Nicholas Clapp / WHO KILLED CHESTER PRAY? A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY
Award-Winning Writer, Gunfighter Re-Enactor:
New Mexico native Melody Groves has a deep love for anything cowboy and Old West. As a member of the re-enactment group the New Mexico Gunfighters, she “shoots” sheriffs and outlaws every Sunday in Albuquerque’s Old Town. She also is a member of the New Mexico Rodeo Association.
Winner of two first-place writing awards, Groves is publicity chairman for Western Writers of America and public relations chair for SouthWest Writers. She writes for albuquerqueARTS magazine, True West and New Mexico magazines. Her non-fiction book, Ropes, Reins, and Rawhide: All About Rodeo, (2006 UNM Press) is a guide to understanding the sport.
Arizona War is the third novel in her series, "the Colton Brothers Saga." The second in her Colton Brothers series, Sonoran Rage, will be published by La Frontera Publishing in Fall 2008.
Kenneth L. Kieser / RIDE THE TRAIL OF DEATH
Award-Winning Documentary Film Maker:
“Stricken by curiosity,” is how Nicholas Clapp describes himself. He adds: “Hopelessly.”
After graduating from Brown University (B.A. in American Literature) and the University of Southern California (M.A. in Cinema), Clapp followed a life of adventure and discovery as a documentary film maker for the Walt Disney Co., the National Geographic Society, Columbia Pictures, the Public Broadcasting System, and the David L. Wolper Organization. A hundred films have taken him underwater, through jungles, across deserts, and into Arctic whiteouts. His films have won more than 70 major awards, including a number of Academy Award nominations and Emmys.
In the early 1980s Clapp became intrigued by Ubar, a lost Arabian city thought to exist only in myth. He poured over ancient manuscripts and worked with Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists in analyzing “remote sensing” from the Space Shuttle, and U.S. and French satellites. In 1991-1992, he was co-leader of an expedition that ventured into the sands of Arabia’s “Empty Quarter” and (to their great surprise!) actually found Ubar, a prosperous caravansary of the frankincense trade. The find was rated by TIME magazine and Discovery as one of the top scientific achievements of the year.
The story of the search for Ubar is recounted in his book, The Road to Ubar, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1998. (The book was a Los Angeles Times #2 Best Seller, picked as one of 25 “Books to Remember in 1998” by the New York Public Library, and selected as one of the American Library Association’s ten non-fiction “Notable Books 1999.”)
Clapp then took up the pursuit of a further, abiding legend of Arabia. Not a place, but a person—the fabled Queen of Sheba. Who was she? Did she even exist?
Drawing on his Middle Eastern rambles, he then wrote Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2001. (The book was a Los Angeles Times #1 Best Seller; and a New York Times “New and Notable.” It was also dramatized in a performance by London’s Royal National Theater.)
In recent years, Clapp has roamed a desert closer to home (and his heart) to research and write Who Killed Chester Pray? A Death Valley Mystery. The tale is at once a non-fiction whodunit, and a portrait of a last rush for riches in the American West: a go-for-broke rush to Goldfield and Rhyolite, Nevada—with a final, fatal descent into the blazing heart of California’s Death Valley. Who Killed Chester Pray? A Death Valley Mystery is forthcoming from La Frontera Publishing, to be distributed by the University of New Mexico Press.
Kenneth L. Kieser / RIDE THE TRAIL OF DEATH
Kenneth L. Kieser
Kenneth L. Kieser spent a great deal of his youth riding and falling off horses while playing cowboys and Indians with his cousins on both his dad’s and uncle’s farms close to Easton, Missouri, just about 12 miles from where the Pony Express started and the house where Jesse James met his demise. His family, the Roses, took food and other provisions to the James Gang who always camped in a favorite strip of woods when they passed through the area called Rose Valley in route to various destinations including an occasional bank robbery.
Kieser watched numerous Western movies with his great grandparents, Milo and Mable Rose (whose family is mentioned in the foreword to Ride the Trail of Death) on an old black and white television in the country town of Hemple, Missouri and across the road from the old St. Joseph and Hannibal Railroad spur where the James Gang occasionally passed. He has been a fan of Westerns throughout his life and actually hunted turkeys on a cherished writing assignment with Academy Award winner, Ben Johnson, who starred in numerous Westerns.
Kieser, who resides in the Kansas City area, is a veteran writer of 25 years and several thousand bylines in both newspapers and magazines. His writing and photos has appeared in many of America’s outdoors magazines and several newspapers. He completed a three-year term on the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America’s Board of Directors in 2002 and is now an active member of the Western Writers of America, the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and the Missouri Outdoor Communicators.
Kieser, 52, has won several writing awards in competition with other outdoor communicators. He won the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s Excellence in Craft, Best Magazine Article or Feature for 2005. He has edited several publications and once designed a writing program for sophomores at Park Hill High School in Kansas City that was used during a three-year period when several students won writing awards, some in national competition. Ride the Trail of Death is his first novel.