Author Mike Katko Wins New Mexico Book Award

Local author Mike Katko during a visit Friday at the Los Alamos Daily Post with his New Mexico Book Association award for his novel, Big Medicine Pretty Water. Katko received the award in the Trade Book: Non-illustrated category, Aug. 23 during the association’s summer gala. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/

Los Alamos Daily Post

In 2022, Los Alamos author Mike Katko published his first novel, Big Medicine Pretty Water. Now in 2023, he can add “award winner” to the dust jacket. On Aug. 23, Katko earned the honor of being named a finalist during the New Mexico Book Association’s annual summer gala.

He won in the Trade Book: Non-illustrated category.

New Mexico Book Association draws in some heavy literary hitters including Anne Hillerman and Jimmy Santiago Baca.

“I definitely never expected to be in that group of authors and publishers,” Katko said. “I was really floored when I got the finalist award.”

Katko said his marketer Jeanie C. Williams of PenPower Book Marketing Services in Santa Fe nominated him for the award.

Big Medicine Pretty Water is set in the American Southwest during prohibition and features a Native American heroine. Katko’s own Native American great-grandmother, Brigida Tolmich, influenced this character.

Katko said through his novel, he tried to give his great-grandmother a voice as well as many other women who have faded and been lost through time.

Katko is working on the sequel to Big Medicine, Pretty Water. He explained that the plan is to make the story a trilogy.

Being a novelist is fun work, Katko said, adding that he appreciates there are no deadlines to adhere to. Still, there are challenges to getting your work known and making sales. He said he appreciates his editor, Ellen Kleiner, for guiding him through this process. He said he is always learning.

Big Medicine Pretty Water is for sale at Samzidat Bookstore and the Los Alamos Historical Society Museum. It can also be purchased on Amazon as well as at

New Mexico author Jimmy Santiago Baca, left, and local author Mike Katko promote each others’ work. Courtesy photo

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