Born to two rural Arkansas families, Win Blevins soon moved to St. Louis, where he learned to be embarrassed about anything that was country, Southern, Cherokee, or fundamentalist—in other words, himself. Quickly, he cleaned these stains from his persona with education, and put in their place the intellectual, the sophisticated, the correct, the acceptable. Along the way he collected several degrees, including one in English from Columbia University and one in music from the University of Southern California. He married, had children, divorced. He lucked into fellowships from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. The second fellowship saved him from a doctorate and propelled him into two good jobs as a music, theatre, and movie reviewer, first for one major Los Angeles newspaper and then the other.
During this time only certain wild feelings saved his spirit—a fascination with classical music and theater and movies, love of women, a yen for travel, and a passion for climbing mountains.
A chance meeting at a party brought a miracle, his first book contract. Out went the good job and all that was respectable. In came unemployment, writing on deadline, hustling for work for book publishers, magazines (including the Smithsonian, and movie studios. Over a quarter century he discovered that life is in one way a carny act—you often miss the brass ring. They buy your screenplays but don’t produce them. They kiss you and move on. But most of the rides are a lot of fun, some publishers are great, and the whole carnival is exhilarating.
These were yeasty times, and led to eleven novels, three volumes of informal history, and a dictionary of language of the West. The books were great explorations, and made life possible emotionally and financially. About one of the books someone said Pulitzer, but someone more important said no.
At the same time he reclaimed some of his roots. He moved back into the country, the West instead of the South. He learned to honor his Indian heritage. He taught himself to use, at least in dialogue, common speech that’s incorrect. Though he drew the line at going back to church, he loves gospel music.
Now he regards himself as hugely lucky. He has an extraordinarily happy union with his wife Meredith, also a novelist. They live in a great house in magnificent red rock country. He works joyfully at writing. He enjoys their five children and four grandchildren. And he makes an effort to shed, gradually, most of the left-over dignity and propriety.
Biography provided by the author, June 2003.