From a family of six children, Anne Hillerman is probably the most like her father, renowned mystery novelist Tony Hillerman. Like her Dad, Ms. Hillerman’s long-time foray into writing began with writing non-fiction, and like her dad, she worked as an investigative journalist, technical writer and editor for the Santa Fe New Mexican, and various other news outlets.
As a food critic writing for The Albuquerque Journal, Ms. Hillerman’s descriptive and forthright prose heightened appreciation for the region’s unique culinary traditions. The beloved and prolific author began publishing non-fiction books in 1983, including The Children’s Guide to Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Flavors: Best Restaurants and Recipes. She collaborated with her photographer husband Don Strel on Gardens of Santa Fe, and Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: On the Road with An American Legend. The landscape book is a lovely coffee table book that intersperses Anne’s deep knowledge of the history and geography of the Four Corners regions with spectacular photography, and memorable quotes from the Leaphorn and Chee detective series.
In 2013, Anne Hillerman picked up the threads of her father’s substantial legacy with the publication of Spider Woman’s Daughter. The novel progresses the plot line of Diné detectives Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito. Hillerman sought to provide a corrective in her father’s work. Anne notes she was bothered by the narrative of Bernadette “mostly getting rescued” and endeavored to pen a western “where Bernie saves the day.”
Ms. Hillerman continues her literary efforts, publishing Rock with Wings in 2015, another in the Leaphorn and Chee series set against the magnificent backdrop of Monument Valley. Song of the Lion, her third work of fiction, will be available soon.
Spider Woman’s Daughter made the New York Times book list, and won the 2014 Western Writers of America Spur Award for best first novel. In 2015, Ms. Hillerman delivered the Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on Literature of the Southwest, entitled “Why Stories Matter.” In co-founding and directing the Tony Hillerman Writer’s Conference, and numerous other community writing endeavors, conferences, and award ceremonies, Anne Hillerman embraces a Southwest tradition that knows and appreciates the value of a story.
She has strong and loving memories of growing up as the eldest in a busy household of six children. Although she teased in a Albuquerque Journal column that Janet, her sister, displaced her as the family princess, she concluded that, “when I open my metaphorical treasure chest these days, I realize my parent’s investment in love paid dividends that any princess would cherish. Growing up in a big family taught me about differences and commonalities, about compassion and fairness, about the purpose of tears and the healing power of humor.”
Anne lives with Don in Santa Fe. She has one son and a granddaughter.