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Connie Willis

Sci-Fi Hall-of-Famer

“People are really engaged here.”

Where does an award-winning science fiction author turn for inspiration? “All the material that you need to become a writer,” says Connie Willis, “can be found in a small town—look at Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and St. Mary Mead—or a church choir: kindness, competitiveness, jealousy, hatred, love, everything.”

Willis, who’s won an unprecedented seven Nebula and 11 Hugo Awards, admits to a love affair with Greeley. “Writers can live pretty much anywhere,” she says. “And a lot of them feel like they’ve got to be in an urban center. But when you live in a place like Greeley, you get a different perspective. Trust me: there’s nothing more alien or strange than living in a small town. And nothing more terrific.”

Writing daily at the Starbucks near the University of Northern Colorado campus, Willis finds the regular interaction with farmers and ranchers, realtors, college students, Somali refugees, and Rotary Club members enriching. “People are really engaged here,” she says. “You’ll run into someone who’s part of the local Chautauqua, who’s also working with a church group to put on a cantata, who’s also a friend of the library.” Big enough to be a city yet small enough to be connected, Willis adds, Greeley is “just right.”