It seems that every month there are more and more writers setting books in Montana. There got to be so many that I had to wonder how many of these writers have ever lived in or spent any length of time in Montana. I started to ask a few, and I wasn't at all surprised to learn that most of them have never been to this incredible state.
When I read a book set in Montana, 9 times out of 10 I can tell if the author has actually been here, spent time in the area in which their book is set, and perhaps even took the time to meet a few of the people. There are a lot of misconceptions about Montana, little nuances that can't be captured through research alone. These misconceptions are what sometimes cause a reader or author to believe one thing when the reality is another.
Writers aren't expected to have visited every place they write about. I have books set in England and Ireland, but I've only been to Scotland and I had to fill in the gaps with research and first-hand accounts from family who have been there and friends who live there. There are a few authors who manage to get everything right even without having step foot in Montana, but those are far and few between (in my opinion).
Why then is it difficult for me to see book after book written by authors who don't know the real Montana? It shouldn't bother me. American authors write books set in England all of the time, many of them having never visited (which I'm sure annoys some English who feel the American writer hasn't managed to capture their country). The same is true for many countries, and of course, the American West.
Most of my books are set in Montana or the Mountain West because I've spent most of my life here. I know the land, the people, the weather, the spectacular beauty, and yes, even the not-so-pretty places.
I haven't figured out why it bothers me, but I'm going to take the opportunity to share a few authors who have written books set in Montana, but who also now (or at some point) have called Montana home.
A.B. Guthrie Jr.
Lesley Ann McDaniel
You might be asking if the list is really this short? No, Montana is brimming with great authors, but I've given you a place to start. I hope you take the time to read Montana books by those who know first-hand this amazing place.
Check out my Montana photo gallery for glimpses into the place me, and many of my characters, call home. Keep in mind that Montana is home to a variety of landscapes. I take photos primarily of the northwest where I live, but much of the state looks quite different.