Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to visit with Manic Readers.
For those who aren’t familiar with THE POT THIEF mysteries can you give them a quick overview, please?
THE POT THIEF books are humorous mysteries set in New Mexico. The “pot” they deal with is the sort created from clay by pre-Columbian peoples, not the sort grown in the forests of Northern California.
Exactly who is Hubie and how did he come to exist?
Hubie is a mild-mannered shop keeper whose love of ancient pots drives him to dig them up and sell them. It’s against the law, of course, but he has crafted a number of rationalizations for his behavior.
Why the relationship with Susannah?
Every protagonist needs a sidekick/foil, and Susannah is perfect for Hubie. She is young and brash; he is older and reticent. He is also in love with her although he doesn’t know it.
I love Hubie and Susannah. Their friendship is so warm, natural, and caring.
I read that a favorite author of yours is Arturo Perez-Reverte. I love his books but have found so few people who’ve read him. Do you prefer his stand alones or the Captain Alatriste series? Do you have a favorite? My favorite stand alone is The Fencing Master. (The less said about the movie Johnny Depp starred in based on The Club Dumas, the better. I shudder every time it crosses my mind.)
My favorite is The Flanders Panel. Indeed, it is one of my favorite books by any author.
That was a good one too…
Is there anything you hope people take away from THE POT THIEF mysteries?
Hubie’s firmest convictions are each embodied in what he calls a Schuze Anthropological Premise, or SAP, which he quips is what his friends call anyone who believes them. What all the SAPs have in common is the belief that cultural differences are the source of most human conflict and misery, and that the world would be a better place if we concentrated on the important things we all share as members of the human family and stopped fighting over tribal differences.
Enjoy Hubie’s SAP’s. They do make you think, no doubt.
Can you tell us what we have to look forward to with Hubie and his friends in the near future?
Next up is The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence, which finds Hubie and Susannah trapped by a snowstorm in a retreat center at the Lawrence Ranch high above Taos, New Mexico. People start getting killed off in this send-up
of an Agatha Christie mystery.
Opportunity didn’t bother to knock. It just walked into my shop in the guise of a man with a broad face and pronounced epicanthic eye folds.
Of course I didn’t recognize him as opportunity. Nor did I think he was a customer. In the twenty years I’ve been in business, I’ve never had an Indian buy a pot.
He made no eye contact as he turned to the first piece of merchandise, an ancient olla from Santo Domingo. He studied it for perhaps thirty seconds. His movement to the next pot was so contained it seemed as though he was still and I was the one moving. Like when a boat moves away from a dock, something I never experience in Albuquerque.
I watched him survey the merchandise in this fashion for a few minutes then went back to The Wooing of Malkatoon by Lew Wallace, a book so bad I couldn’t put it down.
When my visitor finally approached the counter, I marked my place in the book and studied him. The heavy-lidded eyes looked weary, his face impassive. His sparse facial hair was unshaven. His worn jeans and stained chambray shirt gave him the look of someone who might ask you for spare change.
And yet… there was another layer, a sort of pentimento. What could be read as resignation might also be strength. Someone comfortable enough in his skin that he feels no need to demonstrate it to others. Did his countenance reflect five hundred years of white dominance or five hundred years of quiet resistance?
He stopped four feet from me. His hooded eyes seemed to take in the entire room without focusing on anything specific.
“You don’t have any pots from my people.”
His sibilant words drifted across my eardrums like tumbleweeds over dry sand.
“Taos,” he said. “How you know?”
He probably counted Picuris as a correct answer because Taos and Picuris are the only two places that speak the northern Tiwalanguage. I thought I heard the accent. The southern version is spoken in the two pueblos closest to Albuquerque – Sandia and Isleta. A variety of Tiwa was also spoken in Texas, where it was spelled Tigua. The pueblo there – also on the Rio Grande – was named like the one near Albuquerque but spelled with a ‘Y’ in the little village of Ysleta, long ago swallowed up by the El Paso metropolis.
But my fascination with Taos stems not from their language but from their traditional pottery. It was unlike any produced in the other pueblos of New Mexico. Their utilitarian style made Taos pottery less popular with collectors than the elaborate polychrome works of San Juan or the black-on-blacks of San Ildefonso.
The reason I had no pots from Taos wasn’t a matter of taste. I specialize in antique pieces, and old pots from Taos are rare because they were often purchased by local Hispanics and Anglos for everyday use which led to their eventually being broken or discarded. Very few people collected them.
When I explained this to my visitor, he nodded.
There was a long silence. I knew to avoid small talk. I looked outside to the deserted sidewalk. Too late in the year for skiers, too early for summer tourists.
“I can get you three Taos pots from the 1920s,” he finally said, eyes looking through me.
I told him I was interested.
“First you have to get an old one for me,” he said.
The offer to get me three pieces if I got him one seemed odd. I asked how I could get an old Taos pot for him.
He finally looked me in the eyes. “You’ll have to steal it.”
Maybe he wasn’t opportunity personified. Maybe he was temptation.
I’m so looking forward to THE POT THIEF WHO STUDIED D.H. LAWRENCE. It’s always a good time when I escape to Albuquerque with Hubie and crew.
How do you relax?
I drink martinis.
A favorite thing to do?
Do you have a favorite food?
Witness for the Prosecution.
Tim Hallinan, especially my new favorite series, the Junior Bender books.
Godel, Escher and Bach. Very heavy. For a lighter read, Not to Mention the Dog.
Have your reading tastes changed over the years?
No. That probably means I have some deep-seated character flaw, but I like what I like.
Music, musician, or band?
Thanks again for visiting Manic Readers, Mike. I’ve really enjoyed our chat.
Thanks, Ivy. Love the site.
Thank you, Mike!