Midland author Patrick Dearen to go 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 foremost authors, whose original writing reflects enduring cultural relevance and artistic creativity.

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

“I could not have been more humbled or stunned,” Dearen stated in an email to the Reporter-Telegram about his reaction to the hall of fame announcement. “Over the course of my 57-year writing journey, I had dreamed of certain accomplishments, including winning the Spur Award, but never once had it crossed my mind that someday I might be inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. I still can’t wrap my mind around it.”

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 top literary writers across the nation. This group of inductees follows a long list of others who demonstrate how Texas has shaped the cultural landscape of their writings,” said Sonja Watson, Ph.D., Dean of the AddRan College of Liberal Arts at Texas Christian University, which is home to the hall of game.

Reporter-Telegram question-and-answer with Dearen

Reporter-Telegram: What was your reaction to hearing of your hall of fame honor?

Dearen: I could not have been more humbled or stunned.  Over the course of my 57-year writing journey, I had dreamed of certain accomplishments, including winning the Spur Award, but never once had it crossed my mind that someday I might be inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.  I still can’t wrap my mind around it.

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

Dearen: It’s the honor of a lifetime. But as I study the 59 authors previously inducted and see the name Elmer Kelton — one of the finest gentlemen I’ve 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.

Reporter-Telegram: Why did you choose writing as a career?

Dearen: My mother set the stage when she introduced me to reading at an early age. When I was 14, my English teacher, Bob Bass, gave me what everyone needs — a dream — when he suggested I consider writing as a career. I went home that very afternoon and began my first novel.

Reporter-Telegram: Were you destined to write about western/American Southwest themes? Did you ever think about writing on a different subject?

Dearen: With a reading background in Burroughs and Brackett, my first love was science fiction.  Indeed, just this month, my space adventure Starflight 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’ve always loved West Texas history. Nothing intrigues me more than the out-of-the-way places in our region, as well as the men and women who forged lives here. West Texas has largely been overlooked in Texas literature, and it’s been my honor to share a little of its mystique through both my fiction and nonfiction.

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

Dearen: My nonfiction and fiction go hand in hand.  My nonfiction research gives me the background to write my novels, and in researching my novels, I often find ideas to develop into nonfiction works.  Twelve of my books touch upon the Pecos River, which I’ve been researching for 40 years. “Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos River” is the first book-length environmental history of the river from headwaters to Rio Grande. It was painful to see much of the headwaters forest in flames earlier this year, but my research allowed me to provide historical context for the New York Times and Santa Fe New Mexican.

Reporter-Telegram: At age 71, what’s next for you professionally?

Dearen: I’ll never retire, because I have to write in order to feel right about myself. 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’m writing on yet another novel set in West Texas history.

Patrick Dearen fast facts


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


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

Number of books written

26 published books, including 16 novels and 10 nonfiction books.

Your favorite authors

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, James Oliver Curwood.

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

The Big Drift, for which I had the good fortune of winning five awards, including the Spur Award of Western Writers of America. It’s the story of two cowhands — one black, one white — who face a brutal blizzard and their own racially charged backgrounds to return drifted cattle to their home range.

Favorite place in West Texas or New Mexico to visit

The headwaters of the Pecos River in northern New Mexico.



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