Saturday, July 18, 2009

Craig Johnson: Cowboy, Raconteur, One Helluva Writer

We were lucky to have Craig Johnson and his wife Judy here yesterday for an At Home (literary salon) while they were in town for the Book Passage Writers' Conference. What an afternoon! Wyoming writer Craig Johnson, the author of The Cold Dish, Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpublished, Another Man's Moccasins and The Dark Horse, regaled us with stories about himself and his writing. He's an absolutely fabulous raconteur--so very entertaining and informative--on so many topics. He discussed writing, publishing and his own life and many other things.

The Cold Dish was a Dilys Award Nominee and was translated into French in 2009 as Little Bird (yes, English, it's a name) and was just named one of the top ten mysteries of the year by Lire Magazine. Death Without Company was selected by Booklist as one of the top-ten mysteries of 2006, won the Wyoming Historical Society's fiction book of the year. Another Man's Moccasins was the recipient of Western Writer's of America's Spur Award as Novel of the Year and the Mountains and Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series has received starred reviews by all four prepublication review services, the only novel so far this year to receive that honor.

O.K. so there's the press, and it just emphasizes what I know--that he's a great writer and deserving of the awards and press. Johnson gave many insights into his writing. His main character Walt Longmire, Sheriff of Absaroka County, doesn't age much from book to book and since the books come out every year, we know in 'real' time what's going on with Walt and the supporting characters. I really like this since I so often wonder what happened in the 'unwritten' years to so many characters in other series novels. Johnson's books also are written through the seasons, each book a different season. Johnson intends to keep this continuum. Johnson's supporting characters return in the books with varying importance, and its the development of these characters and Walt that connect so many people with his books.

Johnson also talked about his experiences with the local Sheriff of his county in Wyoming and how he vets his books for discrepancies. I've learned a lot about Wyoming from the books, and even more from yesterday's talk.

Don't want to say too much else about the books or his writing at this time, because Craig Johnson is soon to be featured on our At Home Online. Stay tuned. Johnson will be interviewing William Kent Krueger At Home Online on the Mystery Readers website. Craig Johnson, in turn, will be interviewed by another terrific writer.


Corey Wilde said...

Couldn't agree more, Johnson is a helluva writer.

Vallery Feldman said...

It was a wonderful afternoon with Craig and his wife. We didn't need to ask questions. He is able to speak without any prodding.I really liked that he is so enthusiastic about the act of writing. Maybe he can pass on some of that.