Author Craig Johnson pleases crowd at Main Street Books

Craig Johnson read from “As the Crow Flies.” (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Lander, Wyo.) – Wyoming author Craig Johnson gave a reading and book signing of his Walt Longmire series Thursday evening at Main Street Books in Lander.

In an interview before the reading, Johnson said he never imagined his work would lead to eight books and a cable television show on A&E.

“I was writing books about the least populated state and the least populated county,” he said. “I did not expect that Hollywood would come a-knockin’.”

His novels are set in the fictional Absaroka County, or county 24. Special Wyoming license plates were made for the new show, “Longmire,” and Johnson said he has a pair of them sitting on his writing desk.

More than 50 people attended the event, where Johnson served up a reading of his latest novel, “As the Crow Flies,” and then fielded questions from the audience.

“It’s good to be back,” Johnson told the crowded store. “Nice to see you all again.”

He said it’s been a “wild ride” since he last visited Lander.

“I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out,” he said.

Johnson spent much of the evening discussing the show, the first season of which ended in August.

The team behind the show keeps him involved, and he has the title Executive Creative Consultant.

Writers send him a synopsis and copies of the script. Johnson then sends his comments, thoughts and corrections about Wyoming geography and culture.

One audience member asked him if it bothered him that the show is shot in New Mexico and not Wyoming.

Johnson explained that New Mexico’s film commission has access to sound stages and equipment that make filming there more efficient.

“I’ve been in contact with the Wyoming Film Commission a lot the last couple months,” he noted.

Johnson told stories of where he gets ideas for his books, getting to help pick actors for the show and using real people as the basis for his characters.

He also informed the audience that he’s working on a novella, titled “The Ballad of Steamboat,” which will be a Longmire story set shortly after he is first made sheriff.

Craig Johnson spoke with Julia Wilmerding as he signed a book for her. (Joshua Scheer photo)

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