Clay Reynolds was born and reared in Quanah, Hardeman County, Texas, a small railroad community, and the county seat and center for commerce and agricultural enterprises, particularly cotton and wheat farming, cattle ranching and, ultimately, oil and natural gas production. He left there in 1967 to attend college and never really returned for any appreciable time.
Reynolds’ first novel, The Vigil, was given an “Oppie Award” in 1986; his third novel, Franklin’s Crossing was entered into the Pulitzer Prize competition for 1992; it also received the Violet Crown Award for fiction as well as other awards and honors; Monuments also won the Violet Crown Award for 2000. In 2012, Reynolds was awarded the prestigious Spur Award for Short Fiction for his story, “The Deacon’s Horse”; he has previously been a finalist for this award on three occasions, and he has been a finalist for the Best Western Novel Spur Award on two previous occasions, including another finalist finish for the Spur Award for Short Story at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2017. That same year, he won both the Texas Institute of Letters Bud Shrake Award for Creative Short Nonfiction and the TIL Kay Cattarulla Award for Short Fiction. He has also been runner-up for both essay and fiction prizes from The Texas Institute of Letters and PEN Texas, among other literary awards and in 2014 he was accorded an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Pushcart Prize. He has received grants from the Texas Commission for the Arts and was also a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in 1993.
A professional book critic, Reynolds’ critical evaluations and feature articles have appeared in national magazines, including Chronicles, American Way, and Texas Monthly; his short fiction has been published in Writers’ Forum, South Dakota Review, High Plains Literary Review, Callaloo, and Cimarron Review, among other publications, and was widely anthologized. He regularly contributed book reviews and feature columns to several metropolitan newspapers and national magazines; for more than ten years, he was a regular contributor to Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and wrote book reviews for The New York Times.
Reynolds held academic degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (BA), Trinity University (MA), and the University of Tulsa (PhD) and had more than forty-five years of university teaching experience. He retired as a Professor of Arts and Humanities and Creative Writing after twenty years’ service on the faculty of the University of Texas at Dallas where he served as Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing and also was Director of Creative Writing. For six years he served as the school’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. Previously, he served on the part time or visiting faculties of Western Colorado’s MFA Program, Texas Woman’s University, the University of South Dakota, West Texas A&M University Writer’s Workshop, Rice University’s Continuing Education writer’s program and also Rice’s Professional Publishing Program, and Villanova University where he was Visiting Writer-in-Residence in 1994. Prior to these appointments, he served as a professor of English and Novelist in Residence on the faculty of the University of North Texas; previously, he was a professor of English at Lamar University. He regularly conducts formal workshops and lectures on writing and the business of writing for both community writing groups and university and collegiate programs. He is a member of the Authors’ Guild, Writers’ League of Texas, The Texas Institute of Letters, and Western Writers of America.
Reynolds served as editorial consultant for a number of publishing houses and presses, and routinely judged writing competitions for presses as well as several reviews and journals.
As a freelance editor, he worked with numerous authors who went on to publish their work and garner writing awards.
His published novels include The Vigil, Agatite, Franklin’s Crossing, Players, Monuments, The Tentmaker, Ars Poetica, Threading the Needle, Vox Populi, and a collection of short fiction, Sandhill County Lines. His nonfiction books include Stage Left: The Development of the American Social Drama in the Thirties, Taking Stock: A Larry McMurtry Casebook, A Hundred Years of Heroes: A Centennial History of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, Twenty Questions: Answers for the Inquiring Writer, and The Plays of Jack London a collection of creative nonfiction, Of Snakes and Sex and Playing in the Rain, and Hero of A Hundred Fights: Collected Stories from the Dime Novel King: Ned Buntline, which appeared in 2011. Reynolds has written screenplays of Players and The Vigil and Monuments, as well as adaptations of some of his short fiction, and several of his novels remain under option to various motion picture companies.
Reynolds lives on an acre of sun-baked ground in semi-rural Lowry Crossing, Texas, with his wife Judy, a retired Medical Technologist.