Montana author Roland Cheek tells to other aspiring writers, “Read! Read! Always read for enjoyment. You’ll learn by osmosis.”
Cheek also admitted, not proudly, that while he failed English when he was in high school, it was reading that saved him.
A long-time lover of stories, it was an easy gap for Cheek to bridge from voracious reader to writer. Cheek lightheartedly quipped that his saddlehorn was his writing desk.
“I began writing with a pencil stub in a pocket notebook while leading packhorses into the Bob Marshall Wilderness,” he said.
Cheek developed a career spanning seven decades as a syndicated columnist, a host of a national radio program, a blog writer and author of more than 20 fiction and nonfiction books, including notable titles such as “Echoes of Vengeance,” “Bloody Merchants War,” “Chocolate Legs,” “Learning to Talk Bear” and “Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness.” His books are in the Montana section of the Whitefish Community Library.
Last year, the Whitefish Library Association named Cheek, a rugged outdoorsman who is equally gifted with a pen as he is with wilderness survival, as the second recipient of the Spirit of Dorothy Johnson Award. Each year, this award honors the author whose roots are in Montana and whose books reflect the courage, determination, and history of Montanans. The award is named after the late Johnson who was a prize-winning American author best known for her Western fiction.
In his own words, Cheek has two things going for him, “a lifetime worth of experiences and a willingness to share them.”
At 80 years young, Cheek’s stories captivate readers with tales about sidestepping death more than once after encounters with grizzly bears, moose, falling trees, blizzards, avalanches, and sub-zero temperatures in Montana’s backcountry. His love of both Montana and his wife, Jane of 62 years, is as evident in the pages as the scenic beauty he describes.
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