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Thursday, October 30, 2008


Remembering Tony Hillerman

This wonderful, 10-minute video bio of the late author Tony Hillerman was featured at LATimes.com.

Hillerman died this week at age 83.

At about the 5:15 mark, he talks about his first novel, THE BLESSING WAY, which his agent panned, then advised him to stick to non-fiction:
"I'd been selling magazine articles for non-fiction, and I said 'well, why you gotta be so negative about it?'

And she said 'well, because it's a bad book.'

I said 'well, that's a typical New York City answer. Why is it a bad book?'

'Well, it falls between the stools,' she said, 'it's not a literary novel and it's not a genre novel and the bookstore people won't know what shelf to put it on.'

She didn't want me to rewrite it. She said 'why don't you just forget it.'

I said 'well I think I'll rewrite it.'

She said, 'well, if you're going to rewrite it, get rid of all the Indian stuff. Nobody's interested in Indians.'

Suffice it to say, as the video's narrator points out, Hillerman got a new agent, kept in the "Indian stuff," and went on to publish 18 Indian mystery novels.

Click to e-mail TJ Sullivan in LA
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