Coming Attractions

A trip to Zapata via Morrison

Recommended activities for the coming weeks


Morison-based author Harper McDavid’s debut novel “Zapata,” has been announced as the winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award in the romance category, and received a 2020 Writer’s Award from the Colorado Authors League. Both awards were held virtually, which allowed authors to be honored for their works, despite the pandemic.

“Zapata” is a blend of suspense and romance that takes place along the Texas/Mexico border that follows engineer Avery McAndrews as she accepts a job in Zapata, and has a range that includes drug cartels and an examination of the challenges women in STEM fields face in the professional world.

We spoke with McDavid about the book, her awards and more.

(Interview edited for brevity and clarity).

Tell me about “Zapata”?

The beginning of the book is based exactly on what I had to do when I was in Zapata. I do environmental work with oil companies, and when I got to the site, we discovered there was a problem - crude oil was disappearing, and we couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, we found out someone who had worked there previously had been murdered and the cartel had been dipping into the oil. I just went with it, even though it was really different than the book I was working on.

I didn’t start out intending to write a romance - it was more like writing a suspense novel with romance elements. I started working on in 2017, and eventually joined the Romance Writers of America and entered one of their contests. I made it to the finals, and one of the judges offered me a contract.

You received two awards for your debut novel - what was that experience like?

The Colorado Book Award is something I’ve followed for years, so I always knew about it, and I entered “Zapata’ in the romance category. It was different this year because of the pandemic, and we did online readings instead of in-person ones, and the award ceremony was kind of like Hollywood Squares on Zoom. It would’ve been more festive to do the readings at the BookBar like normal, but I’m not complaining, because I’m very happy to have won that award.

The Colorado Author’s League award was the same way. It’s all very surreal. It’s just started to sink in, and it’s very humbling.

What’s your favorite part about the Denver literary scene?

Denver and Colorado have the best writing communities. There are groups like the Lighthouse Writers Workshop and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers which provide support that is just great. I have a fabulous critique group that really made a difference for me. Colorado is full of readers and writers.

Visit for more information and find the book at your local bookstore.


‘Amplify’ voices of Black artists at the Arvada Center

In an effort to share the creative voices of Black men through music, performance, dance and spoken word, the Arvada Center has launched a new video series called “Amplify.”

Produced by actor and director Betty Hart, the series features the voices of 15 performers from across the state - only three of whom have performed at the center before. Participants in the series come from all over the local theater world and were invited to express whatever they want through any avenue they’d prefer, according to provided information.

The first episode is available on the Arvada Center’s YouTube page.


Clarke’s Concert of the Week - Lianne La Havas from the Roundhouse

Britain’s Lianne La Havas has one of the smoothest, most alluringly dynamic voices in modern R&B. In addition to the soul sounds she excels at, she also expertly taps into folk music, perfectly blending the two genres together. It’s been five years since her last album, but she preparing to release her third, “Lianne La Havas,” on Friday, July 17.

La Havas will be live-streaming a solo show in London’s legendary Roundhouse performing arts space at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15 on YouTube. All proceeds will go to Black Lives Matter-related organizations.

Visit for information and to get a spot.


Streaming style - ‘Pose’

With the recent and necessary attention focused on the violence and discrimination trans women of color face in their daily lives, it’s also important to amplify their powerful and joyful stories, and few do that better than FX’s Pose.”

The second season of the show was recently added to Netflix, and it might even be better than the first. The series focuses on the Black and Latino trans, gay and gender-nonconforming ballroom scene of New York City in the 1980s and 90s.

In a single episode, “Pose” can shatter and dazzle you with the creative power of the human spirit. It really is that good. If you haven’t started it yet, now is your chance - it's on Netflix.

Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at


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