Margaret Coel: Hana je nahadina
Excerpts from the interview by Lynn Kaczmarek in the October/November 2000 issue of Mystery News
The Arapahos have a saying. They say that stories exist in the universe and every once in a while they decide to be told and when they decide to be told, they choose the storyteller, said Margaret Coel in our recent conversation.
After six mystery novels, numerous short stories, magazine articles and one non-fiction work on the subject, it seems pretty clear to me that the stories have chosen Margaret Coel . Margaret Coel is a native of Colorado. Trained as a newspaper reporter, she easily moved between non-fiction books and magazine articles exploring her love of Western history. Her interest in Colorado history drew her to the Arapahos, one of the Plains Tribes, and resulted in a non-fiction work entitled Chief Left Hand: Southern Arapaho. And then she heard Tony Hillerman speak
Coels first mystery, The Eagle Catcher came directly out of the research she had done for the non-fiction book, Chief Left Hand The University Press edition of The Eagle Catcher caused quite a stir among collectors in 1995. With only 1,000 copies published, it quickly became collectible (selling between $150 and $200 today) The Ghost Walker, The Dream Stalker, The Story Teller, The Lost Bird, and last month, The Spirit Woman, followed. All are set on the Wind River Reservation in Central Wyoming and feature Father John OMalley, S.J., the recovering-alcoholic Jesuit priest of the St. Francis Mission and Vicky Holden, an Arapaho attorney, who after a number of years in the outside world, has returned to the reservation to do something more worthwhile for her people. The early books in the series focus on all-too-common Native American issues, fraudulent oil and land deals, illegal drugs, nuclear waste storage, and development. My favorites, though, are the two that deal with Arapaho antiquities.
Not only is Margaret Coel committed to the mystery novels, but shes made a big commitment to Jim Seels from A.S.A.P. Publishing a Wind River Reservation short story based on each of the ten Arapaho commandments. The first one she tackled was the obvious one Hana je nahadina which translates to Thou shalt do no murder and appears in Dead End from A.S.A.P. Four short stories have been published to date, each in a separate signed limited edition volume replete with the commandment written in Arapaho by Coel, original artwork by the celebrated Phil Parks, and forewords written by prominent mystery writers the likes of James D. Doss and Marcia Muller .
[Read the complete interview in October/November 2000 issue of Mystery News]