky Mountain region. At the age of 50, she departed from her nonfiction work and turned to fiction. Now in her 80s, she has over 18 novels to her name. Despite being born in Washington D.C., many of her books are set in the western region of the nation. Dallas has been inducted into the Colorado Authors Hall of Fame and has shown no signs of slowing down in the near future. She and her husband split their time between Denver and Georgetown, Colorado.
Many readers consider Jon Krakauer a household name, having penned many bestselling non-fiction books. Titles including Into the Wild, Under the Banner of Heaven, and Into Thin Air have been adapted for the screen due to their immense popularity. Where Men Win Glory became a national bestseller and includes the raw authenticity that many readers have come to expect from Krakauer. The story follows the true-to-life journey of Pat Tillman, who walked away from an offer of millions to play in the NFL in order to enlist in the army in 2002.
Despite no longer actively working on adding to his impressive portfolio of books, Krakauer resides in nearby Boulder. His mountaineering past allows him to fit in well with the surrounding community, with their aptitude for hiking, climbing, and all things outdoors. Despite being one of the most famous authors to reside in the area, he keeps a notoriously low profile.
Winter’s Child is the final installment in Coel’s Wind River Mystery series. The series includes a total of 20 books, so readers are in luck if they enjoy a good mystery, as they’ll have plenty more to keep them busy throughout the year. The plot line follows a Wind River Reservation family who have embarked on the task of adopting the infant that was left on their doorstep. The truth surrounding the child’s abandonment begins to unfurl, as well as the shocking secrets that start to unravel with it.
Margaret Coel holds the title of a New York Times best-selling author and a fourth-generation Coloradan. She was born in Denver and currently resides in Boulder. Her work has received recognition, including local publications such as the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Five of her books have been recipients of the Colorado Book Award. Her degree in journalism from Marquette University provided the foundation for her nonfiction writing and her prior work as a historian provides her with the expertise to write on the Arapahoe Indian community.
Peg Brantley tackles human trafficking in her aptly named novel. Instead of placing the story in some faraway country, Brantley sets it in her home country. During the research stage of the book, Brantley was devastated to learn that trafficking is a large issue in the United States, despite what people may want to believe. Her book strives to inform and educate readers on this nightmarish world and what police forces are doing across states to combat it.
She is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, as well as the Sisters in Crime group. Brantley and her husband have made a home Southeast of Denver, where she happily welcomes wildlife visitors. Peg finds herself drawn to writing on relevant social issues while fleshing out characters that can drive the story forward and engage readers on an emotional level. The raw connection that is forged in this way is why she has built up a following of passionate suspense readers. Other books penned by Brantley include Red Tide, The Missings, and The Sacrifice.
David Boop is an award-winning essayist and screenwriter based out of Denver. Aside from his essays, he has published his debut novel titled, She Murdered Me With Science. The book is labeled as an alternate history thriller, resulting in a pulp fiction adventure. Readers drawn to suspense and science fiction plots will want to check out Boop’s work, as he continues to have a promising career as a novelist. His aptitude for writing spans across several genres, including short stories, films, and even a Victorian horror novel named The Soul Changers.
David has been a recipient of several awards, including one from the Colorado Press Association for his coverage of Columbine. Boop is a single father and when he’s not writing, he participates in hobbies such as history research, film noir, and anime.
Readers looking to get insight into the true essence of Denver should look no further than the work of Phil Goodstein, who’s as native as they come. He has spent his career as a writer crafting tributes to the Mile High City, with his distinctive style that many readers have come to adore. Goodstein has written upwards of 30 books on Denver’s interesting history and his tech-phobic nature means that there’s no author website that collects all of the titles into one space. Phil claims that it’s even difficult for him to pinpoint just how many books he’s written to date.
The Ghosts of Denver: Capitol Hill is one of Goldstein’s bestselling books and is illustrated with historic photographs to further drive home the information provided and the sometimes obsessive detail that Goodstein delves into. Much of the work is factual, though the author can’t help but get a few jabs in at the establishment. This often makes his work engaging to read and has turned him into a bit of a folk hero around town. He’s even been giving ghost tours around the city, including Denver’s “most haunted neighborhood,” AKA Capitol Hill, since the late 1980s.
Stephen White is best known for his Dr. Alan Gregory series. Privileged Information is the first in the series and was published in 1991. White went on to publish 19 more books in this series, which provide more than enough reading material even for the ravenous readers. The books follow Alan Gregory, a psychologist who becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation and must race to clear his good name.
As a clinical psychologist, Stephen White has a keen knack for writing suspenseful novels with a psychological thriller bent to them. White graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder and has remained in the state, building his clinical career and practice before embarking on his writing journey. Stephen White has MS and incorporates the disease into his work, which both educates and creates a community for readers who also struggle with multiple sclerosis.