CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – If you’re an avid reader, you probably have a favorite author whose books never disappoint. Did you know there was a day dedicated to helping you honor and support your favorite authors?
November 1 is National Author’s Day. To help celebrate, here’s a list of 12 West Virginia authors, including novelists, short story writers, and children’s book writers.
Most famous for his second book Rocket boys, Hickam grew up in the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia. His memoirs detail the story of his life growing up in the Mountain State. According to the Homer Hickam website, Rocket boys has since been translated into eight languages and also published as an abridged audiobook and e-book. In addition to graduating from Big Creek High School in 1960, Hickam earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in 1964.
Hickam is also a veteran of the United States Army, serving as a First Lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967-1968, where he won the Army Commendation and Bronze Star medals. Hickam’s writing career began upon his return from Vietnam: From writing about his scuba diving adventures for a variety of different magazines to publishing several novels, Homer Hickam is easily a favorite across the country. and in his native West Virginia roots. His new book, Don’t explode, is available for pre-order.
While his books may be fiction, the real details of West Virginia’s underground coal mining lie deep within his books. Denise Giardina grew up in a West Virginia coal mining camp known as Black Wolf. His experiences are central to two of his books, Storming the sky and The Worried Earth. You can learn more about her on this West Virginia Writers List.
Thompson, who was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia and lived in Point Pleasant, specializes in horror and suspense books and has a number of novels in this genre. She wrote nearly 20 novels published from 1990 to 2020, including Just Breathtaking, Last seen alive and Pray for time. Pets are one of his main inspirations; her very first book that she wrote as a child was about her golden retriever, and she even has a pet photo album that she has included in her novels on her website.
Stephen Coonts grew up in Buckhannon, West Virginia, and attended the University of West Virginia. After graduating, Coonts joined the Navy and went on to earn his law degree and practiced law in West Virginia. His first book, Theft of the intruder, was published by the Naval Institute Press in 1986 and was on the New York Times bestseller list for 28 weeks. After the success of his first novel, he became a full-time writer.
Coonts was also inducted into the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni and received an honorary doctorate of letters from WVU. Coonts has many other military thrillers including its most recent release, Dragon jaw.
Rajia grew up in Egypt, but has been living in West Virginia since the age of 23. She attended and taught at Marshall University and currently lives in Charleston, West Virginia. His two novels, In the language of miracles (2015) and A pure heart (2019), address topics such as immigration, family struggles and tragedy. His first book was a New York Times Editor’s Choice Award Winner.
Originally from Huntington, West Virginia, Craig Johnson now lives in Wyoming and writes detective novels based on his new home, but Johnson credits his West Virginia roots to helping him create his stories. Some of his most popular books feature protagonist Sheriff Walt Longmire; the six-season Longmire series is based on these books. Morning Star Girl, the 17th volume of the Walt Longmire series, and Next to Last Stand were both New York Times bestsellers.
Having published over 20 books, including children’s picture books and chapter books, young adult fiction and poetry, Cynthia Rylant has a range of literature. As a child, she lived in Cool Ridge, West Virginia, with her grandparents while her mother attended school. She later lived in Beaver, West Virginia, with her mother. After graduating from high school at Beaver, she attended Morris Harvey College, which is now the University of Charleston, and then Marshall University, where she graduated.
His book, When I was young in the mountains was published in 1982, winning the American Book Award. Some of his other popular works are Paradise dog and Cat paradise and Newbery medalist May missing.
This Wheeling, West Virginia resident has published 14 children’s books that have been translated and appreciated around the world as well as several collections of poems. Harshman was named West Virginia’s 12th Poet Laureate in 2012.
Some of his most popular works include children’s books Waterfall, which tells the story of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright building his famous building atop a waterfall, and A big family which depicts the chaotic fun of a family reunion. He received the Allen Ginsburg Poetry Award, the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Poetry Prize and the Blue Lynx Prize for his collection of poetry. Woman in Red Anorak.
Anna egan smucker
Smucker has written extensively in children’s literature, including co-author Waterfall with poet laureate Marc Harshman. She has created a multitude of West Virginia inspired books such as No Star Night, a memoir about growing up in Weirton, West Virginia, Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story, Brother Giovanni’s little reward: how the pretzel was born and A history of West Virginia, a concise West Virginia history book for all ages.
Two of his books were selected to represent West Virginia at the National Book Festival. She also received a West Virginia Artist Fellowship. Smucker currently lives in Bridgeport where she writes and conducts writing workshops.
News writer Ann Pancake grew up in Summersville and Romney, West Virginia. She is currently a professor of fiction in the Appalachians and an active member of the community at the University of West Virginia. His short story collections have received numerous awards, including the Bakeless 2000 Award for Land given and a Whiting Award. She has also received several creative writing scholarships in several states.
His fiction often highlights environmental concerns in West Virginia like his 2007 novel, As strange as this time has been, which depicts the devastation of mountain top mining, and its collection of short stories, Me and dad listen to Bob Marley, which shows the intense connection between West Virginia and the lands of West Virginia.
Jayne Anne Philips
After growing up in Buckhannon, West Virginia, Philips published their first short story book at the age of 26. She has published several novels, including Motherkind who won the Massachusetts Book Award, but is also known to be a short story writer and essayist. Her short stories include Black tickets and Fast lanes. She is also a recipient of the Guggenheim and several other scholarships.
His most recent novel, Silent Dell, is a chilling fiction that follows the investigation of a Chicago mother and her mysteriously deceased children.
Pinckney grew up near Lewisburg, West Virginia, and is known for implementing the dark side of the Appalachian heritage in his novels and short stories. He has taught creative writing at several colleges, including West Virginia University. Her most famous short story collections are Town Smokes and other stories (1987) and Miracle Boy and other stories (2010). The latter contains 14 short works that tell the stories of boys and men in the Appalachians with elements of supernatural folklore.
Pinckney received a Literature Fellowship, two Plattner Fiction Awards from Appalachian Heritage Magazine, and a Fiction Grant from the Illinois Arts Council.