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The Case of Tony Hillerman: An Interview

From: Journal of the Southwest
Volume 50, Number 4, Winter 2008
pp. 447-457 | 10.1353/jsw.2008.0017

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The Case of Tony Hillerman:
An Interview
Mario Materassi

Mario Materassi taught American literature at the University of Florence, Italy, and is an editorial advisor for Journal of the Southwest.


1. When The Blessing Way was translated into Italian, doubts arose as to the appropriateness of this title for a mystery novel. I suggested Il canto del nemico (The Enemy Song). This is the title under which the novel was published. In inscribing the book, Tony wrote: “For Mario—who shares my conviction that this is the best title.” Incidentally, the French translation followed suit in its title.

2. The Dark Wind, directed by Errol Morris, premiered in 1991. The film received very little attention.

3. In a later conversation, Hillerman humorously expanded on his far-from-successful venture into acting.

4. Hillerman Country: A Journey through the Southwest with Tony Hillerman was published in 1991 by HarperCollins.

5. The reference is to Finding Moon, published in 1995.

6. “Probably,” according to Hillerman, “‘Chee's Witch.’” This story is included in The Tony Hillerman Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to His Life and Work, ed. Martin Greenberg (New York: HarperCollins, 1994).

7. Hillerman was talking about The Sacred Clowns, published in 1993.

8. In May 1992 I asked Hillerman how the story of the smuggler was coming. His answer was, “The smuggler has diminished in importance in the plot.” The character finally disappeared from the novel. Possibly, Hillerman resurrected it as Jason Delos in The Shape Shifter (2006). When I asked the writer, he said, “I don't remember whether I consciously did. But you may be right.”

9. Louis A. Hieb is the author of Tony Hillerman: From The Blessing Way to Talking God: A Bibliography (Tucson: Press of the Gigantic Hound, 1990).

10. The character of Louisa Bourebonette is present throughout the entire saga.