52 Pickup 2.0, #31, 7/28/2020

“If he’s got any give in him, ain’t nobody found it yet.” – Lucian Connally

Tom Lowe- “Where did Walt’s tendency to run into danger come from Vietnam or from his youth?”
Hi Tom,

I’m sure Vietnam and the Marine Corps helped, but I think Walt’s tendencies go further back than that. A lot of it has to do with Walt’s innate sense of justice that was handed down from his parents. Walt’s ethical compass is pretty unerring, but it can get him into trouble sometimes, as it can with all of us. I guess the books wouldn’t be very entertaining if I didn’t allow the good sheriff to get into trouble every once in a while.

I remember at a very young age my father told me there were two things you should never be afraid of and that’s a hard day’s work and an ass-whipping. I’ve had both and have to admit that neither are really all that bad.

I sometimes make the comparison that writers are like cops–if everybody is running in one direction, you need to be running in the other. With writers, I use the analogy to point out that if you try and write what’s selling, you’ve already missed the boat—but with police officers it’s another thing.

You can be trained, but I think a lot of it is instinct. In a civilized society, we’re fortunate enough to be insulated from true violence by a system of courts and law-enforcement. There’s a telling statement that’s often credited to Winston Churchill, but actually came from George Orwell, who had his own experiences with violence in the Spanish Civil War— “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

I think that says a lot about Walt. I don’t think he takes acts of violence lightly, but in defense of the defenseless, he can be somewhat formidable.

For me, I guess it’s a game of investment, what’s at stake here?
There’s a part in one of the books where Vic refers to Walt as a Detective for the Disenfranchised, and I think she’s pretty much spot on–the sheriff speaks for those who can’t speak for themselves. There’s a reason for that. When you start out, you have to find the key to not only your writing but yourself. It’s quite an endeavor to attempt writing a book and even more so, a series. You need to find a fuel that will carry you through and for me that’s always been injustice.

There isn’t much that gets me riled up as much as an unfair situation, or an individual or group who takes advantage of people, and I think Walt is my answer to that. In a chaos ridden universe, Walt is my leveler who makes sure that at least in Absaroka County there is no sliding scale of justice; that everybody is going to get a fair deal.

I think that’s a lot of the reason people read the books, in hopes that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I put Walt in some pretty dire situations, and I don’t back away from the violence and mayhem that’s a part of his job, but I do value justice and doing the right thing and that’s manifested in Walt pretty deeply.

He doesn’t always win, but he’ll always be there fighting for the people who can’t fight for themselves, he has to—it’s his job.

See you on the trail,


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