• Renée Thompson

    Writing the American West

  • Books

    The Plume Hunter, Renee Thompson, historical fiction, plume hunting, millinery

    The Plume Hunter

    from Torrey House Press

    A moving story of conflict, friendship, and love, The Plume Hunter follows the life of Fin McFaddin, a late-nineteenth century Oregon outdoorsman who takes to plume hunting—killing birds to collect feathers for women’s hats—to support his widowed mother. The novel brings to life an era of our country’s natural history seldom explored in fiction, and follows Fin’s relationships with his lifelong friends as they struggle to adapt to society’s changing mores.

    The Bridge at Valentine, Renee Thompson, historical fiction, Idaho, grazing rights, Romeo and Juliet retelling

    The Bridge at Valentine

    from Tres Picos Press

    In this remarkable retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, The Bridge at Valentine presents a realistic and poignant portrayal of life in 1890’s Idaho. July Caldwell, the daughter of a sheepman, and Rory Morrow, the son of a cattleman, find themselves embroiled in their fathers’ bitter feud to control the rangeland. The battle over grazing rights pits family against family, resulting in a tragedy from which July and Rory struggle to recover. But with tragedy comes triumph and hope for the future—and ultimately, a young woman’s determination to strike out on her own.

  • Essays

  • “…fresh, innovative, courageous, and compelling…Renée Thompson’s work brings heartbeat

    to the page.”

    — Krista Minard, Editorial Director, Sacramento Magazine

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    • The Bright Unknown, The Missouri Review, Perkoff Prize, Finalist, 2023
    • Can I Get an Amen?, Twenty Twenty: 43 Stories from a Year Like No Other (Essay Anthology—edited by Dorothy Rice), 2021
    • Into the After, Narrative, Fall Story Contest, Finalist/Story of the Week, 2019
    • Summertime Muse, Sacramento Magazine
    • Pelican’s Island, Nevada Magazine
    • Bawdy Bird Watcher, Nevada Magazine
    • Tagging Canvasbacks, Bird Watcher’s Digest
    • Woman’s World
    • American Baby



  • Stories

  • “...profoundly resonant and deeply satisfying.”

    — Chad Peterson, Managing Editor, 10,000 Tons of Black Ink

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    • The Blue Hairs, Emerald City, Spring 2024
    • The Spectacular, Narrative, Fall Story Contest, Winner, 2023
    • The Spectaculars, The Missouri Review’s Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize, Finalist, 2023
    • The Winterist, Narrative, Fall Story Contest, Second Place, 2018
    • Shackled, Literary Death Match Bookmark Contest, Second Runner Up (judged by Roxane Gay), Winter 2017
    • Brilliance, Cactus Heart, Issue 12.5, Summer 2015
    • Recovery, Manifest West #4, Western Press Books, Summer 2015
    • The Volunteer, Crossborder, Fall 2014
    • The Language of Farewell, Chiron Review, Fall 2014
    • Radio Gal, Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine, Spring 2014
    • Radio Gal, Narrative, Fall Story Contest, Finalist, 2012
    • The Limits of Certainty, Literal Latte Fiction Award, 2nd Place, 2012
    • The Limits of Certainty, Glimmer Train, Fiction Open, Finalist, 2012
    • Twelve Pencils, 10,000 Tons of Black Ink, “Best Of” (Volume II, 2012), Literary Writers Network
    • Twelve Pencils, 10,000 Tons of Black Ink, 2012
    • Fences, Arcadia, 2011
    • Farallon, Narrative Magazine, Story of the Week, 2010
    • Old Will Road, Narrative Magazine, Story of the Week, 2009
    • Little House on the Perry, Writer’s Digest, Annual Writing Competition, Literary/Mainstream Fiction, Second Place
    • Lip Balm, Glimmer Train, Fiction Open, Finalist
    • Muddy Lagoon, Writer’s Digest, Annual Writing Competition, Literary/Mainstream Fiction, Top 10
    • Liberty Tree, American Western Magazine



  • Reviews

  • “…a splendid, strong narrative voice.”

    — Robert Olen Butler

    Praise for The Plume Hunter

    “…a literary drama sparked by expert dialogue and visualized through an acute sense of place.” – Allen Pierleoni, The Sacramento Bee

    “…Renée Thompson’s gripping novel transports the reader to a time when our nation was trying its best to grow up, yet seemed mired in its own awkward 'teen' years…I read this book in one sitting, finding it no easier to put down than Fin did his hunting guns.”

    — Bill Thompson, III, Editor, Bird Watcher’s Digest

    “No better attempt at explaining the passion and dedication of Ducks Unlimited volunteers and members could be given than this deep and abiding connection with the natural world.”

    —Dale Hall, CEO, Ducks Unlimited

    “…a compelling chronicle of avarice, betrayal, and redemption.”
    – Tim Gallagher, The Grail Bird 

    “I really enjoyed this book. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of a bird hunter and the complex social, economic and personal issues swirling around the birth of the conservation movement.”

    — David Sibley, The Sibley Guide to Birds


    Praise for The Bridge at Valentine

    Selected as the WOODLAND READS 2014 Community Novel


    “…very original and very appealing. Renée Thompson has an angle of attack that is all her own.”

    —Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove

    “…an imaginative, fiercely moving new debut.”

    —Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World and Pictures of You

    “…an immensely satisfying and well-crafted book.”

    —Adrienne Crezo, The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog

    “With Lonesome Dove and Legends of the Fall as bookends, The Bridge at Valentine takes a reader quickly into a woman’s perspective of the American West, a place I wanted to stay until the very last page. Renée Thompson gives us singular images, creates vivid and authentic characters, and defines a way of life when women seeking their own way required sacrifice and a churning of the soul. A fine, fine story well told.”

    —Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of The Memory Weaver

  • Appearances

  • Readings, signings and related events

    Coming soon!


    About Renée

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    Renée Thompson writes about her love of birds, wildlife, and the people who inhabit the American West. Her second novel, The Plume Hunter, received outstanding endorsements from David Sibley, Bill Thompson, III, and Tim Gallagher. Her first novel, The Bridge at Valentine, received high praise from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry, and was selected as the Woodland Reads 2014 Community Novel. She lives in Folsom, CA.

  • Contact Renée

    Curious about falconry, or the plume-hunting trade in the late 1890s?

    Renée is happy to meet with your book club to talk about her novels, stories, and upcoming work.