Meet These 11 Notable Montana Authors

Hey there, fellow book lover! Have you ever found yourself captivated by the awe-inspiring beauty of Yellowstone National Park craving a deeper understanding of American life?

Well, I’ve got something exciting for you: a treasure trove of literary wonders brought to you by talented Montana authors.

In this article, I’m going to introduce you to Montana authors who have spent years crafting a mesmerizing collection of stories that will transport you to another world.

From prolific adventure writers to well-received science fiction authors, this group of professional writers has left an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

These writers capture Montana’s spirit through diverse genres like travel narratives, indigenous culture exploration, and captivating tales, transcending mere genre exploration.

So, if you’re ready to delve into the wildlife of Montana through the written word, join me as we embark on a literary adventure with these eleven awe-inspiring Montana authors.

Get ready to experience Montana like never before—through the eyes and imagination of these remarkable wordsmiths. Buckle up, my friend. This is going to be one exhilarating ride!

Montana Professional Writers and Their Literary World

A row of books stacked side by side in Montana.

Embark on a literary odyssey through Montana’s mesmerizing tales as we introduce you to 11 gifted writers.

With their artful storytelling, they have honed their craft over the years, weaving narratives that effortlessly transport readers to realms brimming with adventure and intrigue.

Spanning genres from science fiction to nonfiction, travel writing to inspirational literature, these authors breathe life into the hidden stories of Montana.

They delve into the vibrant tapestry of indigenous culture and shed light on the wonders of the untamed wilderness, painting vivid landscapes that captivate the imagination.

Prepare to be enthralled as you journey through the pages of their remarkable works, where Montana’s essence unfolds in all its mesmerizing glory.

1. Ivan Doig

A black and white photo of a group of authors in Montana.

Ivan Doig, a third-generation Montanan, was born in White Sulphur Springs, Montana on June 27, 1939.

Doig led a diverse professional life, working as a ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor. But it was growing up along the Rocky Mountain front that provided the backdrop for much of his writing.

Doig resided in Seattle with his wife Carol Muller, a literature of the American West professor who he met at the Medill School of Journalism.

They married on April 17, 1965, and did not have any children.

Doig held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University, later earning a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington in 1969.

Throughout his career, he received 3 honorary doctorates.

As an American author, Doig’s writing topics often delve into adventure, the intricacies of rural life, and the natural beauty of Montana’s wilderness.

Famous Works by Ivan Doig:

  • English Creek (1984)
  • Dancing at the Rascal Fair (1987)
  • Ride with Me, Mariah Montana (1990)
  • The Bartender’s Tale (2012)
  • Last Bus to Wisdom (2015)
  • This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind (1978)
  • Heart Earth: A Memoir (1993)
  • Winter Brothers: A Season at the Edge of America (1980)

2. James Welch

James Welch, born on November 18, 1940, in Browning, Montana, had a diverse and captivating background.

Welch’s father hailed from the Blackfeet tribe, while his mother belonged to the Gros Ventre (A’aninin) tribe. Growing up on an Indian reservation, he confronted the challenges faced by people largely excluded from the American dream.

Determined to become a writer, he sought to amplify their voices and shed light on their struggles.

While acclaimed for his novels, Welch also dazzled with his poetry, fiction, essays, and writings about food, earning him the title of “founding author of the Native American Renaissance”.

Prior to delving into English Literature at the University of Montana, Welch explored different vocations – firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service, laborer, and Upward Bound counselor.

Yet, Welch’s unwavering passion remained storytelling through the written word.

Beyond his literary conquests, Welch served as the Vice Chairman of the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole for a decade.

His contributions to literature and society have been recognized with honorary doctorates from the University of Montana, Montana State University, and Rocky Mountain College in Billings.

As an Indigenous author and prolific writer, Welch has left an indelible mark on American literature.

He wrote Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians (1994), providing profound insights into Native American history.

James Welch’s mastery as an American author is a testament to his ability to captivate and enlighten readers with his poetic prose and engaging storytelling.

