Maria Kelson

Maria Kelson wrote and published poetry for years as Maria Melendez, with two collections from University of Arizona Press recognized as finalists for the Pen Center USA Literary award and Colorado Book Award. Driven by an urge to write more for an audience and less for herself, she started working on the crime novel you have in your hands, which won Sisters in Crime’s Eleanor Taylor Bland award for Crime Fiction Writers of Color while a work in progress. An alumna of 5th grade outdoor education at Redwood Glen, she grew up in northern California on the Trixie side of the Belden/Drew divide and earned English degrees at Colorado State University and University of California, Davis. She has given readings and workshops at campuses and literary festivals around the country and was selected to serve as an American Voices arts envoy in Bogotá, Colombia. Her parents’ families originate in Mexico and England, and the odds that you’re her cousin are very high. Maria writes The Unrealities newsletter about crime fiction and speculative stories. Connect and sign up at

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