By Susan Johnson
Cross best-selling author Tony Hillerman with veteran author Sue Grafton and what have you got — the best of both worlds in a hybrid writer named Sandi Ault who’s coming to the Well Red Coyote bookstore in West Sedona on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m.
According to Joe Neri, co-owner of the bookstore, Ault’s last workshop ranked as one of the best ever and he anticipates nothing less this time.
“Sandi cuts through the bull to what writers need to know to make it in the publishing big leagues,” Neri said.
Just as Hillerman educated his readers on the culture and etiquette of the Navajo, sending Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee down endless washboard roads in the Four Corners of the Colorado Platea, Ault specializes in characters who populate northern New Mexico.
And, just as Grafton sends her heroine, Kindsey Millhone, not just into the figurative path of danger, but into the rough hands of criminals who do her physical and emotional harm, so does Ault sometimes send Jamaica Wild to vengeful people and unforgiving places.
The result is a set of mysteries that leave fans breathless by the end of the first chapter.
Ault’s first novel, “Wild Indigo,” won a special Edgar, the Mary Higgins Clark Award — the first time a debut novel had ever been nominated, making nine regional bestsellers lists and acclaimed by The New York Times.
Publishers Weekly named her second novel, “Wild Inferno,” one of the best books of 2008.
Her latest, “Wild Sorrow,” has just been published by Berkley Prime Crime in hardcover.
As the real life owner of a wolf, Ault bestows a fictional wolf on Jamaica as well, letting readers in on the delicate psyches and surprising behaviors of animals that look fierce but agonize from fears of abandonment.
She also equips her heroine with a love for nature, a lust for good-looking men and friendship with a six-foot, karate-chopping, kick-boxing FBI agent named Diane Langstrom.
Those assets come in handy for Jamaica who’s burdened with working for the Bureau of Land Management, one of the most reviled agencies in the Southwest.
A softer, kinder mentor is Jamaica’s friend and Tiwa mentor Momma Anna.
Although Ault tantalizes her readers with some details about the reclusive American Indian Tiwa tribe, she holds as many back.
“The Puebloan culture is considered closed, they are not eager to share, but rather preserve it by keeping it an oral culture,” Ault said. “Rather than violate the secrecy and sacredness of their traditions, some rituals are a bit similar but nothing is exactly the same, the specifics are unrevealed or changed out of respect.”
Ault’s presentation, “The Wild Toolbox for Writers,” is free and open to the public.
More information on Ault’s presentation is available from the Well Red Coyote at 282-2284.
The bookstore is located at 3190 Hwy. 89A at the intersection of Dry Creek Road.
Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or e-mail
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