It’s a murder mystery

Local author debuts young adult novel


Courtesy Photo Erin S. Gray

Local authors have always been enticed to write about the history of Southwest Colorado. After all, it is home to some of the most amazing geographical sites and most eclectic cultural backgrounds. Around every bend is a new inspiration. Erin S. Gray, a long-time resident of Cortez and the Southwest area, is a historical fiction writer. She will be presenting her first young adult novel, Moonshine Murder, Friday, Sept. 21 at Cold Stone Creamery from 4 to 7 p.m.

“I’m an avid backpacker and one day I stumbled upon an abandoned cabin,” Gray said. “The creative part of me immediately thought, who lived here? Who were they?”

Moonshine Murder is about a young girl, Lenora Giovanni, living in the San Juan Mountains with her father, who is poisoned by tainted moonshine. Her tragic loss leads her to Durango where she stumbles upon secrets, deception and scandals, prompting Lenora to ask herself life’s hardest questions. “Even though it’s fiction I want it to be accurate,” Gray said. “I’ve always been fascinated by local things that I’ve seen or visited.” In keeping with the locality of the book, Gray enlisted William Glenn to design the cover and her promotional items. Glenn is a graphic designer and also a resident of Cortez. He felt that localizing every detail of the book really added to the content. “We grew up in the area and surrounding areas where people actually lived the very unique lifestyle depicted in the book,” Glenn said. “I urge any person young or old to do their own “digging” to learn more about it.” Gray believes combining history with young adult fiction is more appealing to young readers and may help them to take reading more seriously. “This book is packed full of history,” Gray said. “It’s a great story, it’s a great length. It was fun to research and it’s the story that really brings it to life.”

She added the book is geared towards young adults but there is no reason why adults can’t enjoy it and Glenn agrees.

“I think there is a little something for everyone in the book. Suspense, history and romance in just the right quantities to keep you glued to the pages,” he said. Gray will be selling autographed copies of Moonshine Murder and the first 100 buyers will get their name put in a drawing for a free Kindle e-reader. If you are unable to attend the party, purchasing the book from her website,, will also put you in the drawing. “Dollar Scoop” ice cream, door prizes and free bookmarks will also be available.

Gray is a graduate of Colorado State University, the 2013 president elect for the non-profit organization, Women Writing the West, a full-time mommy and a backpacking enthusiast. To learn more about Gray, visit her website at You can also purchase her book from Amazon and the publisher’s website,