Lifetime Achievement Award

Margaret Coel

On June 22, 2012, Margaret Coel was named the first Colorado Book Awards Lifetime Achievement Award recipient at the 21st Annual Colorado Book Awards ceremony in Aspen.

Coel is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River mystery series set among the Arapahos on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation and featuring Jesuit priest Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. The novels have received wide recognition. They have been on the bestseller lists of numerous newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Six novels have received the Colorado Book Award. The Spirit Woman received the Willa Cather Award for Best Novel of the West and was a finalist for the Western Writers of America's Spur Award for Best Novel.

Along with the Wind River mystery series, Margaret Coel is the author of five nonfiction books, including the award-winning Chief Left Hand, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This biography of an Arapaho chief and history of the Arapahos in Colorado has never gone out of print. The Colorado Historical Society has included both Chief Left Hand and Margaret's memoir-history of railroading in Colorado, Goin' Railroading (which she wrote with her father, Samuel F. Speas) among the best 100 books on Colorado history. Her articles on the West have appeared in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, American Heritage of Invention & Technology, Creativity! and many other publications.

A native Coloradan, Coel hails from a pioneer Colorado family. The West — the mountains, plains, and vast spaces — are in her bones, she says. She moved out of Colorado on two occasions — to attend Marquette University and to spend a couple of years in Alaska. Both times she couldn't wait to get back!