Mystery books, authors, tips, and writings

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Farewell, Tony Hillerman

I first “met” Tony Hillerman through his books, mysteries of course, featuring Navajo police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The first novel I found, was his first, The Blessing Way, which came out in 1970. He wove knowledge of the Novajo into his writing so smoothly that I learned as well as enjoyed a good mystery. Anytime I could, I bought or borrowed or swapped to get copies of books I didn’t own already.

Even though Tony was originally from Oklahoma, I never had the opportunity to meet him in person until the Red Dirt Book Festival, October 2003, in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I attended all his sessions, stood in line to get my books autographed, and listened as he spoke at the banquet. Several times he visited with me during the course of the two-day festival. A friendly and gracious man, he signed one of my books with a personal message, giving me a keepsake that I will forever treasure.

One thing he shared with us that weekend, some people around him in the publishing business considered him a prude because he didn’t include sexual scenes. One person told him the closest he came to sexual tension was to have a man and woman shake hands.

Many people have written about Tony over the years, and since his death, but one article that best explains his books is an article by the author himself: “Behind the Books” by Tony Hillerman. I advise anyone and everyone read that essay.

Tony Hillerman’s fans and readers will miss him, and I’m one of those who will.

Anthony Grove Hillerman, writer, born May 27 1925; died October 26 2008.

NOTE: Photo by Kelly Campbell


No comments: