Midland author Patrick Dearen to be inducted into Texas Literary Hall of Fame

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Midland author Patrick Dearen will be inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

The Texas Literary Hall of Fame was established to celebrate and encourage the state’s rich literary heritage by honoring its principal authors, whose original writing reflects enduring cultural relevance and artistic creativity.

At his induction, Dearen will be one of 66 Texas authors — past and present — admitted. Members include Elmer Kelton, Larry McMurtry, Laura Bush, Red Steagall, HW Brands, Dan Jenkins, J. Frank Dobie, Katherine Anne Porter, John Graves, Horton Foote and Walter Prescott Webb.

“I couldn’t have been more humbled or stunned,” Dearen said in an email to The Reporter-Telegram of his reaction to the Hall of Fame announcement. “During my 57 years of writing, I had dreamed of certain accomplishments, including winning the Spur Award, but never once had it crossed my mind that one day I might be inducted into Texas Literary. Hall of Fame. I still can’t get used to the idea.”

Dearen will be one of seven honorees this year, joining ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Jerry Craven, Tim Madigan, Jodi Thomas, Martha Wells and Richard Bruce Winders.

“The Texas Literary Hall of Fame showcases the nation’s top literary writers. This group of inductees follows a long list of others who demonstrate how Texas has shaped the cultural landscape of their writing,” said Sonja Watson, Ph.D. ., dean of the AddRan College of Liberal Arts at Texas Christian University, which houses the gambling hall.

Reporter-Telegram Q&A with Dearen

Journalist-Telegram: What was your reaction when you heard about your honor in the Hall of Fame?

cheren: I couldn’t have been more humbled or stunned. In my 57 years of writing, I had dreamed of certain accomplishments, including winning the Spur Award, but never had it occurred to me that one day I might be inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Famous. I still can’t make up my mind.

Journalist-Telegram: Founded in 2004, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame honors “authors whose body of work, fiction or nonfiction, contributes significantly to the literary heritage of Texas.” What does it mean to join authors like Elmer Kelton and Larry McMurtry?

cheren: It is the honor of a lifetime. But as I study the 59 previously inducted authors and see the name of Elmer Kelton – one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known – I realize the responsibility that comes with it. Whatever I may or may not achieve as a writer, the important thing is to leave a legacy of integrity, honor and faith.

Journalist-Telegram: Why did you choose writing as a profession?

Dearen: My mother laid the groundwork when she introduced me to reading at an early age. When I was 14-year-old English teacher Bob Bass gave me what everyone needs – a dream – when he suggested I consider writing as a career. I went home that same afternoon and started my first novel.

Journalist-Telegram: Were you destined to write on American West/Southwest themes? Have you ever thought about writing on a different topic?

cheren: With a background in reading at Burroughs and Brackett, my first love was science fiction. Indeed, just this month, my space adventure Stellar Flight to Destiny became available again for the first time in 10 years. However, my western roots are deep; my grandfather was a cowboy and i have always loved west texas history. Nothing intrigues me more than the unusual places in our region, as well as the men and women who forged their lives there. West Texas has been largely overlooked in Texas literature, and I’ve had the honor of sharing some of its mystique through both my fiction and nonfiction.

Journalist-Telegram: You have become an authority on the region, especially on the Pecos River. You were even interviewed this year by the New York Times and the Santa Fe New Mexican about a wildfire burning hundreds of thousands of acres in New Mexico. That seems like high praise. How has the work you put into research improved your writing?

cheren: My non-fiction and my fiction go hand in hand. My non-fiction research gives me the context to write my novels, and in researching my novels, I often find ideas to develop into non-fiction works. Twelve of my books deal with the Pecos River, which I have studied for 40 years. “Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos River” is the first environmental history book of the river from its sources to the Rio Grande. It was painful to see much of the upper forest ablaze earlier this year, but my research allowed me to provide historical context for The New York Times and The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Journalist-Telegram: At 71, what is next for you professionally?

Dear : I will never retire, because I have to write to feel good about myself. Hot on the heels of my 2022 novel, “The End of Nowhere”, my next novel, “Grizzly Moon”, will be released in hardcover by Five Star in February 2023. And every day I write about another novel set in West Texas History.

Patrick Dearen in a nutshell

Hometown

I was lucky to grow up in Sterling City, a small town where everyone was like family.

Education

I graduated from the University of Texas, where I studied creative writing and journalism.

Number of books written

26 books published, including 16 novels and 10 non-fiction books.

Your favorite authors

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, James Oliver Curwood.

If I start with one of your books, which should I choose?

The great drift, for which I was blessed with five awards, including the Spur Award of Western Writers of America. It’s the story of two cowherds – one black, one white – who face a brutal blizzard and their own racist backgrounds to bring drifting cattle back to their home range.

Favorite place to visit in West Texas or New Mexico

The headwaters of the Pecos River in northern New Mexico.

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