Laura Pritchett is a conservationist whose work is rooted in the American West, particularly the mountains of Colorado. She is the the author of the novels Red Lightning, Stars Go Blue (finalist for the Reading the West and the Colorado Book Award), Sky Bridge (winner of the WILLA Fiction Award), and Hell's Bottom, Colorado (winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize and the PEN USA Award). She is also the author of Great Colorado Bear Stories (nonfiction) and editor of three anthologies: Pulse of the River, Home Land, and Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers.
Laura has also published over 100 essays and short stories in numerous magazines, including The Sun, Orion, High Country News, Salon, The Normal School, High Desert Journal, OnEarth, Natural Resources Journal, 5280 (Denver's Magazine), The Pinch, and others; and her work has been anthologized in the books Comeback Wolves, A Dozen on Denver, Telling it Real, How the West Was Warmed, The Mysterious Life of the Heart,Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming, West of 98, and others. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize on several occasions.
Laura is a faculty member at Pacific University’s low-residency MFA Program, Denver’s Lighthouse Writers, teaches around the country, and works as a writing coach. When not writing or teaching, she can generally be found outside in Colorado’s mountains. She holds a Ph.D. in English (Contemporary American Literature) from Purdue University.
You can reach Laura at L_Pritchett@msn.com.
Follow me on twitter @authorlaura
To read Laura’s recent piece in O: Oprah’s Magazine, which is part of a segment that won the ASME Award
Another recent interview?
To read one of Laura's short stories
(and author interview)
For more fiction: click here
For some nonfiction, try one of these:
A recent article: click here
Schedule of Events click here
To read Laura’s most recent article
on Colorado’s flooding
From the publisher:
Ten years ago, Tess Cross left her newborn daughter with her sister and hightailed it out of what she called NoWhere, Colorado. Now she returns to the eastern plains of Colorado, full of raw rage at herself and at the universe, yearning for the life she never led and the daughter she left behind. As a levantona who has been running drugs and illegal immigrants beyond the US-Mexican border, she's knowingly entered into a harsh and dangerous world. But suddenly her world has become darker than she can bear: The largest wildfire in Colorado history is blazing. Immigrants are dead. She's haunted by the memory of a Mexican woman she couldn't save and a lost Mexican girl she did. Traffickers--of both immigrants and drugs--are now hunting her down. But most of all, Tess is at the mercy of her own traumatized soul, and the weight of it is cracking her apart. In the act of coming home, Tess must now face her dying mother, her sister, her daughter, and most importantly, herself.
This book broaches timely topics essential in the West--immigration, rural poverty, wildfires--with suspense and gritty wisdom as well as Pritchett's trademark lyricism and grace. Like Libby, her sister and the central character of Pritchett's novel Sky Bridge, Tess has her own coming-of-age in a revelatory story of hard-earned transformation and redemption.
What others are saying--
“Pritchett's deep compassion for her characters, her searing honesty, and Tess's complex quest for redemption in the raw landscape of Nowhere, Colorado illuminate this fine and compelling novel. Don't miss this book.” --Karen E. Bender, author of Refund
“In Red Lightening, Laura Pritchett has given her readers a deeply beautiful and suspenseful new novel, one with the central questions: how much does a human life matter? And, how strong are the ties that bind us to family? This is a powerful book, one that I didn’t want to end.” --Christine Sneed, author of Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts
“Laura Pritchett is a writer whose prose is as passionate as it is intelligent. Hers is a rare talent that does not let her compassion for humanity get in the way of her attention to the paradoxes of being human, nor its obligations. Red Lightning is a star in the West: a smart, tender, crisp piece of work about the opportunities for redemption and blessings that exist in every hour.” --Rick Bass, author of All the Land to Hold Us
“Set against the harsh beauty of the high desert, Red Lightning is a vividly original exploration of the tangled web connecting mothers and daughters, siblings and strangers. When the dangerous secrets of border crossings threaten to ignite a family's hard-won sanctuary, each character struggles for a calibrated balance between freedom and love. A daring and dazzling book." --Elizabeth Rosner, author of Electric City
“Laura Pritchett's Red Lightning is a gut-wrenching tale of a woman's search for redemption, and her deeply moving journey toward making herself whole. Pritchett's prose is poetic and raw, vividly painting the landscape of a small Eastern Colorado town at the edge of fire and drought, and the interior landscape of a brokenwoman's last-ditch effort to save herself and those she loves. Tess's unique voice offers us hard-won bits of wisdom. A gorgeous and powerful story of coming home to face the truth.” --Laura Resau, author of The Queen of Water and Red Glass
June 5, 1 pm, City News: Bookstore & Coffee House, Cheyenne, WY
June 10, 7 pm, Tattered Cover, Colfax, Denver, CO
June 14, 3 pm, Old Town Library, Fort Collins, CO
June 16, 7:30pm, Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, CO
June 18, 7:30pm, Pegasus on Solano Berkeley, CA
June 20, 5 pm, Skylight Books Los Angeles, CA
June 26, 2 pm, BookPeople of Moscow, Idaho
June 27, 7 pm Auntie’s Books Spokane, WA
June 28, 3 pm, Elliott Bay Books Seattle, WA
June 29, 7:30 pm Powell’s Bookstore Hawthorne Portland, OR
July 1, 7 pm, Book Bar, Denver, CO
July 13, 7 pm, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
From the publisher:
Laura Pritchett is an award-winning author who has quickly become one of the West's defining literary voices. We first met hardscrabble ranchers Renny and Ben Cross in Laura's debut collection. In Stars Go Blue, they are estranged, elderly spouses living on opposite ends of their sprawling ranch, faced with the particular decline of a fading farm and Ben's struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Then they discover a new horrible truth: Ray, the abusive husband of their daughter who shot her dead in the family kitchen, is being released from prison early. This news opens old wounds in Ben, his wife, his surviving daughter, and four grandchildren. Branded with a need for justice, they must each confront this man, their own consciences, and their futures.
