A Skyway resident has been named a finalist in what is regarded as the state’s most coveted book award competition.

Darby Karchut has been selected as a finalist for her book, “Del Toro Moon,” and is now eligible to receive the 2019 Colorado Book Award. The author of middle-grade and young adult books, Karchut earned a 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Silver Award for the novel.

Other finalists include Melanie Crowder for “The Lighthouse Between the Worlds,” and Jeff Seymour for “Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue.” Karchut will meet with the public and read excerpts from her book at 11 a.m. Sunday during a free reading series at BookBar, 4280 Tennyson St. in Denver.

Winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m. May 18 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, Colo. Outskirts Press, a longtime sponsor of the Colorado Center for the Book, will be present to help recognize outstanding contributions by Colorado authors, editors and illustrators in 13 categories.

Program Coordinator Bess Maher said, “We’re honored to celebrate Colorado authors, editors and illustrators. We hope the list of 2019 Colorado Book Award finalists is a call to action to Colorado readers.”

Karchut is still absorbing the news of her selection as a CBA finalist, she said. “I told my publisher the CBA probably is the most rigorous of all state awards. Colorado is one of the top five states for authors, and when I learned I had been selected as a finalist, I didn’t touch the ground for days,” Karchut beamed.

Laura Resau, author of “The Lightning Queen,” described “Del Toro Moon” as “a wildly original, pulse-pounding tale of a boy carrying on his family’s legacy of protecting their rural community from bloodthirsty, supernatural skinners. Medieval Spanish myth meets the Hispanic culture of rugged southern Colorado to create a captivating story of modern-day knights.”

“It’s a story about a family who is there for each other even when they push each other’s buttons,” Karchut laughed.

Surprisingly, writing wasn’t always on Karchut’s professional radar. Following graduation from Sandia High School, the Albuquerque, N.M. born-and-raised Karchut went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of New Mexico. Because she was unable to find work in her chosen field, Karchut decided to visit friends in Colorado Springs.

It was during this period that Karchut’s life changed direction. She met her future husband, Wes, earned a master’s degree in education from Colorado College and for a time taught seventh-grade social studies at Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School.

After a time, Karchut learned that many student-read books contained passages that portrayed fathers as “losers.” That’s when Karchut, then 50, donned the author’s cap and, through her own work, sought to change that perception. It took Karchut more than 100 tries before her first book, “Griffin Rising,” got accepted, earning a 2012 Gold Medal in Children’s Literacy Classics.

Karchut authored 12 more books, each focusing on a father figure character. “Del Toro Moon” is Karchut’s personal favorite, she said. “If I can’t contribute to this change in my own life, I sure can do it in my books,” Karchut said.

Her other award-winning novels include “Griffin’s Fire,” which secured a 2012 Reader’s Favorite Bronze Award in Young Adult books. “Finn Finnegan” walked away with a 2013 International Readers’ Favorite Honor Award and 2014 International Reader’s Favorite Bronze Medal.

Karchut also received a 2013 Eifle Award for Excellence in Financial Literacy Education. Her other works include “The Adventures of Finn MacCullen” series. The next installment in her “Del Toro Moon” series, “Red Casket,” is scheduled for release this fall.

The author described herself as a dreamer and compulsive dawn-greeter who jogs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms in the Rocky Mountain foothills. “I like the juxtaposition of Colorado Springs’ vibrant downtown night life against its quiet, open spaces. Of course, you can see the mountains everywhere, which is nice,” Karchut said.

Karchut loves the publishing business because of the teamwork required to get a book into the public eye. “When I was growing up I always read a book’s acknowledgments and asked, ‘Who are these people?’ Now I know. It takes, on average, about 11 people to put out a book. It’s quite a team,” Karchut said.

Published by Owl Hollow Press, “Del Toro Moon” is 256 pages and can be purchased through Amazon for $12.99 on paperback or $3.99 for the Kindle.

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