Kathleen Cunningham Guler was awarded the Colorado Book Award in the historical fiction category Friday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Kathleen Cunningham Guler was awarded the Colorado Book Award in the historical fiction category Friday.

Steamboat author wins book award

Kathleen Cunningham Guler recognized for her work, ‘A Land Beyond Ravens’

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To learn more about Kathleen Cunningham Guler and her novels, visit http://kathleenguler.com.

— Steamboat Springs Writer’s Group member Harriet Frei­­berger said Kathleen Cun­ning­ham Guler’s meticulous research contributes to her success as an author.

The scenery depicted in Cun­ningham Guler’s historical spy thriller, set in fifth-century Britain, is real, Freiberger said. She said Cunningham Guler’s main characters — the hero, Marcus ap Iorwerth, and heroine, Claerwen — are depicted realistically.

Freiberger said the characters’ lives, in turn, become real.

“That’s one of the reasons her fiction is good,” Freiberger said. “It does take you into a realistic scene. It’s not fantasy at all.”

On Friday, Colorado Hu­­manities awarded Cunning­ham Guler the Colorado Book Award in the historical fiction category for her novel “A Land Beyond Ravens.” The novel also was a finalist in the 2009 National Best Books Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.

“A Land Beyond Ravens” is the fourth in her Macsen’s Treasure Series. Cunningham Guler said spy Marcus finds himself in the middle of a political struggle between two kings and in the process sets off a search for the Holy Grail.

Cunningham Guler said her interest in her Welsh and Scottish ancestry, which she’s learned about though research, is the inspiration for her novels that explore the legend of King Arthur and Celtic themes.

“It’s a puzzle,” she said. “There’s so little information about it. Doing the research was always fascinating to me.”

Cunningham Guler said she started journaling as a teenager and didn’t get serious about her writing until the 1980s. She joined the Steamboat Springs Writer’s Group in 1998, about the time her first book was published. Cunningham Guler and her husband, Peter, had moved to town eight years earlier from San Mateo, Calif., after they bought the Western Lodge and Condominiums.

She credits the Steamboat Writer’s Group — a “very diverse, very talented group” — with helping her become a better writer. Cunningham Guler said she enjoys the wordplay and creating characters, which can lead to story.

“Sometimes it’s very hard to find the story,” she said. “Sometimes the characters will find the story for you.”

In addition to her research, Susan de Wardt, group leader for the Steamboat Writer’s Group, said Cunningham Guler’s strength as a writer is her ability to create the type of tension that keeps readers turning pages, which is true for “A Land Beyond Ravens.”

“It’s a good balance between action and character development,” de Wardt said. “It’s everything you want in a good book.”

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