W.A. DAWSON WROTE ABOUT  teenage depression, mule skinners, how to speak Minnesotan, and a whole lot more during his 20-plus years as a newspaper journalist. Originally from Ruch (pronounced “roosh,” population 840), Oregon, he worked his way through nearby Southern Oregon University by bucking hay, flipping burgers, and covering high school sports for the Medford and Ashland newspapers.

After graduating in 1984, he worked for newspapers in Oregon, California, Alaska, Indiana, and Minnesota. With the newspaper industry in free fall, he moved with his wife Ila and daughter Sonali to Colorado, where he studied for his teacher’s license.

A lackluster adolescence fueled W.A.’s interest in teenage achievement. A high school zero who finished in the bottom half of his graduation class, he always found the other kind of teenagers — the good ones, like his wife — fascinating. She finished second in her high school class and attended an exclusive private college. He finished 640th in his class and went to the closest party school.

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