Monday, November 2, 2015



By Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney

By Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney
I had my coffee and notes ready for my interview with Anne Hillerman (daughter of Tony Hillerman) international mystery writer and with two New York Times best sellers she has authored- SPIPER WOMAN'S DAUGHTER and ROCK WITH WINGS.

The phone rings exactly at 3pm sharp. I take a quick final sip of coffee and I hear the charming and delightful voice of Anne calling me from her home in Santa Fe. I was really so excited to finally hear the voice of Ann, she is a master story teller who really understands the art of being interviewed and talking with her was like talking to my best friend or close family member. She is a very warm, friendly and well-spoken person about her art and craft of being both a writer and author.

" I can remember my Dad talking so much about his main character Joe Leaphorn I almost viewed him as an uncle. It was from this point, I realized how lucky I was to write fiction in a fictional world that I had inherited from my Dad.This was how rich that experience was. It was from there I sensed the real love of my Dad's telling those stories.It really hit home with me in the early 70's, when Dad sold his book the BLESSING WAY. It was then finally Joe Leaphorn had a real place in fiction to exist and be."

She has carefully researched and studied her Dad's internationally acclaimed Leaphorn-Chee mysteries to carry it and have it evolve to the whole next level. When I asked her about her two New York Times best-sellers SPIDER WOMAN'S DAUGHTER and ROCK WITH WINGS she explained to me how she had sought to take her Dad's character, Navajo Tribal cop, Bernadette Manuelito to have a real life of her own in the Leaphorn-Chee-Manueltio series she was writing.

" Bernie is the wife of Sheriff Jim Chee, as my readers know. But she needed to have a place where she was viewed as crime-solver, a real law-enforcement officer. I was able to bring a new twist and my voice into her character. Dad created Bernie as a character but her life didn't have a back story, so I intended to fill that void."

" She as well has a Mother and her Sister, Darlene whom play important parts in my novels. As example, Bernie's Mother is important in her life because she is very stabilizing in Bernie's life, her Sister Darlene can be troubling at times. The younger sibling at time needs a good kick in the pants in their fictional world. Their Mother does not tolerate or put up with foolish coming from here daughters, but by the same token the Mother's health problems make her dependent on the two of them. It is just a complicated relationship at times."

" I have lived in Santa Fe since the early 70s so it was something I was familiar with and could write about. So I thought it would be great to bring Leaphorn, Chee and Bernie to Santa Fe. And to see what Bernie thought about being there for the first time."

She and her photographer Husband, Don Strel teamed up to together to write TONY HILLERMAN'S LANDSCAPE. With Don's amazing photographs and her writings, the book became a huge success. " The book was intended to be coffee table book. My editor shared that the book would be published in the United States and publishing here would be more expensive. We had down size the photo images from 225 to 100 photo images. So we had to restructure the whole book. The editor suggested that I should write about the experience of my Dad's passing in the first chapter, which I did. In doing as such, I was able to celebrate my Dad's life and as well it helped with my grieving and healing."

" What I enjoyed about writing SPIDER WOMAN'S DAUGHTER and ROCK WITH WINGS that these two mysteries were now connected to each other. After ROCK WITH WINGS was finished, I still did not have a title for it. At that time my Mother was in the hospital and she knew something was bothering me. So I shared with her about not having a title. She eventually thought of the idea for the title based on the Navajo translation of Shiprock, which would be in English- Rock with Wings. So we have two locations going on, one in Shiprock and the other in Monument Valley. The Monument Valley landscape is ancient and mysterious. My Dad had never done story based out of there. So I just knew it was the right place to have a part of the story take place at."

When asked what she liked about being a writer and author, Anne stated: " If people read my books, I am very happy! "