Martin J. Smith, a local mystery writer to give talk in Grand Lake |

Martin J. Smith, a local mystery writer to give talk in Grand Lake

Martin J. Smith's fourth book, Combustion.
Courtesy Photo |

Martin J. Smith, a mystery writer will be giving a book talk from 2 to 3 p.m on Saturday, October 15 at the Juniper Library in Grand Lake.

I sat down with Smith to talk about his writing, why he moved to Granby from Southern California and to talk about living in a small town with literary connections.

Smith has a book of essays coming out in May, which feature stories from his 40-year journalist career.

The book was originally created to give to his children to show the stories he was proud of creating.

“I worked at the Orange County Register, hired to write long feature stories and profiles,” he said.

“It was the best job and the good chunk of the writing still resonates today, the Condor recovery program, SeaWorld when the animals were killing their trainers even back then.”

After a busy spring writing and getting this book of essays together, Smith took this summer off from writing. However, he is now back on track with his novel he started in the spring.


His sister Lisa Wren built a house in Ouray Ranch from in 1995-98. She lived in the house alone after divorce, he said. Escaping Phoenix, Wren created a life in Granby and made many friends.

“My wife and I invested in the house so she would stay there and we knew we would move here eventually.”

Wren was diagnosed with cancer in May 2015 and she died September 13, 2015.

My wife and the universe were telling us we should live here.

Smith and his wife moved to Granby and are making it their full-time residence.

“I love knowing the name of my postmaster and I was starved for that, opposed to Southern California,” he said.

Smith fits in well in Grand County playing occasional recreation soccer pick up games for “old men” and is an avid fisherman and cyclist.

Smith entered the Never Summer Adventure Race in August with a team of “older” racers. They competed in the six-hour race. “I recruited my sisters oldest son who is 50 and my sister’s husband who is 56,” he said.

“We were the Lisa Wren racers; the oldest team.”

Writing and exercise have been a part of his life for many decades.

“When I went off to be a novelist, I worked at home for two years. I would write all morning and go out for a run, and I’d be thinking about what I was writing during the run and the problem I was trying to solve is solved.”


Smith came to Granby during the Marv Heemeyer incident in Granby and covered it for the LA Times Magazine. He became friends with Patrick Brower, then publisher/editor of the Sky-Hi News.

Smith is also friends with former Denver Post reporter, Mark Obmascik, who wrote best-selling books such as A Big Year. Obmascik wrote a blurb for his 2012 book, Wild Duck Chase, Inside the Strange and Wonderful World of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, said Smith.

Obasmik and Smith bike and fish together in Grand County.

About Combustion

Smith started writing Combustion in 2005.

“I wanted to write about something big and powerful, and how it threatened to destroy everyone. A woman gets over her head with an online relationship. You don’t know who you are dealing with. I wanted to play with the idea of how an online flirtation gets out of control and a man is dead.”

This is his first stand-alone novel. The first four books were a series.

Book Reading

Smith will be discussing two topics at his book reading in Grand Lake. First, he will talk about his book, Combustion that came out on September 27. Second, he will talk about how his book Wild Duck Chase, Inside the Strange and Wonderful World of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, was made into a documentary. He will show a clip of the movie and discuss how he came to write these two books.

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