You may know Scott Graham as a former Durango city councilor, but did you know he’s also a National Outdoor Book award winner turned mystery writer?
Next week, Graham, who was raised in Durango, in collaboration with Bear Smart Durango, will be celebrating the launch of the third book in his National Park Mystery series at Maria’s Bookshop.
The novel, Yellowstone Standoff, finds archaeologist Chuck Bender working with his old friend, Yellowstone Chief Ranger Lex Hancock, to keep a group of scientists on an expedition safe from the park’s bears and wolves that have gone out of control. As readers delve deeper into the book, they find there’s a mystery to be solved as well.
And Graham’s not done with the series. He hopes that eventually, the national parks themselves will pick the books up and sell them in their gift shops. That’s what he and publisher Torrey House Press out of Salt Lake City are working on.
“At this point, we’ve got a five-book plan in our minds – the publisher and I – and we’re hoping that with five books, we’ll see if it will really take off,” he said. “With a series, that’s what you really have to do: You have to build an audience and get enough product out there that the bigger carriers – the concessionaires at the parks – will deem you worthy of taking on.”
While Graham is starting to promote Yellowstone Standoff, he’s already starting work on the series’ fourth installment.
“The idea of a mystery series is that you build an audience over time,” he said. “The audience expects a book a year, that’s kind of the general expectation, so I’ve been putting out one a year since. You write them a year in advance. I’m just finishing up the fourth book, which is Yosemite. It’ll be called Yosemite Fall, and it will then come out next summer, and then while it’s being promoted and edited, I will then be writing the fifth book in the series next year.”
And, he said, they’re getting easier to write.
“They’re tough, in a great, fun, fascinating way,” Graham said. “Each one is getting easier because I’ve kind of learned – it’s just like anything, repetition helps. So they’re getting easier, but still a wonderful challenge. I’m having the time of my life.”
In order to promote Yellowstone Standoff, Graham will be working his way all around Yellowstone, appearing at various bookshops. He did the same with his book, Mountain Rampage, last year and appeared at bookshops around Rocky Mountain National Park.
“What I’ve really done is taken my love of the outdoors and put it into these books,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of people who visit national parks don’t camp. They’re day visitors staying in the lodges, but they’re there because they’re interested in the outdoors, and so I’m able to take my love of the outdoors – camping and all of that – and put that into these books as well.
“And I’ve done that on purpose also by having my archaeologist, who’s an outdoorsy guy, meet up with and marry a younger woman with two daughters who have been city people, and so he’s getting to try to introduce them to the outdoors with the resultant friction that occurs.”
So, why mysteries?
“Because they’re fun,” Graham said. “And because they’re really a great way to dive into fiction because you’ve got a template that is an expectation for what the reader wants. This is fun; this is what I really like.
“I’m really putting everything I’ve got into it,” he said. “I’m really enjoying it.”