Craig Allen Johnson Comes to Town

World Famous Author Mobbed by Rabid Fans
Forced at Book Point to Trade Hat for Tacky T-Shirt!

It wasn’t really a dark and stormy night. It was dark and raining, but the thunder and lightening show didn’t start until after we were home and in bed. What it was was June 8th, and Mary, Deb, Chris. B. and I arrived at the library headquarters at 6:20 pm, ready to hear Craig Allen Johnson’s talk about his newest book, Junkyard Dogs. .We found four seats in the front row, and settled in to wait for 7:00 pm and the start of the show. Deb bought a copy of Junkyard Dog for herself and one for Nancy, and Mary got one copy. I sat and stared at the podium with the mike all set up ready for the big man. It was 7:01pm, and he was late.

Then this big voice rang out from the back of the room, “What if this guy is no good?” and striding up the aisle shedding his jacket, briefcase and Stetson came the world famous author himself. We all started clapping, and he was grinning and everyone was very happy with themselves. He settled himself on the table, while the library lady made the introduction and turned the show over to him. He told her he wouldn’t use the microphone because he had a habit of talking so loudly it broke the sound system. Then he proved his point by casting his voice to the back of the room with no problem at all. I think he must have spent some time calling hogs while he was growing up in West Virginia. His voice do carry just fine. He told a little about himself and his home in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25, only at the moment the population was 23 since his wife, Judy, had come with him on his big 53 stop book tour.

Just in case anyone hadn’t read all six of his books ahead of time, he explained how he had come to write The Cold Dish, and we enjoyed very much hearing about how he had come up with the story line and managed to take 9 years to write the first two chapters and then finished the book the tenth year. We heard about his friendship with the county sheriff of Johnson county, who checked the manuscript over to make sure he didn’t make procedural errors in describing the duties of the sheriff’s department. He also explained that his friend, Marcus, was the principle model for Henry Standing Bear. To the delight of the audience he explained that he based his characters on real people he knew, and even used their real names. The legal department of his publishing house was in an uproar. They just knew anyone who had been named in the book would be suing for damages. But Craig just called up everyone and asked if they had a problem with being in his book. Of course, they all said don’t take my name out. I am going to buy lots of copies and give them to my relatives to show them I am really in a book.

After The Cold Dish was published and selling well, the publisher asked about his plans for more Walt Longmire books. Craig said he thought The Cold Dish was a stand alone book, and he wanted to write about other topics. The publisher said we want more mysteries with Walt Longmire. So Craig decided to take their advice, and now he is having a great time developing more aspects of Longmire and Absaroka county and environs. He went on to talk about how he had come up with plots for the other five books and then spent a half hour or so answering questions from the mob. Mary told him how much she enjoyed his descriptions of the landscape in all its variations. He told us that the next book already has the 1st draft finished and will be on the stands next spring. Then everyone stood in line to have their books autographed except the four of us.

Barb steals Craig's hat

We just sat in the front row and waited til the crowd dwindled down, then we surged up to the table, and I put the package with his Rainer t-shirt on the table. It was beautifully wrapped by Deb, in a big horse poster donated by Linda. He started to open it and then asked if it was safe to reach inside. I guaranteed him he would like the present, so he hauled out the t-shirt, and when he saw what it was, he started laughing. I explained that I had promised him a six pack of Rainer, but when I found we couldn’t buy it here, I got him the next best thing. He loved it. He draped it over his shirt, put his hat on me and Chris took a picture of us together to celebrate. We all introduced ourselves and invited him to come to a meeting if he ever hit town when he wasn’t on such a tight schedule. We told him how much we liked his books and how great it was to hear him speak about them.

Then everyone packed up and headed home. We were all as tired as if we had done some very hard work, but everyone kept saying how great the evening had been, and wasn’t it wonderful. Next Tuesday, Jeffrey Deaver will be at the library giving a talk, and we talked about trying to go to that and decided it just wouldn’t be as much fun. We liked the Deaver books we have read, but he doesn’t live in Wyoming, or wear cowboy boots, or laugh out loud when talking to folks. I am pretty sure, even if Deaver has a good time, he won’t enjoy himself as much as Craig did while meeting a bunch of strangers and Omnivores. We had a great time ourselves.


5 Responses

  1. There ya go, Barb. Let me know if you want it in a different place.

    • It’s just perfect. Thanks so much.


  2. I wish I had been able to make it. Sounds like it was quite a successful night. I’m glad you all had a great time.

    • You were missed. He was a hoot. Will you be able to make it to John and Nancy’s meeting June 26th? We would love to be able to see you.


  3. I hope to make it. I still have Deb’s book, Talking About Detective Fiction, by PD James and have to get it back to her. Plus I miss you all. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get a chance to read this month’s book.

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