Cash Valley Book Series

Local Author Sets Trilogy in Utah

Breanna Olaveson | Photo by Kevin Kiernan Sep 12, 2019
man standing by a wooden fence
Ryan K. Nelson

Ryan K. Nelson didn’t consider himself a creative person when the idea to write a book first came to him. But today, his Utah-based suspense trilogy is being nominated for book awards both locally and worldwide.

What did it take to unlock that creative potential? The prospect of impressing his wife.

“I don’t have an artistic bone in my body,” Nelson says. “But I had some interest in writing. My wife is an avid reader and works in a library. I thought I could impress her by writing a book.”

So he did. In his then-role as retail banking regional president at Zions Bank, Nelson spent a lot of time commuting from his home in South Jordan to a Zions branch in Logan, Utah. He was inspired by the landscape and history of Cache Valley, and a book plot began to take shape.

The Cash Valley Book Series

“The idea came to me over a couple months,” Nelson says. “I wanted to write something that was a little bit suspenseful. I went back in time to the 1950s and wrote about two young adults who get entangled in the midst of a bank robbery.”

“Cash Valley,” Nelson’s first novel, combines two things Nelson knows a lot about: banking and Utah. It tells the story of a fictional bank robbery that takes place in Logan.

The title is a nod to both Cache Valley and the book’s focus on the local bank. Though “Cash Valley” was originally a standalone book, the series now includes two subsequent books: “Cash Valley: To Bring One Down” and the finale, “Cash Valley: An Unsafe Place.”

Historical Fiction

The books center on a fictional criminal and his fictional bank robbery, but readers will appreciate the amount of historical context included in the series.

“The location, buildings, canyons and timeframes are all accurate,” Nelson says. “Other bank robberies that are mentioned in the book really happened. And while the actual robbery is fictional, the descriptions of the bank’s layout and the robbers’ technique for robbing it were historically feasible.”

Written in Utah, by a Utahn, for Utahns

The decision to use Utah for the setting of the book was deliberate.

“I think some people believe they have to leave Utah to experience the real world and to have adventure,” Nelson says. “But there is so much available to us right here in Utah.”

When the time came to produce audio versions of the books, Nelson wanted someone from Utah to do the reading. Utah voice actor Matyas Job Gombos narrated the books, maintaining Nelson’s goal of supporting local talent and being true to the book’s roots.

“I hope these books will help people gain a sense of Utah pride,” Nelson says. “I want people to realize we are a hip, cool place and that exciting things happen in this state.”

Awards and Reviews

The series has been nominated for a Newel K. Whitney award, indie and small publishing industry RONE awards, and other self-published book awards. The audiobooks have also been nominated for RONE awards.

But what about Nelson’s wife? Did he succeed in his goal of impressing her?

“Not really,” Nelson laughs. “But I think she’s impressed with how well it’s done. She’s read thousands of books. It’s going to take a really great author and story to really impress her. I think she was most impressed that I thought the story through, and that I did it.”

Ultimately, the banker-by-day, author-by-night says he learned that everyone has something creative to contribute, even if they don’t think they do.

“Everyone has something artistic about them,” Nelson says. “They just need to seek it out. It might be painting, drawing or even writing. I didn’t know if I’d have success with it until I gave it a try.”

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