Famous Works by James Welch:

  • Winter in the Blood (1974)
  • Fools Crow (1986)
  • The Death of Jim Loney (1979)
  • The Heartsong of Charging Elk (2000)
  • Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians (1994)

3. William Kittredge

William Kittredge, born on August 14, 1932, in Portland, Oregon, left an indelible mark on the literary world until his passing on December 4, 2020, in Missoula.

He is a renowned American author known for his poetry, fiction, and essays, and was a master of capturing the essence of the natural world in his writings.

Hailing from the great state of Oregon, USA, Kittredge spent the majority of his life in the picturesque town of Missoula, Montana.

Kittredge’s early experiences shaped his captivating fiction and nonfiction, drawing inspiration from his childhood and young adulthood.

After obtaining a degree in general agriculture from Oregon State University in 1953, Kittredge had the privilege of being a student of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Bernard Malamud.

Throughout his life, Kittredge chronicled his adventures and insights, writing widely on natural history, the environment, and animal welfare issues.

With degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and Princeton universities, Kittredge established himself as a respected nonfiction writer, captivating readers with his deep understanding of the natural world.

In his over three decades residing in Missoula, Montana, Kittredge embraced a life of writing, public readings, and exploration.

With his powerful prose and unique perspective, William Kittredge’s adult books continue to inspire readers to appreciate the wonders of the world around us.

Famous Works by William Kittredge:

  • Owning It All (1987)
  • Hole in the Sky: A Memoir (1992)
  • The Nature of Generosity (2000)
  • The Best American Essays (2005)
  • The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays (2017)

4. Judy Blunt

As a Montana writer, Judy Blunt brings a unique perspective to her exceptional storytelling skills.

Spending over 30 years on wheat and cattle ranches in northeastern Montana, Blunt gained firsthand experience of the rugged and demanding ranch life that shapes her narratives.

Seeking liberation, she made the decision to attend the University of Montana, where her talent for storytelling blossomed.

Blunt’s book of poems, Not Quite Stone, won the prestigious Merriam-Frontier Award in 1991, capturing Montana’s landscape and people in poignant verse.

Her memoir, Breaking Clean, showcases her upbringing on a Montana ranch, where at 15, she entered into an arranged marriage with an older cowboy named John.

Breaking Clean delves into the challenges Blunt faced as she endured 12 years of marriage, raising children, and living within the confines of her rural Montana heritage. But it also explores her journey to self-discovery and liberation.

Breaking free from the traditions of her upbringing, Blunt courageously divorces her husband and embarks on a new life in Missoula, where she pursues education and becomes a writer.

Through her storytelling, Judy Blunt continues to leave a lasting impact on Montana literature, sharing the untold stories of those who brave the trials of rural life and find their own voice amidst the vastness of the Big Sky Country.

Famous Works by Judy Blunt:

  • Not Quite Stone (1991)
  • Breaking Clean (2002)
  • Traditions (2010) – Co-authored with Carol S. Leonard and Sharyn J. McCrumb
  • Cowboy Stories (2011)
  • The Land (2015)
  • Winter Wheat (2019)

5. Pete Fromm

A smiling man and woman in Montana gazing down.

Pete Fromm is a celebrated author hailing from the rugged landscapes of Montana.

Born on September 29, 1958, this seasoned wordsmith and adventure writer has been painting literary masterpieces for well over 25 years.

From Montana to Michigan to the battlefields of Vietnam where he served as a soldier during the war, Fromm’s experiences have lent a rich tapestry to his storytelling.

He graces the stages of writer’s conferences across the United States and Europe, captivating audiences with his raw talent and captivating narratives.

His name shines brightly in the literary sky, having garnered recognition with several prestigious accolades.

Fromm has collected the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Literary Award five times, an extraordinary feat that speaks volumes about his storytelling prowess.

This Montana wordsmith’s brilliance extends beyond novels and includes mesmerizing memoirs. Indian Creek Chronicles have left an indelible mark on readers’ hearts.

Fromm’s novel, The Names of the Stars claimed the illustrious Evans Handcart Award for its excellence in biography as well as the esteemed Montana Book Award.

Pete Fromm’s enchanting novel, As Cool As I Am, transcended the pages and made its way onto the big screen with a captivating film adaptation.

