By Sharon Almirall

Gay introduces speakers.

“My book began with a voice in my head.” (E. J. Levy)

“I was a lifelong strong locker for secrets.” (Erika Krouse)

“Unresolved generational issues are often story triggers.” (Steven Schwartz)

Three published award-winning Colorado authors presented an engaging program at the annual Authors’ Event at the home of Gay Porter DeNileon on Saturday, November 5.

Erika Krouse, latest book, “Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation,” was recently featured on Colorado Public Radio’s Turn the Page series. E.J. Levy taught in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University for ten years, before resigning this June to write full time.  Steven Schwartz is a Professor Emeritus of English at Colorado State University, where he taught in the MFA Creative Writing Program.

Defining what drives their calling to write and the ideas they pursue, the three each talked about a specific book of their creation.

Krouse’s novel “Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation” is part memoir and part literary true crime.

Krouse described a chance encounter at a bookstore that resulted in her being offered a job as a private investigator. In speaking to CPW members and guests, Krouse laced her talk with humor, a gift she used in interviewing football players as she investigated the culture of rape on a university campus.

As the investigation expanded into a national scandal and  civil rights case, Krouse’s life became more complicated causing her to continue working on the case while dealing with her personal issues.

“[A] beautifully written, disturbing and affecting memoir. This is literary nonfiction at a high level…The book swirls around major sexual issues of our day — consent, college rape culture, institutional accountability — without ever feeling preachy or didactic…I found myself gasping at…the pain heightened by tenderness.” —The New York Times Book Review, Patrick Hoffman

E.J. Levy’s debut novel, “The Cape Doctor,” was inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, a notable nineteenth-century army surgeon who was born Margaret Anne Bulkley but took on a male persona in 1809 to obtain an education and practice medicine, 40 years before Elizabeth Blackwell would receive her medical degree in 1849.

As the voice in Levy’s head prompted her about this story, she wandered around Cape Town taking notes and moving back and forth between research and writing. She began composing the historical fiction novel in 2012.

A “gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking” historical novel, The Cape Doctor is the story of one man’s journey from penniless Irish girl to one of most celebrated and accomplished figures of his time. –

Steven Schwartz discussed writing motives saying, “You have to let go of what you thought the story was. What is driving you – even if it’s unconscious.”

He planned to become a therapist as a career path.  After taking a creative writing course, he changed directions.

Schwartz’ most recent book, “The Tenderest of Strings” is the story of a couple that move from Chicago to Colorado to begin anew. The father in the story buys the local newspaper while other family members struggle with personal issues.

“The characters in The Tenderest of Strings” are as vivid and real as people we know in life…and just as captivating and mysterious.” –Ann Packer, author of “The Dive from Clausen’s Pier”

Schwartz’ fiction has received the Nelson Algren Award, the Sherwood Anderson Prize, the Cohen Award, the Colorado Book Award for the Novel, two O. Henry Prize Story Awards, The Foreword Review Gold Medal for Short Stories, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell and Bread Loaf.

Photos by Ann Lockhart