The story is enough.

The story is enough.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nancy Oswald, author

There wasn’t a washing machine on the ranch during the 1970s. Not even a laundromat in town.  If Nancy needed to wash clothes, she had to drive 35 miles into Canon City.  And it was at the laundromat on the corner of 9th and Highway 50 that Nancy met her future husband. 

Nancy was a rancher’s daughter when she married Steve Oswald. And after a couple years on her family’s acreage in Cotopaxi, the newlyweds followed another ranching opportunity into British Columbia.  A year or two quickly became twelve. While Steve immersed himself in ranch management, Nancy balanced her time between motherhood, teaching in one-room schoolhouses, and beginning a writing career.  “There were so many things pulling on me… I wanted to teach and write children’s books.” Bees, Bugs and Baseball Bats, published by Scholastic, Canada, was her first, recently rewritten and re-released as Insects in the Infield.

The Oswalds came back to Colorado in the early 1990s.  Steve made vital changes to the family ranch: raising and selling grass-fed beef and promoting sustainable agriculture. Nancy still managed to find time to write her witty and engaging fiction for young readers. Nothing Here But Stones, Hard Face Moon, and Rescue at Poverty Gulch, historical novels, were published during those busy years. The Biography of Edward Wynkoop is her first nonfiction book.

Rescue at Poverty Gulch is where we first meet the adventurous eleven-year old, Ruby, and her loyal side-kick, a donkey named Maude.  Readers will find more of this spunky heroine in the latest book in the series, Trouble on the Tracks.  Ruby evades danger, solves mysteries, and tries to shake a wearisome cat during the days following two terrible downtown Cripple Creek fires.  Nancy Oswald masterfully addresses a universal issue concerning children throughout history: life with a single parent.  She handles with sensitivity events that can be daunting to young readers: lynchings, train robberies, outlaws. She tells the stories of Colorado’s past in an accessible and engaging manner.

I sat with Nancy at her kitchen table, looking out at the ranch, thousands of acres nestled in the Colorado mountains.  As we talked, it occurred to me that I was not only in the presence of an award-winning author (WILLA Literary Award in 2005; two-time Spur finalist, IRA, Notable Book for a Global Society; two-time winner Evvy, Colorado Independent Publishers; and finalist for Juvenile Literature, Colorado Book Awards, 2012), but maybe I was also sitting with Ruby herself.  Our heroine is intelligent, curious, and well-spoken.  As is the writer.  When I asked how closely the precocious Ruby mirrors her creator, Nancy smiled knowingly.  She gave a little laugh and said, “Well, could be.  I’m not saying.”

Newly retired from the classroom, Nancy is writing her third “Ruby and Maude” book.  She visits local schools, is a conference presenter and guest speaker.  Her website is

The Oswalds are committed to preservation: the land and the stories, both part of its history.  Nancy, believing in connecting children with the past through literature, has written books that entertain and educate. 

From an interview with the author.  Photo from the author.


  1. I had a great time! Thanks for the interview!