Martin J. Smith is the American author of crime novels and nonfiction books. His fiction has been short-listed for three of the publishing industry’s most prestigious honors, including the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, and the Barry Award. He is also a journalist and magazine editor, the winner of more than fifty newspaper and magazine writing awards.
Martin J. Smith was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in Pittsburgh. Smith began writing professionally while a student at Pennsylvania State University in the late 1970s.
His 15-year career as a newspaper reporter took him around the world, as he says himself, "from the rural poverty of Southwestern Pennsylvania to Nevada’s Mustang Ranch Bordello; from the riot-torn streets of Los Angeles to the revolutionary streets of Manila; from pre-glasnost Siberia to the then-new frontier of cyberspace."
Martin J. Smith debuted with the novel Time Release in 1997. It featured memory expert Jim Christensen and examined the volatile issue of repressed memories against the backdrop of a sensational product-tampering case. Time Release was his first Anthony Award-nominated book.
In Shadow Image (1998), a sequel inspired both by the plight of former President Ronald Reagan and the JonBenet Ramsey murder case in Colorado, Christensen is drawn into the labyrinth of Alzheimer’s disease and a complex web of lies created by one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest and most powerful political families.
Straw Men (2001) became a finalist for the 2002 Edgar Award and the 2002 Barry Award. The story begins when DNA evidence frees an unpredictable and disfigured young man known as the Scarecrow eight years after he was convicted of a vicious sexual attack.
The Memory Series got new life in 2013 when Diversion Books published those three novels for the first time in digital form, followed later by the digital release of The Disappeared Girl.
In that previously unpublished series novel, a mysterious, long-ago military plane crash plunges Christensen and his adopted daughter into a high-stakes search for the truth about her past that leads to a deep well of dark family secrets, and into the crosshairs of an international fugitive who’ll do anything to make sure those secrets stay buried.
Smith also is the co-author, with Patrick J. Kiger, of Oops: 20 Life Lessons From the Fiascoes That Shaped America (2006).
Smith was editor-in-chief of Orange Coast magazine in Orange County between 2007 and 2016. During this time, the Western Publishing Association five times named Orange Coast the best city magazine in the Western U.S., including four consecutive wins between 2013 and 2016.
As an editor, Smith worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and bestselling authors such as Anne Lamott, Joseph Wambaugh, Walter Mosley, Amy Tan, Martin Dugard, Janet Fitch, Edward Humes, and James Ellroy.
In March 2019, a collection of those essays made Smith a finalist for the association’s Herb Lipson Award for Column Excellence. His essays also frequently appear in Adventure Journal.
In addition to his five novels, Smith has written five nonfiction books, including Going to Trinidad: A Doctor, a Colorado Town, and Stories from an Unlikely Gender Crossroads (2021). It was one of three History category finalists for a 2022 Colorado Book Award.
The book explores the experiences of transgender individuals in the small town of Trinidad, Colorado, as well as the experiences of Dr. Marci Bowers, a gender confirmation surgeon who moved and established a practice there.
For six years, Smith taught an undergraduate workshop course Writing the Novel at Chapman University in Orange, California.
Martin J. Smith is living now in rural Grand County, Colorado. He recently edited two history books for the Grand County Historical Association.
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