John Dunning was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1942. He grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where he earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Despite his lack of formal education, he was an avid writer from a young age. Dunning’s early literary influences included the Edward Stratemeyer Syndicate’s Hardy Boys, Rover Boys, and Tom Swift series. He was even more influenced by Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. However, Dunning found it difficult to find an audience for his writing as he lacked the proper credentials. He entered the U.S. Army but was quickly discharged because of a broken eardrum. Subsequently, he worked as a glass cutter in Charleston and then in Denver. His interest in horses drew him to a local track, where he was hired as a groomer. Five years as a groomer, sleeping in tack rooms and traveling the western United States opened Dunning’s eyes to a simpler life and an easy camaraderie among horse trainers, jockeys, and his fellow groomers. Dunning still wanted to earn a living by writing, so he made repeated requests for work at the Denver Post.
Dunning began as a copy boy at the Denver Post and slowly rose to copy boy/reporter, writing book reviews and covering the police beat. After years of persisting, he was appointed a member of the newspaper’s three-man investigative team. Working as an investigative reporter introduced Dunning to police detectives and helped him hone his research...
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