Monday, June 4, 2012

Guest Blogger Craig Johnson

Our faithful guest blogger, Steve, sent me this post by his favorite author, Craig Johnson.  So, what we have here is a Guest Blogger's Guest Blogger's post.  I don't even know if it's leagal to reproduce this, but really, would Mr. Johnson object to the publicity?  Read on....and watch the series if you can.  For some reason, westerns are hot again.  Lots o new books piopping with western themes, and many of them are geared to female readers.  Hmmmm....

This Sunday, June 3rd, the first of ten episodes of Longmire will debut on A&E at 10pm EDT, and I’m just hoping I can watch it. Having your books turned into a television series is pretty weird, and the only way I can describe the experience is that it’s something like having a houseplant in your house for eight years and suddenly having it start talking to you one morning--wondrous, but weird.

The weirdness started when I walked on the set and saw the county designation 24 on the Wyoming license plates for the fictitious, Absaroka County (Wyoming has only 23 counties). Later, I was having a hard time concentrating on what Robert Taylor, the actor who plays Walt, was saying in the back of the sheriff’s cabin in the Bandolier National Forest above Los Alamos on the first day of shooting. I kept staring at the elk horn handles on Walt’s .45 Colt just like the ones my buddy Richard Rhoades (the model for Omar) had made for me, and the Ray-Ban sunglasses like the ones I’ve worn my whole life. I was finally aware that Robert had been talking to me for about ten minutes, describing to me the innermost aspects of the sheriff’s character. He paused and laughed at himself, “I can’t believe I’m standing here telling you about Walt Longmire.”

The Longmire novels are written in first-person, which means that the sheriff is never very far from my thoughts or narrative. I tend to refer to Walt as a detective for the disenfranchised, a man whose secret weapon is his compassion for the less fortunate or forgotten members of society. I think he has an empathy for the outsiders because, in a sense, he’s one himself; a rogue male somewhat driven off from the herd, even if it is a self-imposed exile. Another thing I like about him is his ability to surprise me. I was talking to Greer Shephard, the producer of the A&E series based on the books, and she asked me if I thought of Walt as being a verbose person and I said yes. She told me to go through one of my books and highlight his dialogue, what he actually says… She was right; he thinks a great deal but doesn’t say much—it was a genuine revelation.

Robert got called onto the porch where they were shooting the scene with Cassidy Freeman, who plays Cady, Walt’s daughter. They ran the lines a few times and then started filming the scene where Cady gently rakes him over the coals for not doing something with the tea tin that contains her mother’s ashes, “Dad, people want to know where they can go to pay their respects, and I can’t tell them to go stand in front of the refrigerator.” There I was watching the first scene of the television show adapted from my books being filmed. Then something strange happened. My eyes started welling up, and I had to turn away and walk off the set. There was something about watching these characters, these people I’d created, going about their lives and discussing the innermost workings of their hearts that hit me like a war lance. I went up on the hillside and just stood there breathing. I’m hoping to do better come Sunday night.

he TV Tie-In paperback of The Cold Dish is on the stands for a limited time, so if you’re a real collector of Absarokania get out to a book store  and get yours! And they make great starter-kits for friends and family who might not know that the A&E drama is from the award-winning and best-selling novels by your truly! Also, if you’re looking to buy the Absaroka County hats, mugs, and bumper stickers remember that you can throw Jen an email at to get the wheels slowly turning…