Andrew Jefferson "Ace" Collins (1953–)

aka: Ace Collins

Author Ace Collins has more than ninety published books, including children’s books, biographies, and books on history, culture, and faith. Together, his books have sold more than 2.5 million copies. In 2015, Collins’s book Color of Justice won the Christy Award for Suspense Book of the Year.

Andrew Jefferson Collins, an only child, was born on August 17, 1953, in Rantoul, Illinois, to Doyle E. Collins and T. Charlene Shell Collins. His father taught math and was also a basketball coach, while his mother taught first grade for most of her career. In his early childhood, Collins spent most of his time in Royal, Illinois, but he also spent time in Arkansas, where his father was a student at what is now the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). Christmas and summer holidays were frequently spent with his grandparents in Fulton County in northern Arkansas.

Collins attended Baylor University with the goal of becoming a professional writer. While there, he earned his nickname, “Ace,” by playing the ace of hearts to win a hearts tournament. Collins made this his pen name. In 1975, Collins graduated with a BA in English and journalism, and he started his career by writing magazine and newspaper articles for such publications such as Texas Monthly, People, and Us Weekly. He also worked full time for one year as a high school teacher and basketball coach at Penelope Independent School District in Texas.

He signed his first book contract in 1982, but for the next decade, to supplement his income, he continued to work as a substitute teacher, officiate high school basketball games, and write newspaper and magazine articles. By 2018, he had authored over 2,000 magazine features.

In 1975, Collins married Kathy Chapman, and they have two sons, P. Clint and Rance. Collins and his family moved to Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 2009. His wife, Dr. Kathy Collins, began teaching at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) that year, joined the faculty full time in 2010, and later became chair of the Department of Education.

Collins’s first notable books were The Mandrell Family Album (1984) and Lassie: A Dog’s Life (1993), which led to television specials on ABC and PBS. The following books authored by Collins made the Amazon Best Sellers Rank for the Top 100 books in their subject categories: Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs (1996), Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas (2001), The Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas (2003), Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America (2009), Songs Sung Red, White, and Blue (2009), Stories Behind the Traditions and Songs of Easter (2009), Turn Your Radio On (2009), Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas (2010), and The Most Wonderful Time of Year (2016). Collins won the 2014 IndieFab Pet Book Award for Man’s Best Hero: True Stories of Great American Dogs (2014). Service Tails: More Stories of Man’s Best Hero (2016), a collection of true stories of service dogs and the humans they work for, was a 2016 IndieFab finalist for the “Pet and Animals” category and the 2015 Christian Retailing Gift Book of the Year.

Like his nonfiction titles, Collins’s fictional works span a variety of genres: adventures, mysteries, sentimental tales, and historic stories. His stand-alone fiction titles include Darkness before Dawn (1995), The Yellow Packard (2012), The Christmas Star (2012), and The Fruitcake Murders (2015). Collins began writing two fiction series: In the President’s Service, featuring Helen Meeker, a World War II–era detective who solves crimes with the help of her sidekicks, and Lije Evans Mysteries, following attorney Lije Evans as he solves his wife’s murder and finds evidence to prove the innocence of his clients. The first two books in the Lije Evans Mysteries series are Farraday Road and Swope’s Ridge.

Collins considers his seminal work to be his 2014 fiction title The Color of Justice, which is a double courtroom drama set in Justice, Mississippi, that examines racial prejudice in 1964 and 2014. It was the 2015 Christy Award Winner for Best Suspense Book of the Year. The Christy Awards, named for Catherine Marshall’s novel Christy, are presented by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, which honors and promotes excellence in Christian fiction.

Collins has appeared on national news shows, including Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Today Show, and NBC Nightly News, as well as on the CNN and Fox networks. During the winter holidays, Collins is often invited to appear on radio shows in Arkansas.

For additional information:
Ace Collins https://acecollins.com (accessed October 26, 2018).

Nelson, Rex. “A Writer’s Life.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 27, 2018. Online at http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/jun/27/a-writer-s-life-20180627 (accessed October 26, 2018).

Smotherman, Brenda. “Abingdon Fiction Author Ace Collins Wins Christy Award.” Abingdon Press, June 30, 2015. http://www.abingdonpress.com/news/1465/abingdon-fiction-author-ace-collins-wins-christy-award#.Wzqw4dVKjIU (accessed October 26, 2018).

Autumn Mortenson
Ouachita Baptist University

Last Updated: 10/26/2018

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