Local author named finalist for Western book award


Las Cruces author Sandra Marshall was named a finalist in August in the original softcover fiction category of the Willa Literary Awards, presented by Women Writing the West.

Marshall won the award for her book, “Death in the Time of Pancho Villa,” which received a 2018 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers. The novel, Marshall’s first book, was published in August 2020.

Women Writing the West is comprised of writers and others who write and promote writing about the West, “with emphasis on the experiences of western women and girls,” according to

The characters in “Death in the Time of Pancho Villa” are “what people seem to like best about the book,” Marshall said.

Those characters include the real-life Pancho Villa (1878-1923) and Timothy Turner (1886-1961), a journalist and the author of “Bullets, Bottles and Gardenias,” the true story of his coverage of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20) for the Associated Press.

For the book, Marshall did a lot of research on Villa, whom she described as “very intelligent and a great strategist.” Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico (three miles north of the U.S.-Mexican border and 32 miles south of Deming) on March 9, 1916.

Marshall’s research also included possible connections between Standard Oil Company and Francisco Madero (1873-1913), who was president of Mexico for about 15 months before his assassination, and German spies in Mexico.

Marshall said “Death in the Time of Pancho Villa” is available at Moonbow’s Book Nook, 225 E. Idaho Ave., and may also be in stock at COAS Books, Barnes & Noble in Mesilla Valley Mall and Bowlin’s Mesilla Book Center. It is also available on

With John R. Versluis, she co-authored “Historic Architectural Styles, Las Cruces, N.M.: Celebrating 150 Years,” which was published in 2000.

Marshall’s husband, George Matthews, is currently writing a biography of Billy the Kid, she said.

Marshall has a master’s degree in anthropology and earned a second master’s in public history with an emphasis in architectural history from New Mexico State University.

Marshall had a long career as an archaeologist and also worked for the New Mexico Department of Transportation in Santa Fe for 12 years. She and Matthews moved to Las Cruces in 2011.

Marshall is now pursuing her lifelong interest in photography and may publish a book and/or mount a local exhibition of her photographs. She is a member of the City of Las Cruces Historic Preservation Committee and belongs to two local writers’ groups.

The Willa Literary Award is named for Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather (1873-1947).  


Sandra Marshall