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Diary of Mattie Spenser (Dallas) - Author Bio

Author Bio
Birth—June 11, 1939
Where—N/A
Education—B.A., University of Denver
Awards—numerous, see below
Currently—lives in Denver, Colorado, USA


Award-winning author Sandra Dallas was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue magazine.  Sandra’s novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films.

A journalism graduate of the University of Denver, Sandra began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. A staff member for twenty-five years (and the magazine’s first female bureau chief,) she covered the Rocky Mountain region, writing about everything from penny-stock scandals to hard-rock mining, western energy development to contemporary polygamy. Many of her experiences have been incorporated into her novels.

While a reporter, she began writing the first of ten nonfiction books. They include Sacred Paint, which won the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Western Heritage Wrangler Award, and The Quilt That Walked to Golden, recipient of the Independent Publishers Assn. Benjamin Franklin Award.

Turning to fiction in 1990, Sandra has published eight novels. She is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award for New Mercies, and two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award, for The Chili Queen and Tallgrass. In addition, she was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award, the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Assn. Award, and a four-time finalist for the Women Writing the West Willa Award.

The mother of two daughters—Dana is an attorney in New Orleans and Povy is a photographer in Golden, Colorado— Sandra lives in Denver with her husband, Bob. (From the author's website.)

Her Own Words
• Because of my interest in the West—I wrote nine nonfiction books about the West before I turned to fiction—I’m a sucker for women’s journals of the westward movement. I wanted The Diary of Mattie Spenser to have the elements of a novel but to read as much like a 19th century journal as possible. Mattie is a woman of her time, not a current-day heroine dressed in a long skirt, and the language is faithful to the Civil War era.

• I added dialogue to keep the diary entries from being too stilted for contemporary readers. Making the diary believable has had an unforeseen consequence: Many readers believe it is an actual journal. They’ve asked where the diary is kept and what happened to the characters after the journal ended. One reader accused me of rewriting some of Mattie’s entries because she recognized my style. Another sent me a copy of an early Denver photograph, asking if the man in the picture was one of the characters in the book. (Author bio from the author's website.)




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