Starring the incredibly talented Claire Danes, James Marsden, and Sarah Bolger, the movie brought Fromm’s unforgettable story to life.

The magic of Pete Fromm is not limited to novels and films alone. Delve into his collection of short stories, where you’ll find a treasure trove of captivating tales.

With over 200 stories published in various magazines, he has mastered the art of weaving wonder into concise narratives.

Step into the realm of Pete Fromm, a master storyteller, and allow yourself to be whisked away on a journey of wonder, inspiration, and the joy of a well-told tale.

Famous Works by Pete Fromm:

  • A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How To Do (2019)
  • If Not For This (2014)
  • As Cool As I Am (2003)
  • How All This Started (2000)
  • Monkey Tag (1994)

6. Richard Hugo

Richard Hugo is an American novelist, literary critic, and essayist, Hugo’s incomparable talent has left an indelible mark on the literary world.

Hailing from the humble town of White Center, Washington, Hugo’s works spanned various genres, including poetry, fiction, and even writing about food.

His ability to capture the essence of human emotion and experience in his writings is genuinely awe-inspiring.

Born on December 21, 1923, Richard Franklin Hogan was raised by his grandparents, Fred and Ora Monk, after his mother entrusted him to their care.

In 1942, Hugo decided to embrace his mother’s second husband’s last name, Herbert Hugo, and became Richard Hugo.

His life took an extraordinary turn when he volunteered for the Army Air Corps in 1943, serving as a bombardier in the Mediterranean Theatre.

Hugo’s bravery and dedication earned him the rank of First Lieutenant and prestigious honors like the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Completing 35 missions, he displayed the courage and resilience that would later permeate his literary works. Books, baseball, and fishing were 3 passions that accompanied Richard Hugo throughout his journey.

After being discharged from the military in 1948, he attended the University of Washington on the G.I. Bill and a baseball scholarship.

While pursuing an English major, he had the opportunity to participate in Theodore Roethke’s workshops, adding depth and insight to his literary prowess.

With a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in hand, Hugo married Barbara Williams and went on to earn his Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in 1952.

His dedication to the craft and unwavering commitment to his own literary voice laid the foundation for his enduring legacy. Richard Hugo’s impact extends beyond his written works.

The Richard Hugo House in Seattle serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring poets in the region, offering workshops and writing education to foster a vibrant learning community.

Additionally, his papers are housed at the University of Washington, ensuring that his profound influence on the literary landscape is preserved for generations to come.

Solace is found in his final resting place. Beneath the roots of an ancient tree in Missoula, visitors to his grave are met with words from his poem “Glen Uig” etched on the headstone.

These words serve as a reminder of the power of our own voices and the resilience to endure even the most challenging circumstances.

Richard Hugo’s body of work continues to inspire and captivate readers. With each page, he invites us to explore the depths of our own humanity and embrace the power of storytelling.

In a world that can sometimes feel chaotic and uncertain, Hugo’s books serve as beacons of hope, offering solace to all who dare to embark on the literary adventure he has left behind.

Famous Works by Richard Hugo:

  • The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing (1978)
  • Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo (1981)
  • The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir (Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary Series: Poetry) (1973)
  • Selected Poems (1979)
  • Death and the Good Life (1981)

7. Mary Clearman Blew

As a Montana author, Mary Clearman Blew has left an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

Growing up in Montana’s eastern center, far from the bustle of town, Blew’s connection to the land and its people runs deep.

With almost 50 years of teaching and working in Montana’s schools and colleges under her belt, Blew’s persistence and competence have been key to her survival and success.

In her teachings, Blew urges her students to delve into the history and significance of places that hold personal meaning to them.

Blew believes that by incorporating personal and trivial details, writers can create a rich tapestry of storytelling that resonates with readers.

Blew’s impressive body of work includes criticism, novels, memoirs, and essay collections.

Her writing explores family, wonderful stories, and the delicate balance between personal narratives and a writer’s privilege to tell them.

Blew’s works showcase her talent for delving into the human experience with depth and nuance. Blew’s contributions to the literary world have not gone unnoticed.

Her work has garnered praise and recognition, solidifying her position as a prominent Montana author.

