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Anne Hillerman: Song Of The Lion- A Legacy Series
by Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney
Wednesday May 3rd, 2017 7:01 PM
A review with mystery writer/author Anne Hillerman's new novel- SONG OF THE LION
by Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney

I spent the last few minutes reviewing my questions for my interview with international mystery author/ writer Anne Hillerman's newest Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito novel: 'SONG OF THE LION'. I just knew the questions were right for Anne's interview. Her new powerhouse novel is number 8 on the New York Time's best seller list. Her past two novels 'ROCK WITH WINGS' & 'SPIDER WOMAN'S DAUGHTER' have appeared on the New York Times best seller's list as well. But the new novel: 'SONG OF THE LION' is bold, stunning & brilliant. This new novel must be viewed as the signature book in the evolution of the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series, a high mark or theme identifying the character of Bernadette Manuelito as coming into her prime. Bernie in this novel represents a different kind of a power, a different kind of energy and a different kind of strength.

As the Library Journal review cited: " this multilayered story of suspense, with its background of contemporary environmental vs. development issues." And that is exactly where my first question started. In the beginning of her novel there is a plan to build a super resort in the Grand Canyon at the confluence of where the Little Colorado River empties into the Colorado River. I had asked her if her inspiration had come from real world, real time possible development of a sacred site area to the Dine, Paiute, Hopi and other Native Nations around that area of the Grand Canyon. This possible development of that area of the Grand Canyon is called 'Grand Canyon Escalade' which would be a 1.6 mile gondola tram ride that would drop 3200 feet into the Canyon & take visitors from the rim to the bottom of the river in about 10 minutes.

She said her inspiration had indeed come from the possible 'Grand Canyon Escalade' resort development. She stated " I had been reading daily in the newspapers about this proposed development in this sacred site area. The spiritual & cultural aspects of this sacred site area of the Navajo, Hopi, Paiute and other Native Nations in that area was in conflict with the concept of a proposed $230 million dollar Grand Canyon resort development! These headlines concerned me about attempts at making money at this sacred site in the Grand Canyon! However it just not appropriate. Be mindful that the Navajos, Paiute, Hopi and other Nations can use the jobs that the resort could create. It's just not clear cut. Its about finding a common ground on the slippery slope of development."

I had shared with Anne that in this novel, that Bernie during a car bombing at the Shiprock High School basketball game, Bernie takes a very strong leadership role at bombing crime scene. She has taken the position of being more of a authority figure & will not let anybody undermine or challenge her decision making at the bombing crime scene. I had asked Ann how Bernie's character had evolved to that level for that particular scene. Ann stated:

"Bernie was not at the basketball on assignment, she was there to enjoy the game. And then all of the sudden there is an explosion that rocks the area. It is then her training as a law enforcement professional kicks in! Her leadership and ability to make decisions under such conditions will not be challenged or undermined because of her gender being a woman. I always saw Bernie in this series as the a full fledged law officer, the crime-solver. This is her true role. Because gender should not be a barrier!"

Then I asked Ann with the character of the Navajo attorney Aza Palmer, who is mediator for all parties in resort development in her novel ,how she came to develop his character. She responded with: " As you know high school & college basketball is really big on the reservation. Aza Palmer was a really big basket ball star and women would go crazy about being with him. He finds out he going to became a Dad. His character told me how he would develop. He would leave the Navajo reservation to get law degree in Arizona. He would then return home to reconnect with his family, and since he was a Navajo lawyer it was felt he would make a good mediator for the proposed resort."

We then discussed during the course of the interview how Anne had quietly interlaced her current novel with soft spoken elements of comedy & humor. I cited to her about Leaphorn's dislike and resisting of modern computer technology. In the novel, Leaphorn missing his old computer, thinks to himself- " He would have stayed loyal to the old dinosaur on his desktop." Anne responded that her Father had inspired her with regards to Leaphorn's dislike of computer technology. My father had issues and bad luck with computers, Joe Leaphorn inherited my Dad's problems!," she said while giggling.

I then asked her about the interaction of Louisa & Bernie, with the tea she insisted that Bernie drink. And Bernie's not wanting to drink the tea because it tasted pretty bad and as well not wanting to hurt Louisa's feeling by not drinking it. Anne said, "You know I have drank some of that tea I write about and you really choke down on it. What is even more important, is to drink the tea then you don't hurt anyone's feelings. It may not seem that things are not funny at the time, but when you look back on it, it does become funny When writing the novel, it slipped into the book."

In the last few questions we talked more about Bernie.

Booklist review citied that Anne was:" still establishing Manuelito as the main player in what has become a fine legacy series". I had asked Anne what she thought of Bernie as a beloved female character by her readers and as well what her thoughts about being called a 'legacy series'.

She responded with: " Breathless, speechless! I think to myself who me?! I wanted to bring

Bernie to the forefront. This has made so humbled & honored. She is a modern woman that has a complicated life. She feels she making a contribution with her career. Bernie is very grounded. She really takes care of herself with the ideas of balance & harmony. Good examples of that is her running & morning prayers. She is more physical and is always on the move. Like when she interviewed witnesses at explosion site or helping Palmer in the Canyon both as a cop and Dine woman knowing how dangerous it was!"

Anne noted: " I am proud what people say about my books, my Dad was doing this since 1970. That ground work he has laid is still solid today. I learned that with my first book, 'SPIDER WOMAN'S DAUGHTER' that my readers stayed with me. And I must acknowledge the independent bookstores too. As example in Scottsdale, AZ. there is a book store called the Poison Pen. It is a mecca for mystery writers, who want to get the word out about their books. These independent bookstores enable authors like me to get a boost of energy to meet our readers face to face. That's what really excites me as being a writer/ author!"

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