Friday, November 6, 2015

Longmire: A Cowboy Comes to Kentucky

A little bit of Wyoming dust kicked its way into Louisville last night. Said dust was on the boots of Craig Johnson author of the Longmire mystery series.

Perhaps you are not familiar with modern-day Sheriff Walter Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming.  He is: Thoughtful. Quiet. A man of his word. A man who doesn't jump to conclusions but will stoop down to pick up litter off the street. A man who carries a sidearm but not a cellphone.  A fellow who is not perfect but he sure is a Good Man.

And Longmire's creator Craig Johnson appears to be a good man as well. He showed up last night in boots and cowboy hat, jeans and silver belt buckle to speak at the Louisville Free Public Library's author series. 

He was a delight. Funny. Personable. Charismatic. 

I wish he would run for president.

Author Craig Johnson

I came to know Longmire from the television series which I have been watching on Netflix. Then I discovered, just in time to reserve a (free) ticket to hear Mr. Johnson, that he has written a series of thirteen books that the television show is based upon. Wow! I really have something to look forward to. I didn't want to begin the books until I finished watching the fourth season of the show (with a fifth in the works) just in case there were any spoilers.

Mr. Johnson had the entire audience (it was a packed house) laughing at his stories of writing the books - he worked with the sheriff of his own county in Wyoming on the procedural aspects of the books - and some behind-the-TV scene tales. The man knows how to spin a yarn. 

He said that after seven Longmire books had been published, Warner Bros. approached him about doing a television series. The studio Powers That Be sent to him at his ranch in Ucross, Wyoming (population 25) the auditions for the part of Longmire. Robert Taylor's audition (he is an Australian actor) was the last DVD in the box. 

Here's what sealed the deal: The scene has Longmire going to a woman's home to notify her of her husband's death. As he crosses the threshold, Taylor takes off his hat. This simple, respectful act captured Longmire's character. He got Johnson's recommendation and the part.

The woman sitting next to me had read all the books and just recently watched the television series. The couple behind me in the autograph line (yes, you know I bought his latest Wait for Signs, a book of twelve Longmire short stories) had only read the books. Another woman only listened to the mysteries as audio books and is crazy about the narrator George Guidall. It seems that no matter what the medium, Sheriff Walt Longmire is a favorite.

This is the ruggedly handsome Robert Taylor
Sheriff Walt Longmire

I must admit I have a weakness for cowboys. And after last night this song is definitely stuck in my head:

O give me land, lots of land, and the starry skies above,
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in


  1. So much fun to discover a new author/series, and even better when you can see him or her in person. I've not read the books or seen the TV show, though I agree that Mr. Taylor is ruggedly handsome and might be worth a watch :)!

    1. Yes, Kathy, I am quite taken with Sheriff Longmire!

      Mr. Johnson read one of his short stories to the audience. One that is not included in the book. He said that ten years ago, at the urging of his wife, he wrote and entered a short story in the Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest. He won. That year he sent the story out as a Christmas present to folks on his subscriber list. Then he wrote and sent out a free story every Christmas until his publisher told him, 'Stop that'. But I don't think he has! You can sign up for the yearly gift on his website.

  2. Oh, Belle, this sounds utterly delightful and now I am interested in Craig Johnson and his books. A library trip is on the docket for today. I'll be looking for one of his reads - or audios.

    1. Penny, I am looking forward to meeting Sheriff Longmire on the page. The folks at the event were unanimous in their praise of them. Hope your library excursion was successful.