Well, we seem to have dealt from a short deck. Maybe the dealer held back 4 aces, or maybe 4 youngsters have each clipped a playing card to the front forks of their Schwinns to make their spokes sing. Whatever, “52 Pickup” started almost a year ago as a weekly Q&A, with Longmire creator Craig Johnson graciously rewarding us with regular insightful feedback in answer to your need to know. It’s been a special interaction, one that has been imitated but certainly never duplicated. We are eternally grateful to Craig for sharing this unique backstage pass to the Longmire literary universe. As the great philosopher George Harrison said, “All (good) things must pass”, and so we wrap up the series with a special 3-for-1 serving. Enjoy, and keep a lookout for the next chapter…
Question #48 4/09/19
“Mr. Johnson- what gets your motor running? I understand that writing is a huge part of your life but what other things keep your life passion alive?”
I like building things. I built my ranch and now my wife’s got a store in Buffalo, The Bucking Buffalo Supply Company, and I’ve got a cabin up on the mountain that keeps me busy and out of her hair at least one day a week. I like taking things apart and putting them back together, which keeps the antiquated machinery around the place running.
Reading. I love reading good writing that makes me envious as hell, writers that make me want to throw their books in the fire they’re that good—but I don’t. I just shake my head and quietly place them back on the shelf when I’m done and keep them there as goalposts to help me raise the bar in my own writing.
Getting out. Whether it’s walking the dog here on the ranch, going for a ride, or heading up the mountain, a great deal of my soul-searching takes place when I’m alone in the wilderness, admiring the incredible place where I’m lucky enough to live.
Curiosity. I think you have to be curious about everything–it’s what keeps you alive. When you reach the point in your life where you think you know it all, I can’t help but think that it’s a slow crawl to pulling up the turf and pushing up daisies. I think you have to stay engaged with people, their lives, history, culture, art, music, all the things that are lifelong pursuit. Education isn’t a goal, it’s a quest that never ends. Fortunately, I’ve got an outlet for all that research or I’d be one of those guys at the donut shop sitting around telling everybody what they know… Or maybe I’m there already.
“Are you still enjoying writing Longmire books or is there something new on the horizon?”
I do still enjoy writing the Longmire books, otherwise I’d give them up. Being with a literary press like Viking/Penguin, I get to do pretty much whatever I want with the novels. They don’t lean on me or try and get me to fit some type of formula and with that kind of freedom comes a great deal of personal creative expression. There’s a part in Next To Last Stand (Viking 2020) where Walt gets into an argument over the death of Van Gogh, stating that he was murdered and making a very strong case. Now, how often do you get to write a scene like that with a Wyoming sheriff? I’ll continue to write Walt as long as he holds my interest, and he’s shown no sign of boring me to date.
As to things on the horizon, the Walt book for September 17th, 2019 is Land Of Wolves and as stated above, Next To Last Stand is the novel for September of 2020. In the meantime, I’m working on another Longmire novella and there are a couple of TV and film projects that have gotten traction that I’m writing that’ll probably have tie-in novels attached to them.
“ What have you not been asked that you would like to share with us?”
It might sound trite, but I never get enough time to say thanks to the readers as much as they deserve–whether it’s the die-hards who have been with me back when I first started writing or the folks who wrote me today to say they’d just discovered the books. Without you guys this wonderful opportunity wouldn’t exist and I don’t know what I’d be doing, but I do know it wouldn’t be anything near so satisfying as writing about Absaroka County and Walt Longmire and friends.
When I come off my loft where I write almost every day for about eight hours, there’s a Cheyenne dance stick with a fringe that I touch, almost as if I’m touching fingertips with the characters and readers at the end of the day. I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything.
All the best,