More accurately, I met Sheriff Walt Longmire’s creator.
My local independent bookstore hosted Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire Mystery series, during his recent tour to promote his new release. I’ve never missed an episode of Longmire on A&E and wanted to meet the man whose creative genius brought Sheriff Walt Longmire, Deputies Victoria Moretti and Branch Connolly, and Walt’s lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear to life. The characters seem so real they’re like neighbors you’d want at your backyard beer bash. If you haven’t discovered Longmire, the modern-day cowboy detective of Absaroca County, Wyoming, do yourself a favor and add the series to your reading and TV lists.
About 100 fans gathered at Chester County Books to hear Craig Johnson discuss Longmire and learn about his role on the television show. I found it both interesting and reassuring that Johnson maintains some creative control of each episode in the series. I’ve met other authors whose books have been turned into hugely successful TV shows, and they said they hardly recognized their characters or stories. Johnson reads every script line by line before production and has a voice in the story outcome. I’m convinced that’s why the show has remained true to his characters.
Here are some fun facts Johnson mentioned during the book chat:
- Craig Johnson and his wife Judy live in Ucross, Wyoming; population 25. (Yes, you read that right. Twenty-five.)
- Although episodes of Longmire have been based on Walt Longmire mystery novels, the endings have been changed so that readers and TV viewers can enjoy a crossover experience. Readers of the series will discover that murder suspects in the books are not the same suspects in the TV shows. This approach keeps the stories fresh and eliminates spoilers.
- Longmire is A&E’s most successful television series to date.
- Craig Johnson received a Master’s Degree from Temple University. That connection is the reason he travels to Pennsylvania during book tours. (Yay, for us!) His Philadelphia roots are also behind the creation of his character Vic Moretti, a Philly native and former member of the Philadelphia police force.
- Walt Longmire is surrounded by women he depends upon. His dispatcher Ruby keeps his office running smoothly. Daughter Cady rules his heart. The memory of his murdered wife, Martha, fuels his motivation. His deputy Vic Moretti is his alter-ego. Vic is tough, urban, and rough edged; while Walt is tough, country, and big-hearted. Johnson said (paraphrase), “If you were speeding down a highway in Absaroca County, you’d want Walt, not Vic, to give you a ticket.” (As an aside, I should mention that recent episodes hinted at an attraction between Walt and Vic, but neither character acted on that attraction. When thousands of Longmire Facebook fans were asked if Walt and Vic should get together, they responded with a resounding NO!)
- Johnson said he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll write scripts for Longmire.
Let’s hope Craig Johnson writes lots more books, and that Longmire lasts for years, with compelling stories about the characters from Absaroca County.