Box, Johnson confirm for 2013 Festival
The 2013 South Dakota Festival of Books is holding a winning hand: a pair of Wyoming authors who write mysteries with a Western flair. Fan favorites C.J. Box and Craig Johnson will appear in Deadwood September 20-22 to discuss their popular novels.
The two men have a lot in common: both have earned the title “New York Times bestseller,” both live in and write about Wyoming, and both have constructed unique main characters with careers in fields close to their own interests.
In addition, both have new books out this year. Box’s most recent Joe Pickett novel, Breaking Point, came out in March, and The Highway, a stand-alone novel featuring Cody Hoyt, will be published in July.
The ninth installment of Johnson’s Walt Longmire series, A Serpent’s Tooth, will be released in June.
Besides his latest book, Johnson has another major entertainment success to look forward to this spring. The hit A&E drama Longmire, starring Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackoff, premieres its second season on Memorial Day (May 27). At the Festival, Johnson will offer a writer’s perspective on having his books turned into a television series.
Johnson’s experience in metropolitan law enforcement as a young man helped inspire his books about Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire. To make his rural crime-fighting stories more realistic, he told Publishers Weekly in 2009, “I spent a lot of time with another good friend, Sheriff Larry Kirkpatrick of Johnson County, refitting my experiences to a more rural jurisdiction. I rode around with Larry a lot; herding cattle off the highway with a cruiser is a real talent.”
The Longmire mysteries have won numerous awards, including the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers’ Book of the Year, the Wyoming State Historical Association’s Book of the Year, the Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year, and the Library Journal’s Best Mystery of the Year.
Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25, and finds plenty of inspiration for his novels in his home state. “It’s diverse, and even if there are only 535,000 of us, it’s not as square as it looks, culturally or physically,” he said. “We get called ‘the big empty,’ but open places tend to draw in the interesting.”
Box has a similar love for his native Wyoming. Last year he told the Rawlins Daily Times he never intends to leave. “It’s a perfect sort of situation in that I can live wherever I want in the country at this point, but I would rather live here,” he said. “I love to fish, I love to hunt, I like to roam around the state and I like to write about it.”
Before becoming a fiction writer, C. J. Box worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, newspaper reporter and editor, and co-owner (with his wife, Laurie) of an international tourism marketing firm. He is the author of sixteen novels, including the Joe Pickett series, which revolves around a tough Wyoming game warden.
Box’s interest in outdoor activities led to the creation of his main character. “I never set out to write a series,” he said. “I was writing the first manuscript about endangered species as I was doing ridealongs with the game warden in Saratoga. I realized talking with that guy and going out with him, the duties of a game warden and the kind of things they were involved in, would be the perfect kind of protagonist to tell that story because they would be involved in issues like endangered species, and hunting and being outdoors and land owner relations. That was the best way to carry the story.”
Among Box’s honors are the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel, the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award, and the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers’ Association Award for fiction. Three of his novels—Open Season, Blue Heaven and Nowhere to Run— have been optioned for film.
Other confirmed authors include:
-- Walter Dean Myers, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, who will headline this year's Festival with his message, "Reading is not optional."
-- Danielle Sosin, author of the 2013 One Book South Dakota, "The Long-Shining Waters." She will celebrate the culmination of her statewide tour at the Festival.
-- Award winning adventure writer and NPR contributor Peter Heller
-- Former One Book SD author Kent Meyers