Prose 'n Cons™ Mystery Magazine


Mystery & True Crime • News, Features & Interviews

Longmire Finds a New Home on Netflix, and Craig Johnson Can Thank His “Longmire Posse”

Reprinted from Summer 2015 issue of Prose ‘n Cons™ Mystery Magazine

Craig Johnson tells audiences that he is actually the second-best storyteller in his family. The best, he says, was his mother. It is her bookmark that Johnson carries to signings of his 11th Longmire novel, Dry Bones.

  Seeing Johnson in person, you can’t help but wonder why he’s not in front of the camera, rather than behind the keyboard. His personality and sense of humor are as large as his hat. Audiences devour his anecdotes as eagerly as they read his books, which have been released at a rate of at least one-per-year since 2004.

  Johnson says that, while he and his protagonist Sheriff Walt Longmire share some similarities, Longmire is a better man than he is. “He’s decent and kind,” says Johnson. “I really enjoy his company.”

  Johnson’s wife Judy, no stranger to wit herself, puts it this way: “Walt is who Craig would like to be in ten years. He’s just off to an incredibly slow start.”

  In 2012, A&E premiered the series Longmire. It was the network’s most successful debut, drawing more than four million viewers. In 2014, fans of the show were shocked to learn that it had been cancelled. It took less than three months - largely due to vocal, disappointed viewers - for the series to find a new home on Netflix.

  “The show was pulling in more than six million viewers per episode when it was cancelled,” Johnson reports. But, A&E apparently worried the audience skewed too “old” to meet its advertising goals. What they didn’t count on was what Johnson calls “The Longmire Posse.”

  “Once you reach 49 - and older - you’ve already been to the rodeo and got your buckle,” he says. “You’re not afraid to let people know what you think.” A&E may have turned a deaf ear to the show’s loyal following, but Netflix was more than happy to listen.

  Johnson says the only folks more excited about the show’s new incarnation than the fans are the cast, all of whom are returning. And, since there are no commercials on Netflix, each episode will have twenty more minutes of content - a fact that pleases both groups.

  “You’re looking at an Executive Creative Consultant,” Johnson declares in his own, unique tongue-in-cheek fashion. That title, he explains, means the show’s writers create the scripts and then send them to Johnson for feedback.

  Johnson’s readers will be happy to learn there is no shortage of new cases for Walt and his team to solve. “I’m already on chapter fifteen of my next book, and the book after that is already outlined.”

  While Walt Longmire is a conglomeration of several people Johnson has met, he says many of his other characters are based on specific individuals and circumstances. In Dry Bones, for instance, Walt happens upon a deputy tossing rocks into a stream. This incident was originally relayed to Johnson by the grandson of a Wyoming sheriff. When called to a crime scene, that sheriff observed the same behavior from one of his deputies. When asked why he was tossing rocks, the deputy replied, “I’m trying to keep the snapping turtles away from that dead body out there.”

  Johnson clearly enjoys his book tours and jokes that it’s likely because, back home in Wyoming, he lives in a town with just 25 souls. One suspects, however, he would enjoy entertaining people no matter where he lived.

  “I’ve got about a dozen books in my head,” he says, and all of them are Longmire stories. When asked if he might branch out into young adult or other types of writing, Johnson says, “I really enjoy what it is I write right now.”

  Dry Bones was released in May2015. Season four of Longmire started streaming on Netflix in September 2015. PnC

© Hoover’s Prose ‘n Cons - All Rights Reserved