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Nationally acclaimed authors to visit Archer City’s Royal Theater

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(Archer City, TX)  On Monday, July 22, Archer City’s Royal Theater will host a group of nationally acclaimed authors who are coming to Archer City from all corners of the country to speak to the community about the challenges of making characters of history come alive on the page. “From the Past to the Page,” with authors Ben Montgomery, Jason Ryan, James M. Scott, Julia Flynn Siler, and Erik Calonius, will start at 7 p.m. in the landmark theater. It is open to the community and admission is free.

Although the event is part of the three-day Archer City Writers Workshop, the night at the Royal is not just for writers. Anyone who enjoys reading, especially historical nonfiction and fiction, will appreciate listening to how these authors researched and turned volumes of notes into stories that give life and relevance to both well-known and sometimes obscure characters and events from the past. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask the authors any questions they want during an extensive question and answer period following their presentations.

Author and journalist Montgomery will kick off the night by speaking about his newest book, The Man Who Walked Backward: an American Dreamer’s Search for Meaning in the Great Depression. Plennie Wingo, from Abilene, Texas, hatched a grand scheme to raise money during the height of the Great Depression. He would walk backward across the world. His story has a local tie – for a time in the 1920s, his family moved to North Texas and operated a restaurant in Dundee. Wingo also traveled to Wichita Falls in the 1980s and went door-to-door selling a book he had written about his adventure.

After Montgomery’s presentation, Calonius will moderate Ryan, Scott, and Siler in a panel discussion about “Digging Deep: How to Resurrect the Dead from the Tomb of History.” Authors’ books will be available for purchase after the discussion and they will all be available for signing.

This event is made possible by a grant from the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation – Royal C. “Bingo” Kinder Advised Fund, and sponsored by the Royal Theater and the Archer County News.

This marks the 15th summer that writers have trekked to Archer City’s Spur Hotel after the University of North Texas’ Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Grapevine to study with some of the best nonfiction writers in the country. “The Writers” consider Archer City their summer home, and the residents and environment a great inspiration for their writing.

Author bios

Ben Montgomery is a former writer for the Tampa Bay Times, one of the most respected newspapers in the country. He has taught narrative journalism at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and at universities and workshops across the country, including the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, the National Writers Workshop, and the University of North Texas’ Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. He is the author of Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman who Saved the Appalachian Trail. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 and has won many other national writing awards. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk won the National Outdoor Book Award in 2014.

Jason Ryan’s newest book is Race to Hawaii: The 1927 Dole Derby and the Thrilling First Flights that Opened the Pacific. Publishers Weekly says, “Aviation buffs, armchair adventurers, historians, and Hawaii aficionados will be unable to put down this gripping book.” He is also author of Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs and Hell-Bent: One Man’s Crusade to Crush the Hawaiian Mob. He is a graduate of Georgetown University.

James M. Scott is a noted historian and former Nieman Fellow at Harvard who has written four books – The War Below, Target Tokyo, Attack on the Liberty, and Rampage. From 2010, The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship, won the Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid that Avenged Pearl Harbor was a Pulitzer finalist for History in 2016. Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita and the Battle of Manila was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by the editors at Amazon, Kirkus, and Military Times.

Julia Flynn Siler is the 2017 Mayborn Fellowship in Biography winner and a New York Times best-selling author and long-time journalist. She was a London-based staff correspondent for Businessweek, where she was a member of reporting teams that won a National Magazine Award, a Deadline Club award, as well as other honors. Her new book, The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Against Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown, was released in May. Her other books are The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, and Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure.

Erik Calonius is the author of The Wanderer: The Last American Slave Ship and the Conspiracy That Set its Sails. About the last American slave ship, the book inspired the creation of a city museum that attracts visitors from around the world. He is a former reporter, editor and London-based foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. He served as Miami Bureau Chief for Newsweek. He also served as an editor and writer for Fortune, where he was nominated for the National Magazine Award.

Also speaking during the workshop are George Getschow and Bill Marvel. Getschow is co-founder, with native Wichitan Mitch Land, of the nationally acclaimed Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. He spent 16 years at The Wall Street Journal as a reporter, editor, bureau chief and on the Page One Rewrite Desk. At the Journal, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for distinguished writing about the underprivileged. Getschow was principal lecturer for the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism and writing coach for a number of storytellers in the Southwest. He was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for his “distinctive literary achievement.” He has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror for feature writing at Columbia University.

Marvel is a journalist, mentor, and teacher with more than 45 years experience in hard news and features.He has served as art critic and senior arts editor at The National Observer and as senior staff writer at The Dallas Morning News before retiring in 2006. Marvel has written for Smithsonian, Horizon, American Heritage of Invention & Technology, American Way, and D Magazine. His collaboration with R.V. Burgin, Islands of the Damned, was released in 2010 and coincided with the premiere of HBO’s Spielberg/Hanks-produced dramatic series, “The Pacific,” which portrayed Burgin’s experiences as a marine in World War II. The Rock Island Line, Marvel’s history of the famous railroad, was published by University of Indiana Press.