Tony Hillerman 1925 - 2008
Landscape photo from Canyon de Chelly. Portrait photo by
Eric Swanson

Tony Hillerman: Journalist, Novelist

“A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack
and a pointed stick collecting stuff.
A quote from Tony Hillerman on a plaque at the UNM School of Journalism.

A photo on the wall by Anne's husband,
Don Strel.

A mixture of SW Native and Eastern European craft.

Tony Hillerman

Navajo Detective Series (Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee)
The Blessing Way (1970)
Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)
Listening Woman (1978)
People Of Darkness (1980)
The Dark Wind (1982)*
The Ghostway (1984)
Skinwalkers (1986)*
A Thief of Time (1988)*
Talking God (1989)
Coyote Waits (1990)*
Sacred Clowns (1993)
The Fallen Man (1996)
The First Eagle (1998)
Hunting Badger (1999)
The Wailing Wind (2002)
The Sinister Pig (2003)
Skeleton Man (2004)
The Shape Shifter (2006)

* = made into a film

Other Novels
The Fly on the Wall (1971)
Finding Moon (1995)
The Boy Who Made Dragonfly (for children) (1972)
Buster Mesquite's Cowboy Band (for children) (1973)

Anthologies, Nonfiction, Memoir

Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir (2001)
The Great Taos Bank Robbery (1973)
The Spell of New Mexico (1976)
Indian Country (1987)
Talking Mysteries w/ Ernie Bulow (1991)
The Tony Hillerman Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to His Life and Work w/ Martin Greenberg (1994)
The Oxford book of American Detective Stories (1996)
Canyon De Chelly (1998)
Best American Mysteries of the Century (2000)
Best of the Western: Anthology of Classic Writing from the America West (1991)
New Omnibus of Crime (2005)
The Mysterious West (1995)

1974 Edgar Award, Best Mystery Novel Dance Hall of the Dead
1988 Anthony Award, Best Mystery Novel, Skinwalkers
1989 Macavity Award, Best Novel, A Theif of Time
1991 Nero Wolfe Award, Coyote Waits
1991 Grand Master, Mystery Writers of America
1992 Macavity Award, Best Critical/Briographical, Talking Mysteries
1995 Anthony Award, Best Anthology/Short Story Collection, The Mysterious West
2001 Agatha Mystery Award, Seldom Disappointed

2002 Anthony Award, Best Nonfiction/Critical Work, Seldom Disappointed

2002 Malice Domestic, Lifetime Achievement

2008 Western Writers of America, Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement

Anne Hillerman
Ride the Wind: USA to Africa (1995)
Children's Guide to Santa Fe (2005)
Santa Fe Flavors (2009)
Tony Hillerman's Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn w/Photographer Don Strel (2009)
Gardens of Santa Fe (2010) w/Photographer Don Strel
Done in the Sun: Solar Projects for Children w/ Mina Yamashita (2012)
Spider Woman's Daughter (A Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn/Bernadette Manualito mystery) (2013)

Another source of inspiration were books by Australian writer Arthur Upfield, who wrote detective stories featuring Detective Inspector Napoleon "Bony" Bonapart, a half-caste aborigine working for the Queensland Police Force.

Both Hillermans started their writing careers as journalists and both use place - the Four Cormers region they love - as a character in their writing. We were pleased to find that Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee will continue on with Anne's new - and well received - Spider Woman's Daughter, featuring policewoman Bernie Manualito. We hope that she continues to write, celebrate writers and writing, and share the warm, mystical world she lives in through her writing. We enjoyed meeting Anne and hearing about her father. We hope you will too.

This interview turned out to be a "two-fer." We went to interview Anne Hillerman about her father, Tony Hillerman; we not only learned about Tony, but also about Anne, a talented author in her own right. Largely through Anne's efforts, Tony left a writer's legacy with the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference, the Tony Hillerman Prize for first mystery novel, and the Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest. Tony was well known for encouraging writers, especially serious newcomers, and Anne continues that support.

Like many of the authors we have interviewed, Tony Hillerman was always a reader and a natural storyteller, but it didn't occur to him that he could make a living through writing. However, Beatrice Stahl, a reporter with The Daily Oklahoman encouraged him to give journalism a shot after reading the letters he wrote to his mother during WWII.

He worked as a farmer, truck driver, oil-field roughneck, reporter, and editor before getting his master's degree in journalism, joining the faculty at University of New Mexico (later becoming department chair) and writing novels.

Shortly after moving to New Mexico, circumstances led him to Crown Point and a Navajo Enemy Way ceremony held to welcome returning soldiers back into the community and help them begin healing from their war experiences. He became enamored with Navajo culture and continued to study and write about it for the rest of his life.

Interview Movie
(Embedded version below)

Audio File
(Note: To download the podcast,
right click on the link if you are on a PC,
control click if you are on a Mac. )


Santa Fe, NM

Run Time:



Mystery, nonfiction


No Tony Hillerman site, but this is the conference / writing contest site:
And Anne Hillerman's site:


Sacred Heart, Oklahoma

Youthful Influence:

Storytellers in his family and in his father's general store.

Favorite Authors:

Tony started as a 'random reader' courtesy of the Oklahoma mail order library system, which sent odd choices instead of what he ordered. He later read Raymond Chandler analytically to learn how to write a detective story. Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, and Stephen Ambrose are among his favorites.

Creative Habit:

He always kept a notebook with ideas for his books. He wrote every night after work at his bedroom desk on a typewriter. Eventually he switched to a computer, but was an unwilling convert.

Anne Hillerman

"You have to make it (writing) a priority in your life, and just do it."

Tony and Anne Hillerman

A snap of a photo in "Tony Hillerman's Landscape."
The origianl photo was taken near Toadlena
in NW New Mexico by Don Strel.

The legacy continues . . . Hooray!