books, Native American, Taos

A Give and Take with Anne Hillerman

Questions. I love asking questions. I love hearing answers. So it’s a good combination for what is becoming an occasional gig — interviewing authors who come to Taos.

I’ve done it with Katherine Ann Power, a longtime fugitive who did time for a 1970 bank robbery in which a police officer was killed, and twice with Valerie Plame, the former CIA operative of “Fair Game” fame.

rocksThis time I interviewed Anne Hillerman, who just published “Rocks with Wings.” That’s her above greeting and signing her book for fans at Moby Dickens Bookshop in Taos.

This is the second in her series using the characters and the Navajo Nation setting of her late father, Tony Hillerman. At the time of the interview the crime novel was No. 11 on The New York Times Best Seller List.

Anne, who was on a large book tour, preferred being interviewed than doing a reading. I was happy to oblige.

I prepare for such interviews by reading the book ahead of time and coming up with questions, easy and hard. I don’t show them to the author ahead of time. I prefer spontaneity.

I found a great deal to ask Anne. The so-called softball question was why she decided to carry on the family tradition. Anne, who has worked in the news business, was inspired when she wrote a non-fiction book “Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn,” with photos by her husband Don Strel.

In “Rocks with Wings,” Anne strengthened the women characters, including, I felt, giving tribal officer Bernadette Manuelito, the tougher case to solve than her husband, Sgt. Jim Chee. Anne was gracious and lively during the event. The audience was attentive. What more could I ask for?

I have a few more gigs this month. Cindy Brown, the author of the “Taos Hiking Guide.” Then there is Steve Tapia, a wildlife biologist. Both will read and answer questions at Taos Mountain Outfitters. Finally, I will interview Hannah Nordhaus, author of “American Ghost,” at Moby Dickens, later this month.