Question #18, 9/11/18
Michael K Crutchley:
“Why is the weather so important in all (or most of) the books? I feel as if the weather is almost another character.”
The weather plays a pretty important aspect in all our lives–I’m commenting as I sit here in Seattle watching the approach of a hurricane that looks as if it’s going to knock out my appearances in North Carolina next week… Let’s hope that’s all it knocks out.
The same goes for the Longmire novels in that I’ve always written the books with a seasonal quartet in mind, something of a Vivaldi, if you would, July being nothing like January in Wyoming or anywhere else for that matter. It was time for the winter book and with a title like Depth Of Winter, you’d think it’d be something of a frozen wasteland.
I get emails from people remarking on the amount of snow in my books, and I have to remind them that I don’t live in Key West—Depth Of Winter is a departure from that, giving the readers something of a curveball. The title comes from the Albert Camus quote: “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Besides the obvious, the quote deals with Walt’s attempts to retain his humanity in the face of the horrific violence and madness of the drug cartels.
I guess the weather in this particular book reflects the condition of the characters and new characters at that, but with readers preparing for another novel choked with snow I thought instead we should get a hundred degrees in the deserts of northern Mexico. I guess a certain amount of my writing style is in response to reader’s expectations and trying to find a way to surprise them and not be formulaic—even with the weather.
It was interesting describing the deserts of the south, and Walt surprised me by reacting to it in a positive sense. I think it’s important to stretch yourself as a writer and try new things but making the weather a character is never much of a challenge. I guess living in Wyoming, where you have to keep an eye on the skies or they can take your life, it will have an effect whether you like it or not.
I guess that’s the thing about the American West, the place where I live and write about, it’s never been about inside. I’ve referred to the ability of the Wyoming horizon to pull at the corners of your eyes till they hurt, or the magnificence of the thick part of the Milky Way Galaxy as it arcs across the western sky at night, a shimmering bridge the owls use to go back and forth from the Camp of the Dead.
How do you leave those things out?