Nevada Writers Hall of Fame honors two native Nevadans

10/27/2008 - By: Claudene Wharton

An author who was born in Elko, Nev., attended the University of Nevada, Reno and wrote about Las Vegas' links to Wall Street, international drug traffickers and the CIA will be inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Nov. 13 on campus.

Sally Denton cowrote with her husband, Roger Morris, The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and its Hold on America, published in 2001. The book exposed disturbing connections among politicians, businessmen and criminals, and revealed Las Vegas' breadth of influence across the nation. 

It was one of five of Denton's published historical narratives. Other works include American Massacre: The Tragedy of Mountain Meadows, September 1857; The Bluegrass Conspiracy: an Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs, and Murder; Faith and Betrayal: A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West; and mostly recently, Passion and Principle: John and Jessie Fremont, the Couple Whose Power, Politics, and Love Shaped Nineteenth-Century America. 

Awaiting publication is Denton's A Force of Nature: Helen Gahagan Douglas and the War for America's Future. Gahagan Douglas was an actress and U.S. congresswoman from California in the 1940s and '50s. 

Denton's award-winning investigative reporting has also appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post and American Heritage. She has received a long list of honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006 and the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award in 2003. 

The Silver Pen Award is the other award presented annually as part of the Hall of Fame's program, produced by the Friends of the University of Nevada, Reno Library. While the Hall of Fame award recognizes an established writer with experience and longevity, the Silver Pen Award recognizes emerging and mid-career writers of promise. 

Denton, who lives with her three sons in Santa Fe, N.M., said, "I was really honored to receive the Silver Pen. Being a fourth-generation Nevadan and going to UNR, I consider myself, first and foremost, a Nevadan. Now, I am completely bowled over by being inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame this year, alongside writers like Bob Laxalt and Walter Van Tilburg Clark. That's pretty good company."

Don Waters, a Reno native who won critical acclaim for his collection of short stories published last year in Desert Gothic, will receive this year's Silver Pen Award. The stories take place in the offbeat desert communities of Nevada and Arizona. Last year's Nevada Writers Hall of Fame inductee Douglas Unger said of the book, "Don Waters writes with an uncompromising eye about the slyly grim, yet fascinating journeys of characters who long ago decided they've had enough of second chances." 

Waters has received numerous additional honors, including the 2007 Iowa Short Fiction Award for Desert Gothic, the 2009 Pushcart Prize and several fellowships.

"This Silver Pen Award is the most special because it comes from my home state and I still have a lot of connection to Nevada," he said. Like Denton, Waters, who has family members residing in Reno, lives in Santa Fe.

A selection committee of representatives from throughout the state chooses both the inductee to the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and the Silver Pen Award recipient. Award-winning writers must demonstrate a Nevada connection, either in their subject matter or by living in Nevada.

This year's awards will be presented 6 - 8 p.m., Nov. 13 at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at the University. The reception and silent auction begin at 6 p.m., with the formal program commencing at 7 p.m. Both writers will be available to sign books. The $40 ticket to the event includes beverages and hors d'oeuvres and supports the services of the University Libraries. 

Event sponsors are: Ed and Sharron DeBolt, Arrow Vending, Andrea Crowell, Bud and Suzette Hicks, Bobbi and Dale Lazzarone, Bob and Susie McQuaid, NAI Alliance, Janice Pine and Spike Wilson. For more information or reservations, call the Friends of the University of Nevada, Reno Library, (775) 682-5690.


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