With her intimate connection to the state and her vast body of notable works, Mary Clearman Blew continues to inspire and captivate readers with her evocative storytelling.

Famous Works by Mary Clearman Blew:

  • Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey (1982)
  • Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present (2007)
  • Chip of the Flying U (1906)
  • The Curlew’s Cry (1994)

8. Thomas McGuane

Thomas Francis McGuane III, born on December 11, 1939, in Wyandotte, Michigan, is an author hailing from the rugged landscapes of Livingston Montana.

As a novelist, literary critic, and essayist, McGuane has carved out a unique niche for himself in the world of literature.

Known for his extensive body of work, McGuane has penned 10 novels, short fiction pieces, screenplays, and 3 essay collections that revolve around adventures in the great outdoors.

His writing reflects an intimate connection with nature and a keen interest in exploring the natural history, environment, and animal welfare issues.

In his personal life, McGuane has had interesting romantic escapades.

He has been married to Laurie Buffett since 1977, he was previously married to Margot Kidder from 1975 to 1977 and Portia Rebecca Crockett from 1962 to 1975.

He is also a loving father to three children: Maggie McGuane, Thomas Francis McGuane IV, and Anne McGuane.

McGuane’s writing captures the rugged essence of Montana and showcases his ability to craft compelling narratives that resonate with readers from all walks of life.

As an outdoor writer, he invites readers to embark on literary adventures that transport them to the untamed beauty of Montana’s landscapes.

Famous Works by Thomas McGuane:

  • The Sporting Club (1969)
  • Ninety-Two in the Shade (1973)
  • Panama (1978)
  • Nobody’s Angel (1981)
  • The Cadence of Grass (2002)
  • Gallatin Canyon (2006)
  • Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories (2018)

9. Maile Meloy

Maile Meloy was born on January 1, 1972, and raised in Helena, Montana, Meloy is an intriguing writer with an impressive literary background.

After completing her bachelor’s degree at Harvard College in 1994, Meloy furthered her education by pursuing an MFA at the University of California, Irvine.

With her strong connection to Montana and a deep understanding of its unique charm, she has beautifully crafted stories that resonate with readers worldwide.

Her literary contributions have earned her recognition and accolades within the literary community.

Meloy’s unique storytelling abilities have garnered her awards and established her as a prominent Montana author.

With her talent for creating immersive narratives that evoke a strong sense of place, Meloy continues to enchant readers with her compelling and thought-provoking works.

In the realm of Montana authors, Maile Meloy stands proudly as a talented literary figure. Her captivating stories and notable achievements make her a celebrated name in the world of literature.

Famous Works by Maile Meloy:

  • Do Not Become Alarmed (2017)
  • The Apothecary (The Apothecary, #1) – Written by Maile Meloy, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr (2011)
  • Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (2009)
  • The Apprentices (The Apothecary, #2) – Written by Maile Meloy, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr (2013)
  • Liars and Saints (2003)

10. David Quammen

A man standing at a podium in Montana, delivering a presentation to his audience with a screen behind him.

David Quammen, an award-winning science, nature, and travel writer, has made a significant impact on the literary landscape.

A true Renaissance man, he was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 24, 1948, and pursued his education at prestigious institutions such as Yale University and the University of Oxford.

It was in 1973 that Quammen embarked on what would become a life-changing journey to Montana, which he now calls home.

Armed with nothing but a fly rod and a Volkswagen bus, he immersed himself in the diverse and breathtaking landscapes of the state.

With an impressive repertoire of 15 books under his belt, Quammen’s writing has captivated readers around the world.

His works have been featured in renowned publications like Outside Magazine, National Geographic, Harper’s, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Yorker.

His ability to seamlessly blend scientific knowledge with compelling storytelling is a testament to his expertise as an award-winning science, nature, and travel writer.

Quammen’s talent has also transcended the pages of his books. His writing has been adapted into the film Walking Out, further solidifying his impact and recognition in the literary and cinematic realms.

While he has dabbled in various genres, Quammen’s writing primarily falls within the realm of non-fiction, fascinating readers with his explorations of the natural world.

Throughout his career, Quammen has been recognized and celebrated for his contributions to the literary community.

His dedication to his craft has garnered him accolades such as the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences.

