Margaret Coel was born in Colorado in 1937. She attended Marquette University and was a historian before becoming a full-time writer. She is best known for her Wind River series featuring Jesuit priest Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. She won the Colorado Book Award for the novels Eye of the Wolf, The Spirit Woman, The Shadow Dancer, and Wife of Moon. The Spirit Woman also received the Willa Cather Award for best novel of the West. She is also the author of several non-fiction works including the award-winning Chief Left Hand. Her articles on the West have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor.