east of denver

Winner of the 2013 Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction.

Reading group guide

One of this summer's most pleasant surprises.-- Austin American-Statesman

A terrific first novel from a writer with a great sense of character.Booklist

Mixing pathos and humor in equal measure, East of Denver is an unflinching novel of rural America, a poignant, darkly funny tale about a father and son finding their way together as their home and livelihood inexorably disappears.

More reviews...


upcoming events

--Sometime in February, 2018 7:00 pm
Triple book release: East of Denver, Revised Edition; The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles, Revised Edition; and Zebra Skin Shirt, the thrilling conclusion to the Strattford Trilogy.
Place TBD (probably the Tattered Cover on Colfax)

Keep (slightly more) up-to-date at my Sparky the Dog facebook page, which gathers my various musical and literary projects in one place. Facebook is stupid.


--Monthy Column for the Yuma Pioneer: I've recently begun writing a regular column for my hometown newspaper, the Yuma Pioneer. It's called "Increasing the Resolution" and, at least for now, it primarily focuses on life-lessons I learned as a shitty six-man football player at Liberty High School in Joes, Colorado. I'm archiving the columns HERE. I'm too lazy to proofread them; there will be typos.

--June 13, 2017: Release dates for the Strattford Trilogy, re-revised...

After shifting the release dates multiple times, I think we finally have everything nailed down. Conundrum Press is going release my third novel, Zebra Skin Shirt, along with revised editions of East of Denver and The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles in February, 2018. Together, the three novels will form the Strattford Trilogy.

We're currently working on final revisions for all three novels, as well as cover art. It's gonna be groovy.

--If you enjoy my stuff, I encourage you to read Zach Boddicker's debut novel, The Essential Carl Mahogany, published by Last Chance Press.

With bands such as Drag the River and 4H Royalty, Zach has been a fixture in Colorado music for years. Turns out he's also a hell of a writer.

Zach invited me to write a blurb and I did so gladly: With internal dialogue to match Nick Hornby at his best (see High Fidelity), and external dialogue that's reminiscent of early Don Delillo (see Great Jones Street, possibly the only musician-novel that I dare compare to this one), author Zach Boddicker has crafted an elegant, oddball, and unapologetically funny tale of ex-Nashville, ex-famous, and ex-boyfriend Carl Mahogany and his existential mission to recover his soul in a tumbleweed junction on the Great Plains of eastern Colorado. Rarely have I seen so much wit mingle so comfortably with such an honest portrayal of rural America's anarchic spirit.


An animated version of an early draft I did for the
Zebra Skin Shirt
book cover:

zebra skin hsirt
(it's made out of wood)



--September 2, 2016: Fucking Fabulous Fiction Fest
9:00 pm, Oriental Theater at 44th and Tennyson, Denver
I'll be rocking and reading at the Oriental Theater, along with several other authors and musicians for the second annual Fucking Fabulous Fiction Fest, as hosted by High Fiction. It was a blast last year, and it'll be even more blasty this year.
9:00 pm, Oriental Theater at 44th and Tennyson.

--July 28, 2016: Novel #3: My new book, Zebra Skin Shirt, is finished. Taking place over the course of ten minutes on the same day that East of Denver ends, the story provides a nutsoid conclusion to The Strattford Trilogy.

Zebra Skin Shirt will be published in the autumn of 2017 by Conundrum Press, based in Golden, Colorado. I remain grateful to the good people at Leapfrog Press who published The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles and who never once tried to turn the book into something it wasn't. In moving to Conundrum, I'm able to fulfill a longtime ambition of working with a publisher based in Colorado.

--July 23, 2016: Interview: Michelle LeJeune has posted what might be the kookiest interview I've done (so far) at her excellent blog, broad.

--May 23-25, 2016: Artist-In-Residence at the M12 space in Byers, CO: Thanks to M12 for inviting me stay in the bunk house where I was able to write some words and pretend I'm an artist.

Wood Guy

--March 24, 2016: KGNU Interview: Here's a more-or-less coherent interview conducted by KGNU's terrific Maeve Conran and Arsen Kashkashian of the Boulder Bookstore: KGNU Radio Bookclub

--February 1, 2016: Johnny Riles audio book (as recorded by your humble author) receives official release on the brand-new audio label from Mint 400 Records.
jr audio

--November 9, 2015: Colorado Matters Interview
Click here to listen to the CPR interview wherein I try to explain to Nathan Heffel why a bouncing screw is the perfect anology for my approach to plotting.

--October 30, 2015: So you think Johnny Riles is implausible? A few stories that may blow your freaking mind (assuming you've read The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles, which, if you haven' t done, I suggest you do posthaste).

The man who killed John Wilkes Booth went crazy, lived in a hole in the ground and used a pair of scissors to render himself unable to reproduce.

A guy digs up a wooly mammoth on his Michigan farm.

Pre-human hominoid remains discovered in suspiciously familiar underground cavern.

Weirdo digs underground bunker.

(Thanks to Marrion, Betty, Maureen, and Tony for the leads.)

--June 14, 2015: Best seller. In the week of its release, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles was the Denver area's best selling paperback fiction title.

--June 4, 2015: The book has been launched. Thanks to everyone for coming out for a terrific event. And thanks to Mark Stevens for capturing the video...

--May 29, 2015: I've finished the Johnny Riles audio book. Listen to the first third of the book for free or download the whole thing from Bandcamp for just $10. I do not have plans to release it on CD.

-- December, 2013: The New York Times likes the East of Denver cover art.
Best Book Covers of 2013.

-- June, 2013: East of Denver receives the 2013 Colorado Book Award for literary fiction.

-- February, 2013: East of Denver has been optioned for film development by Erin Harper.
Erin produced the 2012 Sundance selection, My Best Day. Erin grew up in eastern Colorado, forty miles north of my hometown.

johnny riles

The first great psychedelic western of the 21st Century.

Denver Post best-seller

Reading group guide

Like Hill’s superb debut, East of Denver, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles surely is a damn fine, if distinctly peculiar, country noir.--Booklist

[I]t's a masterpiece. It fucked me up. Bravo. 
-Mike Molnar
Guitarist, The Bellfuries

An unapologetic triumph of contemporary Rural American Realism. --Zach Boddicker, songwriter, 4H Royalty

"... a rich and complex western that crosses over into the shady depths of noir fiction. It’s a stunning read."
--Sarah Reichert The Writing Bug

-- 5280 Magazine

The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles returns to Strattford County, the setting of East of Denver.

It's 1975 and Johnny Riles is in a rough patch. He’s lonesome, he’s drunk, and someone’s murdered his horse. He spends his days searching--for the killer, for his brother’s soul, for a sober reason to live. In this unpredictable tale spun out with dry humor, Johnny delves beneath stark Western landscapes both literal and figurative to unearth the truths behind his nightmares.

More reviews...

You can order my books from any of these fine booksellers (and many others).

tattered cover logo
Tattered Cover

barnes and noble logo
Barnes & Noble

amazon logo

Indie Bound




click to pre-order

vv FAQ press reviews about the book about the author Home