With his insatiable curiosity and indisputable talent, David Quammen continues to inspire and educate readers as an award-winning science, nature, and travel writer.

Famous Works by David Quammen:

  • Spillover (2012)
  • The Song of the Dodo (1996)
  • The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life (2018)
  • Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus (2022)
  • The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (2006)

11. Leslie Budewitz

Leslie Budewitz is an American author hailing from the beautiful state of Montana.

Born on March 5, 1959, in Billings, she has built a remarkable reputation for her captivating storytelling and literary prowess.

With her residence in Montana, Leslie finds inspiration in her surroundings, including her love for cooking.

It’s this unique blend of food, great mysteries, and the scenic Northwest that permeates her writing, making it both thrilling and deliciously enticing.

As a master of the cozy mystery genre, Leslie Budewitz is the creative force behind two acclaimed series.

The Spice Shop Mysteries are set in Seattle’s vibrant Pike Place Market, while the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries take place in stunning Montana.

Under the pen name Alicia Beckman, Budewitz also crafts suspenseful novels that keep readers on the edge of their seats.

With an impressive list of accolades, Leslie Budewitz has triumphed in the writing world.

She is honored as a 3-time winner of the prestigious Agatha Awards, including Best First Novel in 2013 for Death Al Dente.

In addition to her individual accomplishments, Leslie has served as the esteemed president of Sisters in Crime and as a former board member of Mystery Writers of America, solidifying her influence within the industry.

Leslie Budewitz’s unique writing style, notable accomplishments, and captivating narratives have secured her a treasured place among the esteemed American authors of our time.

Famous Works by Leslie Budewitz:

  • Assault and Pepper (2015)
  • Killing Thyme (2016)
  • Guilty as Cinnamon (2015)
  • Death Al Dente (2013)
  • Chai Another Day (2019)

Montana Authors Final Thoughts

A woman in Montana jotting notes in a notebook using a pen.

In the vast and awe-inspiring landscapes of Montana, a tapestry of literary talent unfolds.

The stories penned by these remarkable authors paint vivid pictures of adventure, resilience, and the human spirit’s indomitable nature.

Each author’s unique voice and perspective breathe life into their stories. Ivan Doig captures rural life and the allure of Montana’s wilderness.

James Welch amplifies the voices of indigenous people, shedding light on their struggles. William Kittredge immerses readers in the wonders of Montana’s landscapes.

Judy Blunt fearlessly shares untold stories, and challenging traditions. Pete Fromm’s mastery whisks us away on journeys of wonder. Richard Hugo’s poetic prose delves into human emotion.

Mary Clearman Blew weaves a rich tapestry of storytelling. Thomas McGuane invites readers to embrace Montana’s untamed beauty.

Maile Meloy’s narratives capture the essence of landscapes and human experience. David Quammen bridges science and storytelling. Leslie Budewitz’s cozy mysteries delight with thrilling tales.

Through their words, we are transported to the untamed wilderness, the hidden corners of history, and the hearts and minds of those who call Montana home.

On this literary journey through Montana, we are reminded of the power of storytelling to transport, inspire, and connect us.

These authors have left an indelible mark on the literary world, shining a spotlight on the hidden stories of Montana and capturing the essence of its people, landscapes, and history.

So, I recommend readers to check out Montana’s best books. The authors will surely captivate and invite readers to embark on their own adventures within the pages of their books.

So, whether you find yourself wandering the streets of Helena or gazing at the majestic peaks of Glacier National Park, take a moment to delve into the literary world of Montana.

Let these authors be your guides, transporting you to the heart of this breathtaking state and leaving you with a deeper understanding of its rich tapestry of stories.

As you turn the pages, may their words ignite your imagination and kindle a love for the written word, reminding us all of the power of literature to connect us to the world around us.

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Written by:

Elizabeth Hawley
Hey, fellow travelers! I'm Elizabeth Hawley, stepping into the world in the hues of fall. For me, Montana is more than just a state; it's a muse. The golden aspen trees and russet landscapes in the fall have always fueled my creativity. Co-founding was a no-brainer, blending my love for art, photography, and Montana's ever-changing palette.

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