Acclaimed Romance, Mystery Author Graham Making Deadwood Debut

'Silver Bullet' Winner Faces off with Local Mystery Author for Deadwood Shootout during Oct. 4-6 Event

By South Dakota Magazine & South Dakota Humanities Council
Editor's Note: A version of this feature story will be printed in our 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books guide produced by South Dakota Magazine. Subscribe to our e-newsletter below to receive a free digital copy of the guide as soon as it is released this summer.

Not only is Heather Graham, a bestselling mystery author with 75 million books in print, visiting Deadwood for the first time this October, but she's also a "combatant" in a shootout staged by Deadwood Alive and hosted in conjunction with the South Dakota Festival of Books.

Graham will be throwing down, Wild West style, with fellow mystery author Sandra Brannan to see who's got the fastest gun in the west. Graham and Brannan, of Rapid City, have been "talking trash" about the upcoming shootout, which ensures an authentic Deadwood experience for the Florida resident.

"That Sandra Brannan, she's going down, down, down," Graham said in a tongue-in-cheek promotional video, which you can watch below (produced by the South Dakota Humanities Council).

Playing Many Roles

Like many authors who appear at the Festival of Books, Graham has made the bestseller lists of both USA Today and the New York Times. However, Graham's life took quite a few turns before she settled on writing. Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida, which led to modeling, bartending, commercials, bit parts in movies, back-up singing and dinner theater.

Her career as a prolific author didn't get off the ground until she added stay-at-home mom to that résumé — a role she took on after the birth of her third child. Heather and Dennis Graham, who were married right out of high school, eventually welcomed five children into the world.

Written in the margins of daily life, Graham's first book, "When Next We Love," came out in 1982. Her protagonist and antagonist, Leigh Tremayne and Derek Mallory, were either going to kill each other or fall for each other, in classic romance novel fashion; since then, the author's career trajectory has been nowhere near that predictable.

More than 200 Novels and Novellas

Graham has written more than 200 novels and novellas, including romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult and Christmas holiday fare, and has upwards of 75 million books in print.

Grist for Graham's creative mill is always at hand, even after what could be considered a considerable corpus for two (or more!) hardworking authors. "There's always something happening," she said in an interview with The Strand Magazine. "Something in the news, a new place, or a new experience at an old place."

She will add to her store of experiences on this trip to Deadwood, as she and Brannan will dress in period costumes for their roles in the Deadwood Alive troupe's shootout.

Graham has received numerous honors for her work, including The Silver Bullet Award from International Thriller Writers, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from Romantic Times, and the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America. That success has provided the means for giving back to the community.

Each year she hosts a Vampire Ball and Dinner Theater at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention to raise money for the Pediatric Aids Society, and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2006, she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf region.

Heather Graham’s 2019 Festival of Books Schedule

Wednesday, Oct 2

Friday, Oct 4

  • 3:30 pm - 4:15 pm
    Early Bird Mass Book Signing
    Deadwood Mountain Grand - Event Center

Saturday, Oct 5

  • 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
    Mass Book Signing
    Deadwood Mountain Grand - Event Center

More About the Festival of Books

To read more about authors who will be appearing at the 2019 Festival of Books, click below to visit the Festival of Books website, which includes information about authors, venues, events and more.