52 Pickup 2.0, #15, 4/14/20
Terry Anastassiou: “Forgive me if someone has asked this before. I have some small understanding of what happened to Walt’s grandfather, but will we ever know more about what happened to his mom and dad?”
Since it’s Easter weekend, I thought this one was appropriate.
Family situations are usually complex, and the Longmire family is no different than most. When I was writing the first book in the series, I included a portion with some of the familial background, but that got cut in the epic editing that removed about two hundred pages from the original manuscript. To be honest, I’m glad it was. I think that Walt’s family history is too important to be tossed out in a nominal paragraph and better served in being metered out over the entire series. Family makes us, and I don’t want to treat that aspect of my character too lightly.
I’ve included scenes with Walt’s mother probably the most, and only in the last novel, Land Of Wolves, finally got around to introducing a more informed portrayal of Walt’s father. Both of these characters are based on my own parents, and the number of stories I have featuring them will probably take me another twenty books to fully accommodate. It was Dry Bones that introduced the conflict of wills between Walt and his grandfather, and once again, I drew from personal experience to develop that story line that, yes, will be reintroduced in a novel of its own.
In the book I’m working on now, there is even a portion where Walt’s great-grandfather is mentioned, and that’s another story I’m hoping to write, even if it’s not a portion of the Walt Longmire timeline.
Personal experiences can’t help but disseminate into the writing if you’re pursuing a truth, private or universal, which reminds me of an Easter story from my own past that I’d forgotten up to now.
One Easter when I was about six years old, my mother had bought me a pair of black dress shoes to wear for services at the Methodist church we attended, tired of the battered cowboy boots I consistently wore. We had argued for a week, but Easter morning my father said that he had had enough of it and to go put the shoes on. I’d done as he said and then started back for the kitchen where they sat. Then I stopped. The house was an old one that had two heating grates with furnaces under the floor and the screening on the things got extremely hot. We avoided the things like lava-pits in the hallway.
Without a second thought, I stepped both feet out onto the grate and stood there.
After a while, I could hear my mother and father’s conversation turning to something else—what was that horrible smell?
I still remember seeing my father turning in his chair and leaning back to look down the hallway and seeing his son standing on the heating grate, the steam spiraling up from the new shoes as they melted into the furnace.
Leaping up, he ran the length of the house, swooping me from the grate and carrying me down the hallway where we both fell. Raising up, we both looked back at the shoes still smoldering on the grate. I wasn’t popular that particular Easter morning, but I did get to wear my cowboy boots to church.
My wife says I haven’t changed much, but then neither has Walt.