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John Straley Books In Order

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Publication Order of Cecil Younger Books

The Woman Who Married a Bear (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Curious Eat Themselves (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Music of What Happens (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Angels Will Not Care (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death and the Language of Happiness (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cold Water Burning (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Baby's First Felony (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
So Far and Good (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Cold Storage Books

The Big Both Ways (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cold Storage, Alaska (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
What Is Time to a Pig? (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Blown by the Same Wind (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Rising and the Rain (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Powers of Detection(2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

John Straley is an American author and poet that writes historical and detective fiction. Straley is best known for the Cecil Younger novels.

John Straley was born in 1953 in Redwood City, California to a family of five children. Even though he eventually became an author living in Alaska, Straley’s childhood plans for his life were quite different.

The author took an interest in horseshoeing. His parents actually encouraged him to train in the field and to acquire a certificate of completion in horseshoeing. Ultimately, the author attended Grinnell College and the University of Washington from where he studied writing.

The author currently has a Bachelor’s degree in English. He has since taken an interest in a wide variety of literature, not to mention his love for jokes and music.

If John Straley was to highlight one moment that had the most drastic impact on his life, it would have to be the day he met Jan in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington State.

The author was a mule packer at the time. He spent his days lending his skills and talents to the local outfitter guide. Jan Straley was working as a seasonal backcountry ranger in the high meadows of the Pasayten Wilderness.

Summers would always sweep John in that direction. John and Jan met, forged a bond and eventually married. While John’s horseshoeing training allowed him to get by, it didn’t take him long to realize that the career held no real future for him.

So when Jan, a marine biologist, took a job in Sitka, Alaska, John happily followed her. That was in 1977. The decision paid off handsomely, not only because John and Jan could stay together, but also because new opportunities were availed for the author to pursue.

John Straley landed a job with the Alaska Public Defender’s office. The opportunity came after John had tried his hand at a number of jobs and careers in Alaska; and the fact that he was expected to fill the role of private investigator only made him that much more anxious to apply his mind to the purposes of Alaska’s Public Defense system.

John was introduced to the PI world by his parents who filled his young life and their home with detective novels. He remembers making his way through thousands of titles in the detective genre over the course of his childhood.

Finally filling the shoes of a private investigator quickly stripped the author of some of the romantic notions he held about the role. But John, none the less, thrived.

Writing came into the picture soon after. The activity was encouraged as much by John’s personal experiences in the PI field as it was by the books he read. By the time he sat down to write his first novel, John was pretty certain that the wealth of personal experiences he brought to the table would immediately set his works apart.

He was quickly proven wrong. Every publisher he approached turned him down. The eventual turn of his luck can be imputed to Richard Nelson, an anthropologist, and friend who told John Straley to give Soho Press a try.

The publisher, which was based in New York City, had a firm interest in detective fiction, and Nelson believed that they would be John’s best hope of achieving his publishing dreams.

Nelson wasn’t wrong. The manuscript John submitted to them eventually became ‘The Woman Who Married a Bear’, his first novel. This was the same novel that Bill Clinton bought from a bookstore he visited during his term.

Before long, John Straley was a successfully published author with a string of critically acclaimed detective novels under his belt, most of which revolved around the Cecil Younger character.

The author retired from his PI work in 2015, but he never forgot the field. John doesn’t really write about the cases he’s worked on over the years, even though he has had the pleasure of contending with a number of high profile clients and targets.

That being said, he does take inspiration from the things he’s seen and the people he’s met.

The author’s stories start with locations. Once he has a setting, a place within which to set his tale, the characters begin to take shape. He keeps a journal in which he jots all the ideas that strike him.

This is on top of the folders of articles, notes and literary documents he maintains and uses to research some of his more complicated stories. John tries to write regularly, especially when he has a first draft to complete.

He doesn’t wait to feel inspired. The author has a certain number of words that he tries to write every single day, and he never falters. It is only after he reaches the revision stage that John takes a breath and slows his pace.

But even then, the author will sink several hours of each day into the revision process.

+Cold Storage, Alaska
Clive McCahon is a criminal, or at least he was. He was convicted for dealing coke. But now his seven-year prison stint is over and he’s back home. Clive wants to forget the past and to pour his efforts into helping Miles, the younger sibling who diligently cared for their ailing mother while Clive was away causing trouble.

Clive’s intentions were good. But now he knows that he should have never come back. It isn’t just the state trooper looking to bust him for dealing again that has Clive wound up.

There’s also the old business partner who might be out for vengeance. Cold Storage, Alaska is about to get a whole lot more dangerous for Clive.

+The Woman Who Married a Bear
The people of Sitka, Alaska love their lives. The available work is hard but it is also honest. And once the day ends, the bars immediately fill up. People can get rowdy. But murder isn’t common.

So when an ex-miner kills an Indian guide because voices from below told him to, people take notice.

But even though the case seems closed, the victim’s mother refuses to let it go. She calls upon Cecil Younger to look into the matter and to unravel the primal conspiracy at the center of their little community.

Book Series In Order » Authors » John Straley

4 Responses to “John Straley”

  1. Deborah Lippitt: 9 months ago

    I really enjoy these books. I come away from them remembering all the descriptions of the locale but have to think to recall the mystery..which is fine with me! Getting to know Alaska reading! Beautifully written scenes!

  2. Tony Dietz: 2 years ago

    Well written bio. Thanks!

  3. Elmer Beckstein: 3 years ago

    Have always wanted to spend sometime in Alaska. I have passed through Elmendorf AFB and Anchorage a couple times waiting for air flights, never enough time to see the area. Have it on my bucket list to do. Maybe I’ll buy one of John Straley’s books. Any recommendations?

  4. Judith Fredrich: 3 years ago

    Lived in Alaska for 23 years, mostly in Ketchikan. Spent time allover S.E. Alaska. Worked on A.M.H.S. ships. Sitka, my favorite town. Every time I read one of Straley’s books, I know where I am within the first chapter.


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