Pam Houston's barn on an overcast summer day. Yes, this is in the wide-open spaces of Dixie Chicks song,
the American west of McGuane and Cather, and the natural, wild space of Tempest-Williams and Lopez.
It is also the peaceful, beautiful, ever changing, personal, magical space of Pam Houston.

Pam Houston: Writer, Teacher, Mentor, Speaker

“I didn't want to get published in the first place. I wrote to save myself.
Interview Movie
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Audio File
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Location:

Creede, Colorado

Run Time:

39:42

Genre:

Novels, Short Stories, Essays

Website:

Raised:

Trenton, New Jersey

Youthful Influence:

Storytellers: Martha Washington, her 'fairy godmother'; her parents; Col. Bob Miller, with campfire stories and love of the outdoors. On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgsen Burnett were two of her favorite books in her youth.

Favorite Authors:

Tenth of December, George Saunders; Battleborn, Clair Veye Watkins. Toni Morrison, Don DeLillo, Alice Munro, James Coetzee, Tim Winton, Anthony Doerr, Andre Dubus, Robert Boswell, and poets Mark Strand and Larry Levinson.

Creative Habit:

She is a binge writer who ienvisions her books in her head. Her 'outline' is an imagined geometric shape (Contents May Have Shifted was a double Rubik's Cube) that can change if she gets stuck. She jots down observations on scraps of paper, in her phone, in a notebook, but does not keep a journal.

Books
Cowboys Are My Weakness, 1992 (translated into nine languages)
Men before Ten A.M., text, with photographs by Véronique Vial, 1996.
Waltzing the Cat, 1999; reissued in 2013
A Little More About Me, 1999; reissued 2013
A Rough Guide to the Heart, 2001
Sight Hound, 2005
Contents May Have Shifted, 2012
She has also written pieces for Mademoiselle, Mirabella, Mississippi Review, Ploughshares, Redbook, Condé Nast Sports for Women, Outside, House and Garden, Travel and Leisure, Elle, Food and Wine, Ski, Allure, Los Angeles Magazine, New York Times, Vogue, Cimarron Review, and Gettysburg Review

Editing and Introductions
Women on Hunting: Essays, Fiction, and Poetry, 1995 (editing and introduction)
Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction, 2012 (prologue)


Plays

Tracking the Pleiades


Honors and Awards

Ms. Houston's stories have appeared in:
-
Best American Short Stories, 1990
- The O. Henry Prize Stories
- The 2013 Pushcart Prize
- Best American Short Stories of the Century, 1999

NY Times Notable Book - 1992 (Cowboys Are My Weakness)
Western States Book Award - 1994 (Cowboys Are My Weakness)
WILLA Award for Contemporary Fiction (Waltzing the Cat)
The Evil Companions Literary Award 2006
and many teaching awards.

We managed to convince Pam Houston–on very short notice, having decided to head for Boulder only the day before–to take a break for our interview. She was preparing for a group of writers who were about to descend on her for a week, but agreed to make a small window for us. She said that since Tom McGuane did an interview, she would too. We offered to help clean, but by the time we got there after many overheated stops on Wolf Creek Pass, all was ready, and her Irish wolfhounds, Fenton (full name Fenton Johnson, after Pam's friend and fellow writer) and William were on the porch to greet us. Ella wasn't too sure what to do about these very large near-versions of herself and she willingly stayed in the truck.


Pam Houston, Authors Road, Author Interview

The first thing one discovers about Pam is that she is no sissy. She has worked as a hunting and rafting guide, horse trainer, ski instructor, bartender, and highway flag person. She has trekked in Alaska, Nepal, Africa and more. She grew up in a household without books, and became an avid reader and writer. The professors in her Utah Creative Writing MFA program (who believed in 'tough with no love') told her she should find something else to do with her life. She quit the program just months short of completion and became a successful published author.

With just one small turn of fate at a writers conference, she met Houghton Mifflin's Shannon Ravanel who saw her talent, encouraged her, and set her on her path as a

writer. Pam learned from Ravanel and her editor, Carol Houck Smith, not only that she could be a writer for the rest of her life, but that one small act of kindness can make a difference in another's life and in the community.

Pam writes of loving cowboys (and other unsuitable men), large dogs, horses, adventure and odd paths to salvation. She lives on a ranch nestled in a narrow valley outside of Creede, Colorado that, along with her dogs, figures in to her novels. Believing in surprising both herself and the reader, she writes imagining geometric shapes as the shapes of her books, and is a shape-shifter if she gets stuck.

And she is a mentor—a full professor teaching graduate creative writing, supporting writers with individually-crafted advice and through the creation of a nonprofit organization called Writing by Writers (WxW).


Some newer residents.

Pam and William

Fenton gave us a pose too good to pass up.

Headwaters of the Rio Grande
near Pam's ranch.

Fenton and William, Pam's Irish wolfhounds,
hang out with the horses.

The valley looking away from Pam's ranch house.

A sign 'celebrating' corn ethanol in Houston's kitchen.
A valley view from Pam's ranch.

A Haida storyteller graces the wall with memory and inspiration.

Nap time . . .

Found art

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