#7, “Walt & Not-Walt”

26 Pickup, the Half-Ton

I’m consistently surprised at the things you have and don’t have in common with your character Walt Longmire. I know Walt doesn’t like motorcycle, but you have several. Walt doesn’t have a cell phone, but I’ve seen photos of you with one. Walt doesn’t like donuts, but you’ve professed a love of them—how do you decide where you and Walt are the same and where you part company?
-Vera Skordos

Hi Vera,

I’m never confused about whether or not I’m Walt—I’m not. He has a very different background than I do, and I want to treat him with a respect that reflects that. First off, Walt is older and has led a very different life so his views on things would probably be different, but then some of the things involved are simple mechanics. I’ll start at the top…

Walt has spent the majority of his life in law-enforcement which includes a lot of traffic work and that means motorcycle accidents. Being as close as we are to Sturgis, we see a lot of accidents, some of them horrific. I think that would have an effect on Walt’s attitude toward motorcycles. I like to go fast, but I don’t think Walt does… There are a lot of things I’ve done in my life that could be branded as thrill-seeking such as car racing, motorcycles, rodeo, mountaineering, but I don’t think Walt would particularly approve of any of those things—he has enough drama in his life.

Cell phones are easy in that I consider them a necessary evil in the world, but talk to me when I’m filming my Facebook Thirty Seconds Of Zen up on the mountain or trying to pick somebody up at the airport. Most of the time they are useless in Wyoming because there’s no service, and more importantly they can be used as a crutch in the writing of a novel where it’s just too easy to pull out your phone and get answers—I’d rather have Walt knock on a door and actually talk to someone, there’s just so much more there. That having been said, mine lays on the windowsill in our bedroom here at the ranch and dies a slow battery death so that every time I pick it up, I have to charge it. I also get about eighty-seven messages every time I take it into town.

I remember in The Cold Dish, when I introduced Walt at a crime scene, I thought it would be funny if he was a cop and went against type in not liking donuts. He’s an older guy and has to keep an eye on his waistline, so I can see him avoiding the things. I remember reading about Robert DeNiro gaining weight for Raging Bull and saying to put on the requisite eighty-some-pounds he just ate donuts… Big deal, I do that every winter.

It’s interesting, but I think it sometimes slips the mind of readers that I’m not just representative of Walt but also of all the other characters in the books like Henry, Vic, Lucian, and even Dog. As my friend James Crumley used to say, “Hell, I’m the only one in the room.”

See you on the trail,

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