David Heska Wanbli Weiden discusses the first pages of his novel, Winter Counts, how he studied fight scenes to get it right, his best dialog tricks, the vulnerabilities of his tough-guy protagonist, and how to speak to political and social justice issues while staying true to your story.
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David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, is the author of Winter Counts (Ecco, 2020), which was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. The book was the winner of the Anthony, Thriller, Lefty, Barry, Macavity, Spur, High Plains, Electa Quinney, Tillie Olsen, CrimeFest (UK), and Crime Fiction Lover (UK) Awards, and was longlisted for many other awards. The novel was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, an Indie Next pick, main selection of the Book of the Month Club, and named a Best Book of the year by NPR, Amazon, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, The Guardian, and other magazines. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories 2022, Denver Noir, Midnight Hour, This Time for Sure, Never Whistle at Night, and The Perfect Crime. He’s the series editor of Native Edge, an imprint of the University of New Mexico Press specializing in Indigenous literature. Weiden received the PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship and is the recipient of fellowships and residencies from MacDowell, Ucross, Ragdale, Vermont Studio Center, Sewanee, and Tin House. Weiden received his MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, his law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor of Native American studies and Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver and serves on the faculty of the Cedar Crest Pan-European MFA Program and also the Mile-High MFA Program at Regis University. He lives in Denver with his family.