Win Blevins, the award-winning author best known for his fiction and non-fiction books of western lore and Native American leaders, lifestyle, and spirituality died on July 2, 2023, at the age of 84, after suffering two strokes. He was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Western Writers of America, and a member of the Western Writers Hall of Fame.
Blevins, whose own origins were a mix of Cherokee, Welsh-Irish, and African-American, published his first novel in 1973. That book, Give Your Heart to the Hawks, a tribute to the mountain man, is still in print fifty years later and recently returned to the New York Times best-seller list. According to Amazon, the 2015 film, “The Revenant” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was based in part on Blevins’s book.
Over his long career Blevins wrote nearly forty books, among them Stone Song, a novel of the life of Crazy Horse, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Others included the historical fiction Rendezvous Series, set in the West’s most spectacular landscapes. Blevins’s wife, novelist Meredith Blevins, co-authored several of his later books. He was also the author of a dozen successful screenplays.
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 21, 1938, Blevins was an honors graduate of Columbia University, where he earned a master’s degree, and the Music Conservatory of the University of Southern California. He began his writing career as a music and drama critic for the Los Angeles Times and became the principal entertainment editor for the The Los Angeles Herald Examiner. During that time, he hung out with the likes of Sam Peckinpah and Strother Martin, and began diving into the lives of Mountain Men and Native Americans of the west.
He also served as the Gaylord Family Visiting Professor of Professional Writing at the University of Oklahoma. For fifteen years he was a book editor for Macmillan Publishing and TOR/Forge Books.
Win loved and felt a deep connection with nature. He climbed mountains on four continents and was a boatman-guide on the Snake River. Once caught in a freak blizzard while climbing, he took shelter inside a tree for more than 24 hours. His feet were frozen, but he refused to have them amputated. Almost twenty years after that event, he climbed the Himalayas, despite an awkward gait.
Native Spirituality suited him. He was pierced during a Lakota ceremony and was a pipe carrier. He went on twelve vision quests and felt the pull of the red road.
Blevins died in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is survived by his beloved wife, soulmate, and partner, Meredith Blevins. He leaves four children, Pam Blevins Hinkle, Adam Blevins, Ethan Blevins, Allegra Lynch, and eight grandchildren: Ruth, Aletha, Henry, Peter, Holly, Ben, Caleb, and Sienna. His family plans a private celebration of his life.