Melody Groves, Author and Historian

Melody Groves deeply loves the Southwest. As a native New Mexican, she explores ghost towns, rides horses and traipses through the desert. Recently, she won the coveted WWA Spur Award for Before Billy the Kid and a Will Rogers Gold Medallion recipient for a magazine story about Billy’s mom. Author of two Western fiction series, The Colton Brothers Saga, and Maud Overstreet novels, she has also written five nonfiction books. Melody lives in Albuquerque, with her husband, Myke Groves.

I grew up in southern New Mexico. Our house was hand-built by my parents in a pecan orchard. I spent my Thanksgiving holidays picking up nuts. My first boyfriend came courting on his horse, then later, a tractor.

My parents were amazing people. They came from tough backgrounds and, now that they’re both gone, I appreciate how strong they were. Raised as an only child, I had my parents, and the whole back seat of the car, to myself. They allowed me much freedom, yet seemed to know when to reel me in.

A teacher I had in high school was so awesome, I decided to become a teacher too. She taught shorthand and her husband was a lieutenant stationed in Vietnam during the war. My school at Subic Bay Naval Base, the closest ship repair facility to Vietnam, was 800 miles away. Occasionally, she got to see him. All nine of us girls in class thought that was terribly romantic!

Living in the Philippines formed the person I am today. Living on base in the late 1960s, I was a candy striper in the hospital one summer (before I got pneumonia) and helped GIs who’d just come from combat. I experienced things most people would never—galloping horses half a mile ahead of rampaging head hunters; a Girl Scout being attacked by monkeys the only time we were allowed to camp; sailing on the president of the Philippines’ yacht in Manila Bay; interrupting a Communist rebels’ meeting on the island of Corregidor; during a cruise on a small freighter nearly boarded by nearby pirates far south of Mindanao in the South China Sea…the list goes on.

The island of Guam is tiny, but that’s where I spent most of the first two years of my life. World War II Japanese stragglers actually walked over our Quonset hut one night, leaving muddy footprints.

A writer needs to go out personally to research and to meet the public. And there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.

If I could hug my parents once more, I’d tell them I love them and how amazing they were. How proud I am to be their daughter.

New Mexico is my home. The Southwest is a major part of me, and I’ve finally figured that out.

Rodeo is all about man vs. himself. When I come back in the next life, I’m going to be a male 18-year-old bull rider. The experiences I had riding bulls, at an age much older than 18, were undeniably intoxicating.

An Old West saloon was more than just a place to drink. It was the news hub of the area and social club for men.

Writing fiction is harder than it looks. I quickly discovered that facts have to be accurate!

A bowl of green chile….soothes the soul on a cold day.

Billy the Kid would not have become Billy the Kid if his mom had lived longer. She was a major influence on his life and she died much too young (45). In many ways, I admire Billy.

Marriage is like a walk in the park. Jurassic Park!

Playing guitar and singing in the Jammin’ Time Band…is awesome! Been playing with them 13 years.

Western Writers of America changed my life when I joined years ago and then again when I became president in 2023. I had no idea a group of writers could be so welcoming and so dynamic.

The desert is the vessel for my soul. I gush at sunrises and sunsets over the gently rolling hills. I love walking through it, wandering bush to bush, gulch to gulch. Oh, the saguaros! Yes, please.

What history has taught me is to embrace each day like it’s your last. To stand in awe of Nature. To appreciate the people I love. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

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