Stars Go Blue is a triumphant novel of the American family, buffered by the workings of a ranch and the music offered by the landscape and animal life upon it. With an unflinching look into the world of Alzheimer's, both from the point of view of the afflicted and the caregiver, the novel offers a story of remarkable bravery and enduring devotion, proving that the end of life does not mean the end of love.
Praise for Stars Go Blue (which was recently shortlisted for the Reading the West Award and the Colorado Book Award):
Booklist, starred review:
Readers will remember Renny and Ben Cross from Pritchett's stellar first collection of linked stories, Hell's Bottom, Colorado (2001). Life in the meantime has not been kind to the salt-of-the-earth, hard-working couple. Their daughter, Rachel, was murdered before their very eyes a few years back by her meth-head husband, Ray. Now Ben has rapidly progressing dementia, and Renny is left to tend to the ranch and her husband single-handedly. When the Crosses learn that Ray has been released from prison innearby Greeley, Ben leaves in the midst of a snowstorm to confront the man who ruined his family, armed with enough weapons to ensure his misery will end. When Renny discovers Ben is gone, she takes off inwhat is now a full-blown blizzard, uncertain that she will find Ben in time. There is more than just the bleak and unforgiving setting of the Rocky Mountain foothills to recommend Pritchett to fans of Kent Haruf's similarly placed novels. Strength of character and simplicity of language comparably complement a rich underpinning of savagery and sadness as Pritchett sensitively navigates the end of a life and sublimely realizes its enduring legacy.
“Laura Pritchett’s is a fine new voice, fully her own, with wise sensibilities. The deep territory mapped here in the triangular boundary between regret and endurance and hope is well illuminated and finely wrought.” —Rick Bass, author of The Stars, the Sky, the Wilderness
“Stars Go Blue manages to be both warm-hearted and violent at once -- a complex deeply-imagined family tale which finds unexpected gifts at its conclusion. Laura Pritchett is a writer who knows country life on the Rocky Mountain front range thoroughly and she conveys this physical world expertly, beautifully out of her long experience. Within this specific place her clear depiction of character and suspenseful delivery of story compel us to the last exact word.” —Kent Haruf, author of Plainsong and Eventide
“Laura Pritchett’s new book is a novel about family and the Western spirit to which they are born; her characters bound off the page as if released from the pull of gravity. In prose as bright as mountain air we meet a retired rancher whose memory is failing and his estranged, hard-bitten wife, as each attempts to prepare for the release from prison of the stranger who murdered their daughter. Their narratives are as gripping as they are intelligent, as wise as they are funny, as unsentimental as they are tender. What results is proof positive that Pritchett is one of Colorado’s best-kept literary secrets, a superb writer who not only knows her people and the world they come from, but respects and loves them.” —Laura Hendrie, author of Stygo
"Laura Pritchett is to be congratulated for the brilliant telling of a story this true and this tough. Stars Go Blue is an unswerving exploration into the trials of aging and its related losses, while giving testimony to the hardiness of the human spirit and the ways in which we transcend our own frailty in the name of love." —Claire Davis, author of Winter Range
“Laura Pritchett performs the simple but miraculous prestidigitation of human empathy. Stars Go Blue is a nerve-jangling, heart-wrenching treat—a tale you won’t easily forget about a man struggling to remember.” —Steve Amick, author of The Lake, the River & the Other Lake and Nothing But a Smile
Award-winning author Pritchett introduced Renny and Ben Cross in Hell's Bottom, Colorado, a novel that's unsparing in its stark detail of ranch life in eastern Colorado. In this emotionally charged new book, Renny and Ben are still devoted but have been driven apart by the murder of their daughter Rachel, from which neither has recovered. Rachel's abusive husband, Ray, spent time in prison for the crime, but now he's out and headed back to his hometown nearby. Facing a dangerous man like Ray is only one of Renny's worries. She has to figure out how best to dispose of their failing ranch while watching Ben struggle with Alzheimer's. In his muddled state, Ben has secretly devised a bizarre plan to assure justice for Rachel and a secure future for their surviving daughter and grandchildren, but Renny suspects his scheme when she finds the notes he's written to himself on little pieces of paper. Determined to rescue him, Renny foolishly heads out into a frightening blizzard. In the final chapter, granddaughter Jess speaks from the heart about Ben's dignity, his respect for the land, and his solid devotion to his family. - VERDICT Pritchett delivers a brilliant novel, filled with heartache and humor, that will strike a chord with many readers. A heart-wrenching exploration of a family in crisis. --Starred Review from Library Journal
— “A valuable and wide-ranging work of scholarship, love, and respect, Pritchett’s
book is a great source for the history of bears in Colorado—black and grizzly.” — Rick Bass, author, Why I Came West and The Lost Grizzlies: A Search for Survivors in the Wilderness of Colorado
Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers For Going Green, Pritchett has gathered over twenty writers to tell their personal stories of Dumpster diving, eating road kill, salvaging plastic from the beach, and forgoing another trip to the mall for the thrill of bargain hunting at yard sales and flea markets. They look not just at the many ways people glean but also at the larger, thornier issues dealing with what re-using—or not—says about our culture and priorities.
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