Anne Hillerman's debut novel, Spider Woman's Daughter, is our Top Pick in Mystery for October 2013. Hillerman, a celebrated journalist and author of eight books of nonfiction, has shifted focus with her latest release to the fictional world of the best-selling Navajo mysteries first penned by her late father, Tony Hillerman. Though longtime fans will be delighted at the return of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, Spider Woman's Daughter brings Officer Bernadette Manuelito into the spotlight, weaving a powerful and welcomed female perspective into the series.
We chatted with Hillerman about her writing process, the best meal in her home state of New Mexico and more in a 7 questions interview.
Describe your book in one sentence.
Bernadette Manuelito witnesses a police shooting and the aftermath leads her, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee on a quest for a killer with a secret to keep and a lust for revenge.
In your new book, you focus on a side character from the Navajo mysteries, Bernie Manuelito. What do you love most about her?
Bernie is smart, spunky, curious and, most of all, a strong woman who I felt deserved her chance to shine.
How does your experience as a journalist influence your process of writing fiction?
Journalism required me to get to the point quickly, to be a good listener, to do research (but not too much research) and to write on deadline. It also allowed me to meet all kinds of interesting people who probably show up in some form as characters.
What’s the best writing advice your father ever gave you?
Would you make a good detective?
Maybe, although I tend to think the best of people rather than assume they're up to something nefarious.
You frequently write restaurant reviews for the Albuquerque Journal. What is the one meal everyone should have in New Mexico?
Posole made from scratch with red chile sauce and a sopaipilla. Makes me hungry thinking of it!
I'm working on the next Bernadette Manuelito and company novel, using Monument Valley as one of settings.