Deanne Stillman is the author of Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, a Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern California History, Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West, Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines, and the Mojave, and Joshua Tree: Desolation Tango.
Produced and directed by John Carver, Wolf Creek Productions, Inc. Photographs of trail-riding and saddled horse at rest by Peggy Suzio.
Deanne Stillman is a widely published, critically acclaimed writer. Her books of narrative nonfiction are place-based stories of war and peace in the modern and historical West. Her latest book is Desert Reckoning, which is based on her Rolling Stone piece, "The Great Mojave Manhunt," a finalist for a PEN Center USA journalism award and published in Best American Crime Writing. Desert Reckoning won the 2013 Spur Award for best western nonfiction, contemporary, the LA Press Club Award for best general nonfiction, and was named a Southwest Book of the Year. It received excellent reviews in many publications (Kirkus, PW, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Denver Post, Oregonian, and elsewhere), and was praised by writers such as DJ Waldie, James Brown, Jo-Ann Mapson, Gustavo Arellano, and Alex Espinoza.
A critically acclaimed work of literary nonfiction, Twentynine Palms was first published in 2001 and named a "best book" of that year by the LA Times. Hunter Thompson called it "A strange and brilliant story by an important American writer," and it was reissued in a new, updated edition by Angel City Press in May, 2008, with a foreword by T. Jefferson Parker and a preface by Charles Bowden. The conclusion of a ten-year journey, the book explores the brutal murders of two young girls in a scenic Southern California military town by a Marine shortly after the Gulf War. The desert is a main character in the story, as it often is in Deanne's work. Her latest book, Mustang, was also ten years in the making, taking her deep into historical archives and across the wild horse ranges of the West, particularly Nevada, where most of the country's mustangs still roam. In it, she explores various questions, including why America, a cowboy nation, has turned its back on the wild horse, our great partner and icon.
Mustang was an LA Times "best book 08," won the California Book Award silver medal for nonfiction, and was praised in the Atlantic Monthly, Economist, NPR's On Point, Orion, Seattle Times, Santa Fe New Mexican, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Kirkus, PW, and many other publications. It has brought many into the campaign for wild horse and burro preservation, has been presented to President Obama as an important book to read about wild horses and American history, has helped raise funds for rescue organizations, and has led to the rescue of many horses headed to the slaughterhouse. It is currently under option, in part, for a film starring Wendie Malick, and it recently inspired the exciting new alt-country duo Granville Automatic to write and record three songs for its debut CD, including "Comanche" and "Blood and Gold."
In addition, Deanne's work appears in many publications, including the New York Times (Magazine, Book Review, Arts & Leisure, Travel); The Los Angeles Times (Magazine, Calendar, and Book Review); Orion; Slate; Salon; Tin House, Gwarlingo, truthdig ("Letter from the West" column) and elsewhere. Excerpts from her books and various essays, columns, and reports are archived on byliner. Her work is widely anthologized, and her plays have been produced and won prizes in festivals around the country. She has also written for film and television, having penned an adaptation of Twentynine Palms for Tristar, and written for such network series as "Square Pegs" and "A Different World."
Originally from Ohio, Deanne has long been torn between two lovers, as she recently wrote about in this essay on the rumpus. For a while, she consorted with her first, New York. Then, she decided to explore the West Coast, whereupon she took up with Los Angeles and the beach and the desert and all that the sand has to offer. Possibly the longest-running affair in town, it has continued for eighteen years, through fire, earthquake, and the thundering silence of phone calls gone unreturned. "I'll never be the first to leave," Deanne says, although she often cheats on LA with New Mexico and Arizona.