Norman Zollinger

Author, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1921 - 1999

Albert Norman Zollinger was an award winning Albuquerque novelist whom fellow author Tony Hillerman called a "Renaissance Man.". To quote Hillermann: "He was a guy that, if you quoted Shakespeare for him, he could give you the whole play, and if you mentioned a poet, he could recite two or three of his poems. He was the most intelligent man I've ever known. Norman Zollinger always had a few kind words for me: "God damn it, when are you gonna start writing again?" He was a man who knew one big thing: if you're a writer, you should write. Nothing else matters. "Unlike some of the rest of us, Norman Zollinger lived this truth. That's a hell of a good thing to be able to say of a man." Hillerman also called his long time friend a "warm-hearted man" who was interested in everybody: "Zollinger liked people and he loved helping "wannabe writers" more than anybody else".

Norman Zollinger was born in Chicago, where his father had built up a plastics business. As a young man he joined the US Air Force, and was an air force pilot in WW II, flying 51 missions as a bombardier on a B 24 in Europe. After the war Zollinger joined his father's Chicago business, and within a year he was running the company, which engineered plastic components for the telecommunications industry. He started writing his first novel in 1969, and in 1970 he decided to leave his high paying executive job and move his family to Albuquerque. He had become enamored with New Mexico while he was stationed at Roswell AFB during World War II. He decided to follow his writing dream and opened a bookstore, the "Little Professor Book Center" in Albuquerque. His first book, "Riders to Cibola" was published in 1979. Zollinger's most recent novel was "Meridian" published in 1997, and contract negotiations were under way for his latest book, "Coyote". His other works included "Corey Lane", "Passage to Quivira", "Lantrec" and "Rage in Chupadera". Two of these books, "Riders" and "Rage" won the Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award.

For seven years, he taught at the Norman Zollinger Taos School of Writing during the summer, as well as teaching a course at the University of New Mexico Honors Program that he and Hillerman had started. Zollinger also offered creative writing workshops for service veterans who were physically challenged, in conjunction with the organization "Very Special Arts New Mexico" and the Veterans Administration. He received the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement from the Western Writers of America in 1998. For him, he said, "It may not be the Pulitzer or some of those other awards, but it's the highest honor for a man in Western letters." Norman Zollinger died in Albuquerque on the 5th of March 1999.

Reference: Obituary on the Web

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