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WWA announces 2017 Spur Award winners

TUCSON, Arizona – Paul Andrew Hutton’s critically acclaimed The Apache Wars won the 2017 Spur Award for Best Western Historical Nonfiction book, and Taylor Sheridan’s Oscar-nominated screenplay for Hell or High Water won for Best Western Drama Script, Western Writers of America announced.

Winners and finalists were announced Saturday at the Tucson Festival of Books and will be honored June 21-24 in Kansas City, Missouri, at WWA’s convention, during which Pulitzer Prize finalist Louise Erdrich will also be presented the Owen Wister Award for lifetime contributions in Western literature.

Johnny D. Boggs tied the late Elmer Kelton with a record seventh Spur, this one for Return to Red River in the Mass-Market Paperback category. Published by Kensington’s Pinnacle imprint, the novel is a sequel to Borden Chase’s novel that was turned into the classic Western film “Red River” in 1948.

Since 1953, Western Writers of America has promoted and honored the best in Western literature with the annual Spur Awards, selected by panels of judges. Awards, for material published last year, are given for works whose inspiration, image and literary excellence best represent the reality and spirit of the American West.

The Apache Wars, subtitled The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History, was published by Crown and is the sixth Spur won for the University of New Mexico history professor who frequently appears on TV documentaries.

Dusty Richards earned his third Spur, for The Mustanger and the Lady in the Traditional Western Novel. Richards’s novel is already in film production. A finalist in that category, News of the World by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow), is a National Book Award finalist.

New York Times best-selling mystery writer C.J. Box picked up his first Spur. Previously honored with the Edgar Alan Poe Award from Mystery Writers of America in 2009, the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2016, and countless other awards, Box won in the Contemporary Western Novel for Off the Grid, one of his popular novels about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. Box’s first novel in that series, Open Season, was a Spur finalist in 2002.

The Best Western Biography Spur went to Joe Jackson for Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the story of the Lakota holy man who became known to millions of readers around the world with the publication of John G. Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks in 1932.

Michael Duchemin won in the Contemporary Nonfiction Book category for New Deal Cowboy: Gene Autry and Public Diplomacy (University of Oklahoma Press), which examines how Hollywood’s singing cowboy used public platforms to drum up support for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

For best first books, Fernanda Santos won for nonfiction with The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting (Flatiron Books) and James T. Hughes won for novel with Jasper Spring (Dog Ear Publishing).

The complete list of winners and finalists:
Historical Nonfiction
Winner:
 The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History by Paul Andrew Hutton (Crown)
Finalists: American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains by Dan Flores (University Press of Kansas); The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West by Peter Cozzens (Alfred A. Knopf)

Biography
Winner:
 Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Finalists: Texas Ranger: The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, the Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde by John Boessenecker (Thomas Dunne Books); Nobody Rich or Famous: A Family Memoir by Richard Shelton (University of Arizona Press)

Contemporary Nonfiction
Winner:
 New Deal Cowboy: Gene Autry and Public Diplomacy by Michael Duchemin (University of Oklahoma Press)
Finalists: The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting by Fernanda Santos (Flatiron Books); Stories From Afield: Adventures with Wild Things in Wild Places by Bruce L. Smith (University of Nebraska Press)

Traditional Novel
Winner: 
The Mustanger and the Lady by Dusty Richards (Galway Press)
Finalists: The Contractor by James C. Work (Five Star Publishing); News of the World by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow)

Contemporary Novel
Winner:
 Off the Grid: A Joe Pickett Novel by C.J. Box (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Finalists: Jasper Spring by James T. Hughes (Dog Ear Publishing); Hidden Star by Corinne Joy Brown (FriesenPress)

Mass-Market Paperback Novel
Winner:
 Return to Red River by Johnny D. Boggs (Pinnacle)
Finalists: Widowmaker Jones by Brett Cogburn (Pinnacle); Frontier: Powder River by S.K. Salzer (Pinnacle)

Juvenile Nonfiction
Winner:
 The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)
Finalists: Entertaining Women: Actresses, Dancers, and Singers in the Old West by Chris Enss (TwoDot); Sissy Bear at the Fort by Holly Arnold Kinney (Fur Trade Press)

Juvenile Fiction
Winner:
 Trouble Returns: A Ruby & Maude Adventure by Nancy Oswald (Filter Press)
Finalists: The Green Colt: The Adventures of Wilder Good by S.J. Dahlstrom (Paul Dry Books); Saddle Up! by Donna Alice Patton and Emily Chase Smith (Chase Smith Press/Redwood Digital Publishing)

Storyteller (Illustrated Children’s Book)
Winner:
 Seasons of the Bear: A Yosemite Story by author Ginger Wadsworth and illustrator Daniel San Souci (Yosemite Conservancy)
Finalists: Voices of the Western Frontier by author Sherry Garland and illustrator Julie Dupré Buckner (Pelican); Big Buckaroo Goes to the Special Olympics by author Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons and illustrator Jason Hutton (Tate Publishing)

Short Nonfiction
Winner: “‘Master of Ceremonies’: The World of Peter Biggs in Civil War-Era Los Angeles” by Kendra Field and Daniel Lynch (Western Historical Quarterly)
Finalists: “Cowboys & Millionaires: How Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders Bonded as Brothers Before Leaving to Fight in the Spanish-American War” by Mark Lee Gardner (True West Magazine); “Touching History: A Grandson’s Memories of Felix Marion Jones and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows” by Will Bagley (Utah Historical Quarterly)

Short Fiction
Winner:
 “Odell’s Bones” by Troy D. Smith (Cane Hollow Press)
Finalists: “Comanche Camp at Dawn” by Johnny D. Boggs (Giacobbe Fritz Fine Art/Nocona Burgess); “Umpire Colt” by Johnny D. Boggs (High Hill Press)

Poetry
Winner:
 “Ain’t A Hermit” by Floyd Beard (self-published, produced by Butch Hause)
Finalists: “Ballad of a Basque Sheepherder: Shaniko, Oregon” by Matt Schumacher (Redbat Books); “Diamonds” by Ann Sochat (TwoDot)

Song
Winner:
 “Halfway Down The Devil’s Road” by Jim Jones and Allan Chapman (East Mountain Music)
Finalists: “Tularosa Rose” by Doug Figgs and Les Buffham (Slash DC Music); “The Cattleman” by Jeff Posey (Buckskin Friend Music)

Drama Screenplay
Winner:
 Hell Or High Water by Taylor Sheridan (Film 44/OddLot Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/CBS Films)
Finalist: Desierto by Jonas Cuaron and Mateo Garcia (Esperanto Kino/ Itaca Films/CG Cinéma/STX Entertainment)

Documentary Script
Winner:
 The Drift: An American Cattle Drive by Geoff O’Gara (The Content Lab)

First Nonfiction Book
Winner:
 The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting by Fernanda Santos (Flatiron Books)

First Novel
Winner:
 Jasper Spring by James T. Hughes (Dog Ear Publishing)

No awards were given in the Historical Novel category.