Local Authors Take Center Stage 3

Featuring Karen Odden, Betty Webb, Tom Hatten, Rebecca Steward, Suzanne Young and Tom Leveen

The art of creating a book is in a realm all its own. Whether to inspire, connect with children, intrigue or tell an obscure tale, books allow an escape and let imaginations run wild. With our majestic landscape steeped in history and gorgeous weather, Arizona has inspired local authors of all genres to create stories that will have readers feeling at home even if the stories are out of this world.

Karen Odden – A Trace of Deceit

Odden moved to Scottsdale sixteen years ago and fell in love with the huge inverted bowl of blue sky and the desert. She spent hours on hiking trails, often hashing out bits of plots with friends. Her first three novels are about young women in Victorian London who stumble onto mysteries—and often they involve their families and secrets or traumas from the past.  In A TRACE OF DECEIT, Annabel Rowe, a talented painter, digs below the veneer of the London art world to discover the truth behind her brother’s brutal murder. A LADY IN THE SMOKE won the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for best e-book fiction in 2017; and this year, A DANGEROUS DUET won for best Historical Fiction.

Betty Webb – Desert Redemption

Webb is the author of the ten Scottsdale-set Lena Jones mysteries, notably; DESERT REDEMPTION and DESERT NOIR, plus the six Gunn Zoo mysteries based on her volunteer work at the Phoenix Zoo.  Her best-selling DESERT WIVES began the investigation that ended with the real-life conviction of self-styled polygamy “prophet” Warren Jeffs, now serving 25-to-life. For 20 years Betty worked as a journalist, interviewing everyone from U.S. presidents, astronauts who walked on the moon, and polygamy runaways – all of which provided the ideas for the books that Publishers Weekly called “mysteries with a social conscience.” A nationally-syndicated literary critic whose reviews ran on the New York Times wire for more than 20 years, Betty currently reviews for Mystery Scene Magazine and is working on a third mystery series set in Paris.

Tom Hatten – Dream On

Mountainside Fitness Founder Tom Hatten continues to raise money for charity through the sales of his inspirational memoir “Dream On”. With 100% of the proceeds going to Make-A-Wish-Arizona and (MDA) Muscular Dystrophy Association, Hatten’s “Dream On” quickly moved up to the #1 Best Seller in biographies of Business Professionals and #1 Best Seller in Business Biographies and History on Amazon.  The inspiring memoir chronicles the highs of starting a business to the crashing lows, including a horrific personal tragedy. Hatten’s memoir is available on Amazon, AmazonKindle and various locations of Mountainside Fitness, including 4 soon to be 5 locations in Scottsdale.

Rebecca Steward – Animals in the Clouds

Steward is a mother of two and has been married for 28 years. Animals in the Clouds is a book she wrote and illustrated 30 years ago but found it hard to publish so she went about life, raising her kids and sharing her story with the kids at the preschool she operates here in the Valley. She decided in 2019 to move forward with publishing and here she is, an author. The book is based on the fluffy beautiful clouds we see often in Arizona – when we look up, what do we see in the clouds? Steward served as a portrait artist, donating portraits for five years to the NEGU foundation in California. You can see her work on My Passion Pencil Drawings By Becky Facebook Page. Steward has four other books she is working on writing and feels she is the epidemy of ‘never give up.’

Suzanne Young – Girls with Razor Hearts

Young is the New York Times bestselling author of The Program series. Originally from Utica, New York, Suzanne moved to Arizona to pursue her dream of not freezing to death. She is a novelist and an English teacher, and is also the author of Girls with Sharp Sticks, All in Pieces, Hotel for the Lost, and several others novels for teens. As both an author and a teacher, she’s enjoyed connecting the two worlds. Her author events tend to be community events where she invites her students to participate; singing and acting out book scenes, which allows her to share their passions as well. Visit her online at AUTHORSUZANNEYOUNG.COM or follow her on Instagram @authorsuzanneyoung.

Tom Leveen – Mercy Rule

Leveen was born, raised, and has lived in Scottsdale his entire life, where he and his wife and two children reside today. In addition to his nine novels published by Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, he co-founded the Scottsdale-based nonprofit Chyro Arts Venue and Is What It Is Theatre, an indie live theatre company that operated for more than a decade in metro Phoenix. Tom’s novel Hellworld was a Bram Stoker Award finalist, and his novel Sick (based loosely on Camelback High School, from which he graduated) won both the Westchester and Grand Canyon Reader awards. His first job was delivering The Phoenix Gazette by bicycle.

***A special thank you to Poisoned Pen and Changing Hands Bookstore for their support with this story.