Interview with Tony Hillerman

by Stephen Ausherman

Albuquerque the Magazine

July 2005
Photo by Liz Lopez/ATM
For those who don't already know,
Tony Hillerman is a household name
for mystery readers worldwide.

The highly acclaimed author's
catalog of accolades includes
honors as diverse as the Malice
Domestic Lifetime Achievement
Award, a Purple Heart, a Silver Star,
the Silver Spur Award for the best
novel set in the West, a Special
Friends of the Dinee Award by the
Navajo Nation, the National Media
Award from the American
Anthropological Association, the
Public Service Award from the U.S.
Department of the Interior and the
Grand Prix de Littérature Policiére.

The list goes on.

He's penned something in the
neighborhood of twenty novels,
three of which found their way to film.

The Hillerman franchise of books
and cinema recently expanded into
tourism when the prolific author
endorsed group tours of the sacred
Indian lands that inspired his novels.
Debuting this year, Hillerman
Country Tours are slated to depart
from Albuquerque and Phoenix for
five-day excursions across New
Mexico and Arizona.

Stephen Ausherman recently
previewed the tour and spoke with
Tony Hillerman about it.
excerpt from the interview

SA: One of the highlights of the tour is meeting James
Peshlakai at the Grand Canyon. You mention in your
notes that he allowed you to use his name for the
fictional shaman of Coyote Canyon in
The Wailing
. ... What can you tell me about the real James

TH: He's a great guy. He's a Navajo who understands
his people and his culture. And he’s a bona fide, true-
blue Navajo. I admire him a lot.

SA: The fictional Peshlakai seems to have a quiet,
somewhat mischievous sense of humor.

TH: That is typically Navajo. An endless, deep sense
of humor. They've always got something to smile
about. Two things about Navajo, their characteristics:
One is that sense of humor. The other one is, and I’ve
never known another culture like it, that has as
strongly a love of the beautiful things in nature. ...
by Stephen Ausherman

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