Western writers converging in Great Falls this month and in 2022

Six  western authors and filmmakers are gathering in Great Falls later this month for a two-day seminar on the art of writing about the American frontier.

The 2019 James Ersfeld Symposium is presented by Western Writers of America and is part of the organization efforts to encourage writing, particularly in the Western genre, according to Chriss Enss, WWA’s vice president.

This year’s symposium is Writing the West:  From the Ox-Bow Incident to Killers of the Flower Moon and is bringing Spur Award winner Nancy Plain author of This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon, New York Times bestselling authors Kat Martin and Chris Enss, bestselling author Larry Martin, TwoDot Books’ senior acquisitions editor Erin Turner, and documentary filmmaker Andrew Patrick Nelson.

Ambitious authors interested in penning a western book or writing a western film can take advantage of a series of panels about the craft scheduled for Sept 27-28 at the C.M. Russell Museum.

Enss said that 25 people had registered so far and registration remains open until the day of the symposium.

James Ersfeld Memorial Symposium

Enss said the writers are “particularly pleased” to be in Great Falls this month since the organization’s 2022 convention will be held here, bringing 750 to 1,000 authors from around the world, including Academy Award, Pulitzer, Emmy and other major prize winners, “people that are celebrated in that field.”

“WWA was incorporated in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West. Like the Western landscape itself, WWA and the books, songs, and stories produced by its members have evolved immensely,” according to the organization’s website.

Today we have more than 650 members including C.J. Box, Anne Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Tom Clavin, Nancy Plain, Mark Hall-Patton, Thomas Cobb, Chris Enss, Kat Martin, Kirk Ellis, Lucia St. Clair Robson, Johnny D. Boggs, Paul Andrew Hutton and David Morrell.

Enss said of this month’s symposium that “it’s wondering to have this kind of panel to talk about Western writing and have people consider writing about the Western frontier. It’s more than Little House on the Prairie. Just because they’re not riding a horse or carrying a six-shooter doesn’t mean it’s not a Western.”

Enss said it’s great to host the symposium at the Russell Museum since the story of Charlie and Nancy Russel is a contemporary Western.

She said the organization opted to host the biennial symposium in Great Falls to bring awareness to the city in advance of their convention to “get people excited to come to Great Falls.”

There are no prerequisites to attend the Western Writers of America James Ersfeld Symposium but registration is $130.  To register to be a part of the western writing experience contact Candy Moulton at 307-329-8942 or email wwa.moulton@gmail.com.

Membership with Western Writers of America requires being a published author, but the 2022 convention in Great Falls will be open to anyone, Enss said.