Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Craig Johnson: Guest Post

Craig Johnson will be our guest at a Literary Salon this Sunday, June 19, at 7 p.m. in Berkeley. I'm thrilled that his latest Walt Longmire mystery, Hell is Empty, just hit the NYT Best Seller List. Craig sent out a note this morning about it to all his fans, and I was among them. I asked Craig if I could post this here on Mystery Fanfare. Of course, he said!

Please join us on June 19 in Berkeley, CA. RSVP for directions.


Go figure.

When I was writing Hell is Empty, the latest Walt Longmire mystery, an allegorical thriller fraught with Dante and Indian mysticism, it dawned on me that this might not be the most sales-successful book of the series… Don’t get me wrong, I don’t write these novels with the idea of them becoming bestsellers (well, a little, of course, because I love writing them and wouldn’t be able to if they didn’t sell at all). My trusting publisher adds to my enjoyment by granting me freedoms that I don’t think many other authors have; my contract boils down to one sentence--It must be a mystery novel and have Walt Longmire in it. Well, that pretty much leaves things up for grabs, doesn’t it?

The other freedom comes from you—the reader. I’ve always said that I’d rather anger you folks by doing something different with each novel rather than insult your intelligence by writing the same book over and over again, a syndrome not unknown in genre fiction. Again, I’m not completely altruistic in the sense that I’m pretty sure I’d get bored writing formulaic books, too.

There have only been a couple of soreheads who wrote me back and gave me questionable, on-line reviews over the years, the curious thing being that they keep reading and reviewing me—what’s up with that? Most of you, especially if you’re on this newsletter mailing list, have ridden along with the sheriff and put up with my shenanigans with enthusiasm. Every once in a while we’d look back and see that there appeared to be more of us in the saddle, which was fine because we enjoy company and the more the merrier. Well, it would appear that there’s a passel to the posse these days.

Go figure.

When I started a string of novels that took place in the least populated county in the least populated state in the U.S., I kind of figured the following for such a series might be relatively limited. But I always remember a piece of advice Tony Hillerman gave me when I first met him, “Follow your heart and write what you enjoy.”

So I continued to write about a sadder but wiser sheriff, a detective for the disenfranchised, a little over-aged, a little over-weight, but with a considerable amount of miles left in him. It would appear that there are a lot of us out there like that, folks who look at themselves in the mirror every morning and aren’t completely satisfied with what they see—but we try, and in that there’s a certain, worn-to-perfection dignity.

People ask me sometimes if I suspected, with the awards, foreign sales and TV stuff, if I ever thought the books would be as popular as they’ve become—and the honest answer is no, I didn’t. But there’s a group of people that seemed to have held an absolute certainty that they would be a success. You.
This Post-It is a little different from all the others, a thank you note to the thousands of people who thought that a beat-up ol’ sheriff with a sense of humor, his Cheyenne buddy, and a smart-mouthed deputy up on the high plains might be worth giving a read.

Hell is Empty hit #24 this week on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Go figure.

See you on the trail (see below)

PS: Hell may be empty, but the shelves are full; if you haven’t gotten out there and grabbed your copy, jump on it!
June 14, Booked for Murder, Madison, WI, 6 PM
June 15, Once Upon a Crime, Minneapolis, MN, 7 PM
June 16, Book People, Austin, TX, 7 PM
June 17, Poisoned Pen, Phoenix, AZ, 7 PM
June 18, M is for Mystery, San Mateo, CA, 2 PM
June 19, Literary Salon, Berkeley, CA 7 p.m. Private Location. RSVP: for more information and directions
June 20, Viking Rep Dinner (private event)
June 21, Boulder Bookstore, 12:30 PM, lunch stock signing
June 21, Tattered Cover (Colfax), Denver, CO, 7:30 PM
June 22, Murder by the Book, Denver, CO, Noon
June 22, High Crimes, Longmont, CO, 7 PM
June 23-26, Jackson Writer’s Conference, Jackson, WY
June 28, Red Lodge Books, Red Lodge, MT, 4:00 PM
June 29, Fact and Fiction, Missoula, MT, 7:00 PM
July 1, Seattle Mystery Book Shop, Seattle, WA, Noon
July 1, Whodunit Books, Olympia, WA, 7 PM
July 2, Murder by the Book, Portland, OR, Noon
July 2, Powell’s Books (Cedar Hills Crossing), Beaverton, OR, 4 PM
July 3, Sun River Books, Sun River, OR, 5 PM
July 4, Sun River Books, Sun River, OR, private party
July 5, Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, OR, 4 PM
July 5, Paulina Springs Books, Redmond, OR, 7 PM
July 6, Rediscovered Books, Boise, ID, 7 PM
July 7, The King’s English Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 7 PM
July 8, Main Street Books, Lander, WY, 6 PM
July 9, Powell Library, Powell, WY, Noon
July 9, Cody Newstand, Cody, WY, 2 PM
July 9, Cowboy Bar, Meeteetse, WY, 7 PM
July 10, Cody Library, Cody, WY, 1:30 PM

What, you want more..? Gettaoutahere.

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