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Events

Author of 'Longmire' novels visits CSU

November 29, 2012
by Kayla Green

Award-winning novelist and New York Times Bestselling author Craig Johnson will visit Colorado State University's Bookstore at noon Tuesday, Dec. 4 to discuss his newest Longmire book, As the Crow Flies.

The Longmire novels, comprised of eight books, are the inspiration for A&E’s series, Longmire, a crime thriller set in Big Sky country. A book signing will follow the event, which is free and open to the public.

While on tour, Johnson took the time out to answer a few questions via email for Today@ColoradoState:

What inspired you to become an author?

My education is in writing but I come from a family of story tellers, and I guess it was just a question of switching from telling to writing and not letting that get in the way of a good story. I write in first person so that there is immediacy to the narrative. It is as though you were in the Busy Bee Café in Absaroka County, Wyoming, and Sheriff Walt Longmire has just sat down on the stool beside you and has started telling you about what happened to him last month. I like telling a good story, but I think it’s also important to have something to say; I think the time when people were satisfied with simple whodunits or western oaters is pretty much over—readers expect a great deal more from a novel--social commentary, humor, history, fully-developed characters, arc of story… And they want to know who the heck did it.

What do you enjoy most about writing and being a writer?

My ranch in Wyoming is near a town called Ucross with a population of 25, so there’s a lot of peace and quiet in what I do—but I like dealing with contemporary issues, the kind of things that a western sheriff actually faces. I think the challenge of writing in two genres that are over-ridden with stereotypes and clichés, is to attempt to see people as they truly are and make them fully dimensional for the reader is one of the most enjoyable things I get to do. I enjoy making my characters fully dimensional; I also enjoy meeting my readers and talking to them about the books and getting their feedback, but maybe that’s just because the other 24 people in Ucross are tired of talking to me.

Where did the inspiration for Sherriff Walt Longmire come from?

In the beginning of my first novel, The Cold Dish, a young, Northern Cheyenne woman is taken into a basement and abused by four boys in the town adjoining the reservation; after these young men are acquitted someone begins killing them off one by one with a Sharpe’s Buffalo Rifle and it became this sheriff’s job to stop whomever it was that were committing these murders. The sheriff’s best friend is Cheyenne and as the book develops, it becomes clear that Henry Standing Bear might be the murderer. It became a novel about whether their friendship could withstand the weight of their two separate societies. I guess that’s where the inspiration for both of these characters came from—a horizontal landscape with two men in opposition to their surroundings, and at times, each other.

Can you tell me a bit about what it’s like to have your novels turned into a series and what that’s been like for you as an author?

Strange, really strange, but wonderful… Kind of like having a plant in your home for eight years and then waking up one morning and having it talk to you. The producers, Warner Brothers, and A&E have been great to work with and it’s been very different than what a lot of other authors told me it would be like—they didn’t write me a check and dismiss me but rather include me in the process, sending me the synopsis for each episode to go over, the episodes themselves, even to the point where they sent me DVD’s of the auditions for the actors they were thinking of casting. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the cast and crew, and all I can tell you is never play poker with Lou Diamond Phillips.