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David Heska Wanbli Weiden Books In Order

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Skin (With: Abby L. Vandiver) (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

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David Heska Wanbli Weiden is a crime thriller fiction author who loves to describe himself as an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation. He is best known as the author of “Winter Counts,” his debut novel that he published in 2020. The novel went on to become an Editors’ Choice at the New York Times Book Review and also made the list for a Publishers Weekly Best Books in 2020. It is a Goodreads Choice Award winner, BuzzFeed Book Club November Choice, and an Indie Next Great Reads pick. Weiden is also the author of the biographical novel “Spotted Tail” published in 2019 that won the Western Writers of America Spur Award in 2020. Aside from his fiction work, Weiden has also published in “Tribal College Journal,” the “New York Times,” “Criminal Class Review,” “Shenandoah,” “Transmotion,” and “Yellow Medicine Review” among other magazines. He is also the editor of the journal of international arts and literature Anomaly. Since he loves teaching, he spends much of his time teaching an MFA program in Publishing and Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, and the Western Colorado University MFA program.

David Weiden was brought up in Denver Colorado in the Elyria/Swansea neighborhood that is known as one of the most impoverished and polluted neighborhoods in the United States. His family would later move to Aurora, a much better suburb though he still spent much of his childhood in poverty. Apart from his time in Colorado, he also spent a lot of time in the Rosebud Reservation where his mother had grown up. He still owns three pieces of land on the reservation and goes back frequently to take part in Native American ceremonies and to visit family and friends. Weiden was the first in his family to go to college and graduate, leave alone go to graduate school. While he grew up in a very poor household, the love for reading was inculcated in him very early on as both his parents loved reading and encouraged him to read. Given his family situation, he had to work full time as a high schooler, throughout his college years and in graduate school. David Weiden has held many jobs over the years including a magic store clerk, dishwasher, telephone salesperson, busboy, construction worker, roofer, waiter, professor, and lawyer. He loved being a bartender and waiter and often fantasizes about taking a few shifts at his local bar.

While Weiden had a very good start with parents who loved reading, they would divorce while he was still a teen and he had quite a rough childhood. He loved reading but sometimes he could not get a library and has to do with the Bookmobile that came around to his school on Fridays. He was the type of child that would borrow ten books and even though they would sometimes sleep in his mother’s car, he would be done reading them by the end of the week. As such, he has always had that obsession with books though he never had a sense of the many possibilities that were available to him in the writing field. Since none of his parents had been to college they did not know what to do with his passion for books. Therefore, he had to figure out everything by himself. As a child and later teen, Weiden never had the framework and understanding that he could become an author. As a poor kid, he attended a state school and decided to pursue a career in the law, passed his bar exam, and then became a lawyer for several years since pursuing a corporate career was what people did. However, Weiden realized that he was not having as much impact as he thought he would and quit the law though he still has his law license.

David Weiden went back to college, this time taking a political science doctorate as he wanted to immerse himself in research and ideas. He has now been a professor for more than two decades and teaches Native American Studies, political science, and law. But he always wanted to read literature and when he was not teaching he thought that maybe he should take a stab at becoming an author. But since he was a professor and had kids it was not possible to find the time to fulfill his dreams of becoming an author. About a dozen years ago he started writing short stories in his notebook and soon joined a local writer’s organization that offered writing classes. He was good enough at the short stories that his teacher told him he needed to go take an MFA in creative writing. He was nervous about taking an MFA as he believed he had done too much studying already. However, he applied to the Vermont College of Fine Arts and was surprised when he was accepted. Weiden decided to transfer to the Institute of American Indian Arts for his MFA given that their Santa Fe program was geared towards Native authors. Heska Wanbli Weiden believes that it was his education at IAIA that helped him hone his skills and become the author he is today.

“Winter Counts” by David Weiden is the story of local enforcer Virgil, who is in charge of the South Dakotan Rosebud Indian Reservation. When the tribal council or the American legal system denies anyone justice, Virgil is often called upon to deliver his particular brand of punishment that the guilty party will not forget soon. But when Virgil’s nephew is found with heroin inside the reservation, his quest for justice becomes personal. He gets the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to investigate who is bringing drugs into the reservation and how to stop them. He finds a promising lead and heads to Denver, where he learns that the drug cartels have been on an expansion spree and have been making terrifying new alliances. Back home, a new tribal council starts an initiative that threatens to become too powerful. As Virgil starts making the connections he needs to reclaim his Native identity and face his demons. He soon realizes that as a Native American in the modern world, there are a lot of tribulations and sacrifices to be made.

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