#6, “The Long Haul”

26 Pickup, The Half-ton

You’ve said on multiple occasions that you plant characters or quick references that are seemingly random in your books and that allows you to build the story arc for the next or another book in the series. Just how many more books do you have in you? I believe we’re about 4 years into Walt’s life, so I do anticipate many more. Sorry for being selfish and possibly adding to the reason your hands will continue to cramp up, but Walt is a joy to read and to aspire to be more like. Thank you.
-Jason Dildine

Hi Jason,

One of my greatest concerns about writing is brought home every time I’m in a used bookstore and run onto a book series or authors who are hugely popular in their time—and I’ve never heard of them. It’s kind of humbling to see these National Book Award/New York Times Bestsellers that have fallen along the way. I know that tastes change and sometimes I pick up those books and it becomes abundantly clear as to why nobody is reading them anymore… It’s tough to be Shakespeare.

As an author, you like to think that your books will continue to be read after you’re gone, but I think the only thing that guarantees such a thing is the advice that Katherine Court, my editor and president of Penguin gave me when I first got started—write good books.

I’ve lived by that maxim my entire career, looking at the series as a whole. Nobody likes to look toward the end and calculate how much time you have to complete your life’s work, but I think as an author that it’s necessary. Even though I like to think of each novel as an independent entity, they’re also a part of a larger work as a whole. I’m a big believer in planting seeds in my books that give indications as to future plot points because that’s the way life is. Each day isn’t an event unto itself, but rather a portion of a tapestry that interweaves with all the other days of your life to form an existence. I know I’m getting a little philosophical here, but that’s how I view the novels as having threads that reach both backward and forward.

I love it when readers pick up on the little details in the books, when someone notices Walt studying Cassilly Adam’s Custer’s Last Fight in the book before Next To Last Stand, or that Walt has burns on his hands from Mustard gas immediately following his time on Johnston Atoll, a story we haven’t heard…yet.

That having been said, am I going to get all the Walt Longmire books written that I want to? Probably not, but I have great hopes. I figure I’ve got at least another thirty years of writing in me, which means Walt (with the four years equals one year in Walt’s life, or as I like to refer to it “Longmire Years”) has another eight years to go… Does that mean I’m going to kill him off? I don’t think so, but there’s always that possibility with every book or it’s something of a cheat. Doing what Walt does, it’s a given that any day he might pin the badge on and holster his sidearm and not come back that night–it’s a grim fact that law enforcement faces all the time.

But my money is on Walt.

See you on the trail,

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