Max McCoy is an award-winning winning author and journalist.

He won the Spur Award in 2011 from the Western Writers of America for Damnation Road, the third book in the Hellfire western noir trilogy. Set in Oklahoma Territory at the turn of the last century, the book concludes the story of irascible outlaw Jacob Gamble, who is now nearing fifty and confronted by a new west of telephones, smokeless powder, and moving pictures.

Damnation Road, which was named the best mass market original novel by the WWA, was published in September 2010 by Kensington, New York. The first book in trilogy, Hellfire Canyon, which introduced Jacob Gamble at age 13 and is set largely during the Civil War, also won a Spur and was named a 2008 Kansas Notable Book by the state library.

The middle book in the triology, Canyon Diablo, was also published in 2010 by Kensington.

McCoy is an associate professor of journalism at Emporia (Kan.) State University and the director of the Tallgrass Writing Workshop, which is held every June on the ESU campus. He attended the second annual Tallgrass workshop, in 1987, and met local author Don Coldsmith and Greg Tobin, then an editor with Doubleday. Tobin later signed McCoy as a Doubleday author. McCoy’s first novel, The Sixth Rider, inspired by the 1892 Dalton raid on Coffeyville, won the 1992 Medicine Pipe/Spur Award for best first novel from WWA.

The 2011 Spurs were presented at WWA's annual convention at Bismarck, N.D. Other winners that year included True Grit, a film by Joel and Ethan Coen, for best drama, and The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers, for best historical nonfiction.

The Spur Awards, given annually for distinguished writing about the American West, are among the oldest and most prestigious in American literature. Winners of Spur Awards in previous years include Larry McMurtry for Lonesome Dove, Michael Blake for Dances With Wolves, Glendon Swarthout for The Shootist, and Tony Hillerman for Skinwalker.

McCoy has published nineteen novels, including four original Indiana Jones adventures published by Bantam and licensed by Lucasfilm; the novelization of Steven Spielberg’s epic miniseries Into the West; and the critically-acclaimed cave diving thriller, The Moon Pool, published in 2004 by Dorchester. USA Today described his writing as “powerful.” Publishers Weeklycalled The Moon Pool, an “intelligent thriller… tightly drawn characters, a vile villain and a satisfying, thought-provoking conclusion make this a compelling read.”

McCoy grew up in Baxter Springs and most of his books are set in Kansas or Missouri. He began his career in journalism at the Pittsburg Morning Sun and writing for pulp magazines such as True Detective and Front-Page Detective. Most recently, he was the investigative writer for The Joplin (Mo) Globe. He has won first-place awards in investigative reporting for his longform narratives on serial killers and hate groups. He has also written for The Wilson Quarterly, American Photographer, True West, and Fortean Times.



Of Grave Concern

It’s the spring of 1877 and Ophelia Wylde is a woman on the run. Driven from Chicago for having almost conned a noted industrialist out of a few thousand dollars through a series of spectacular but fake séances, she takes the first train west and finds herself in Dodge City. The rough-hewn cattle town has never seen anyone like Ophelia, a diminutive red-haired spiritualist with a Southern twang who travels with a pet raven and claims to talk to the dead. But when Ophelia’s confronted with the real ghost of a murdered girl , she discovers her talents are greater than she ever pretended -- and teams up with Dodge City’s most notorious bounty hunter to track down the killer.

Of Grave Concern is the first Ophelia Wylde paranomral mystery. Coming in 2013 from Kensington Books.


Max is the author of four original Indiana Jones novels, licensed by Lucasfilm and published by Bantam. They have sold in the hundreds of thousands and have been praised by fans for matching the style and tone of the movies, while adding original touches and flourishes that Max's readers have come to love.The novels have become part of the Indiana Jones canon and begin with Indiana Jones. All are prequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Damnation Road

Winner of the Spur Award for Best Novel from the Western Writers of America

It's the last chance for Jacob Gamble, Rough Rider, outlaw, and man of few principles. Nearing 50 and flat broke, Jacob bends his own rule about robbing trains. But by the time he reaches the payroll safe on a Rock Island train, he finds another thief there first with a bullet in his head. Jacob is caught holding the bag--and turned into a hero. A broke hero.

Shackled by unwanted fame, running from a life gone wrong, and raising the suspicions of a Pinkerton detective, Jacob listens to a woman: beautiful and tattooed by the Indians who seized her as a child. Anise Weathers knows of a treasure hidden in a cave along the Jornada del Muerto--a merciless hundred mile stretch of hell on earth guarded by Apache warriors. Now, Jacob will follow Anise into the most savage and deadly territory in the southwest—where few ever leave Damnation Road alive.

Other titles in Hellfire trilology include Hellfire Canyon and Canyon Diablo.