ABOUT CRAIG JOHNSON:
Craig Johnson is a New York Times Bestselling author and playwright. His Sheriff Walt Longmire novels include The Cold Dish, Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpunished, Another Man's Moccasins, Junkyard Dogs, The Dark Horse, Hell is Empty and As The Crow Flies.
This Sunday night (June 3rd) LONGMIRE, the drama series based on Craig’s books, will premiere on A&E. He was kind enough to take the time to answer a few short questions about his experiences with translating his books to television, so readers would have a little behind-the-scenes info for Sunday!
How long was the process from interest in turning Longmire into a series until it actually happened?
For Longmire, it was an interesting but pretty straightforward path. I’d been advised by friends in Hollywood to not option my work outright, but rather, attempt to get a ‘package deal’ with a studio attached with producers, a director, and writers already in place. While making the rounds, an agent from CAA contacted my literary agent in New York and asked her if she had any books that were very strong on character—not just mystery, but any books. My agent pulled a copy of my first novel, The Cold Dish, from the shelf behind her and laid it on the desk between them. The agent from CAA wanted to know is there were any others and my agent responded, “Not until you read that one.”
I was lucky enough to have CAA assemble a team from the Shephard-Robin Company that had been involved with the production of shows like The Closer, Nip/Tuck and a number of others. With the financial backing of Warner Horizon, they were able to put together a smart script that captured the characters, place and tone of my novels. It was two years in the process, but it was picked up and ordered to a full series with ten episodes, which is set to premiere this Sunday, June 3rd on A&E at 10pm EDT.
How much input did you have in the creative choices?
They actually made me an Executive Creative Consultant on the show and I worked pretty closely with them on the pilot and subsequent episodes. They even sent me DVD’s of the actors and actresses they were auditioning for the roles. I gave them feedback and they actually cast the performers I was hoping they would.
How faithfully does the first season stay to the books?
Well about two weeks into the process the writers wrote me and said they were having a hard time cutting my first novel, The Cold Dish down to forty-five minutes—and I said I bet they were—my first draft of that book was close to six-hundred pages long… We started firing back and forth ideas based on the books, but with shorter arcs of story and character—things they could accomplish in less than an hour. I raided my story files for scenarios that might fit their purposes better than mine and they used those and a lot of chunks of the books in the first season. I look at it being an alternative reality, one with the same place and characters, but with slightly different stories.
AS THE CROW FLIES, the most recent Longmire mystery was released in March, what's coming next?
I finished the first draft of next year’s book, A Serpent’s Tooth, two days before going on tour, and I’ve got a few stand-alones I’m working on.
COMMENT ON THE INTERVIEW? Tell us your thoughts on LONGMIRE further down on this page, or commenting on this blog entry on our Facebook page and be entered to win a copy of THE COLD DISH (which has been re-released to reflect the A&E Series)!
QUICKIES WITH CRAIG:
Writing ambience: Up in the loft of my log ranch, looking through the north window toward the Cheyenne Reservation with music playing.
Outline or no: OUTLINE.
Reading now: FOOL’S CROW by James Welch.
Book he wishes he could read again for the first time: To Kill a Mockingbird.
Book or e-reader: Book.
Cats or Dogs Both.
Favorite protagonist (other than his own): Anybody by Daniel Woodrell.
Favorite big or small screen detective: Frank Bullit, (Steve McQueen) in Bullit.
Favorite sentence he’s ever written:“When you care about someone deeply and they die, they take a piece of you with them. What is left is someone you may not know or even like.” From THE COLD DISH
If he could have one superpower: Multiplicity.
If he could have any profession other than writer: Rodeo clown.
He’d like to travel to: Nepal, Tibet, Argentina—anywhere there are mountains...
Favorite online resource: Indian Country News.
Local independent bookstore: Sunriver Books, Sun River, Oregon.
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