“Debut author Graves, who is Ojibwa, realistically depicts life living on a reservation via Tre’s earnest first-person POV, and plentiful fast-paced basketball game sequences will appeal to fans of sports fiction.” — Publishers Weekly

Byron Graves is Ojibwe and Lakota. He was born and raised on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, where he played high school basketball. When he isn’t writing, he can be found playing retro video games, skateboarding, or cleaning up after his cats.

Rez Ball, his debut novel won the William C Morris Young Adult debut award, the American Indian Youth Literature award for Best Young Adult novel, the 34th annual Reading the West best Young Adult award, was a 2024 Boston Globe Horn Book Fiction Honors Book, and won the Colorado Book Awards best Young Adult novel.

Byron has also had his work featured in the English Journal. Other stories of his can be found in the anthology, All Signs Point to Yes. His highly anticipated second novel is set to be released by Heartdrum, an imprint of Harper Collins in 2025.

Byron's Featured Titles

Rez Ball

Heartdrum |
Young Adult

This compelling debut novel by new talent Byron Graves tells the relatable, high-stakes story of a young athlete determined to play like the hero his Ojibwe community needs him to be.

These days, Tre Brun is happiest when he is playing basketball on the Red Lake Reservation high school team—even though he can’t help but be constantly gut-punched with memories of his big brother, Jaxon, who died in an accident.

When Jaxon’s former teammates on the varsity team offer to take Tre under their wing, he sees this as his shot to represent his Ojibwe rez all the way to their first state championship. This is the first step toward his dream of playing in the NBA, no matter how much the odds are stacked against him.

But stepping into his brother’s shoes as a star player means that Tre can’t mess up. Not on the court, not at school, and not with his new friend, gamer Khiana, who he is definitely not falling in love with.

After decades of rez teams almost making it, Tre needs to take his team to state. Because if he can live up to Jaxon’s dreams, their story isn’t over yet.

This book is published by Heartdrum, an imprint that publishes high-quality, contemporary stories about Indigenous young people in the United States and Canada.


Diversity in Literature

Byron Graves draws from his heritage and personal experiences to craft stories that resonate with readers from all walks of life. His narratives are explorations of identity, culture, and the human spirit. Through his characters and stories, Graves provides a window into a world that has been historically underrepresented in mainstream literature.

The importance of diversity in literature cannot be overstated. Diverse voices like Byron Graves’ offer us the opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes, to see the world from different perspectives, and to foster empathy and understanding. In a globalized society, it’s imperative that our bookshelves reflect the myriad of cultures, traditions, and experiences that make up our world. Literature is a powerful tool for education and transformation, and by championing diverse authors, we ensure that all voices are heard and valued.

Byron will cover a brief, topical overview of diversity of literature, with a focus on Indigenous authors and stories, this will include statistics and turning points, as well as his perspective on why it’s important for Indigenous youth to have themselves represented in books, but also why it’s just as important for other readers.


Let me tell you a story. My story

Byron will share a behind the scenes story of what his path to becoming a published, award winning author was like. Byron was born and raised on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, at the time his High School had one of the highest drop out rates, truancy rates, teen pregnancies rates, as well as one of the lowest ratio of graduates going on to college. The reservation had a small amount of economic growth or job opportunities. Dreaming big, or thinking outside the box seemed silly to say the least.

Byron attempted to attend college, but struggled, eventually dropping out. Later, he faced significant obstacles, including drug addiction and mental health struggles. Despite these hardships, Byron found strength in his heritage and storytelling, using these as tools for healing and transformation.

Through resilience and determination, Byron overcame his personal battles and emerged as an award-winning author. His work not only highlights the complexities of life on a reservation but also offers a message of hope and perseverance.

Byron Graves shares the details of his writing journey from the day he decided to write a book, the struggles of self teaching while balancing a 9-5, the roadblocks of years of rejection from agents and publishers, as well as the purpose he found that gave him the determination to push through failure.

Like his writing, this personal presentation is infused with gritty, transparent truth, inspiring anecdotes, well timed comedic relief as well as humorous reflections.

From adversity to literary acclaim, Byron’s story is a testament to the power of the human spirit. His contributions to literature provide a vital voice for underrepresented communities and inspire others to overcome their struggles and pursue their dreams.


Write what you know

In this special session, Byron will take us behind the scenes of his creative process, sharing the writing methods that have propelled him to literary success.

Young creatives will gain invaluable insights into how to harness their unique experiences and voices in their writing. Byron’s approach to crafting compelling narratives and authentic characters offers a masterclass in storytelling. He will discuss practical techniques, such as character development, world-building, and maintaining discipline in the writing process.

It’s an inspiring conversation with a focus on the deeper layers of the creative storytelling process. Byron Graves will empower writers to turn their stories into impactful works of art.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of today’s most dynamic and influential voices in literature.

Coming Soon!

Honors, Awards & Recognition

William C. Morris Award winner
American Indian Youth Literature Award Winner—Teen
Colorado Book Award Young Adult Category
34th Annual Reading the West Book Award Young Adult Category
New York Public Library Best Books of the Year
TAYSHAS Reading List (Texas Library Association)
Book Riot best books of the year
Starred review, School Library Journal
CYBILS finalist
Nerdy Book Club Nerdie Award
CCBC Choices
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award nominee
Massachusetts Teen Choice Book Award nominee
Vermont State Book Award nominee
2024-2025 Green Mountain Book Award

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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