Before I came here – before I even thought about coming here – I read Hillerman’s Fly on the Wall. It was my first introduction. After I got here, I used The Great Taos Bank Robbery as my formal introduction.

We were a degree of separation apart, and I treasure the fact that the guy read and liked my work – and went out of his way to tell me.

I’ll let Belshaw say it for us all:

When people found out I knew him, they invariably asked, “What’s he like?”

And I would invariably say, “If you had the power to pick your next-door neighbors, you would pick Tony and Marie Hillerman. They are smart, funny, compassionate, unpretentious human beings God gave us as something to strive toward.” ….

He didn’t speak like he wrote. He spoke like what he was — an Oklahoma country boy. I have no memory of any spoken word resembling any of the grace and beauty that flowed from his mind through his fingers and onto the page.

So I asked him: “Where did that come from? Demure little blossoms?”

He shrugged and said, “I don’t know. It was just there.”