Johnson visits to promote One Book Wyo.

by barbara anne greene

When Walt Longmire series author Craig Johnson of Ucross committed to a One Book Wyoming tour he told the State Library that he would do up to three stops per county. The State Library chose Johnson’s novella “The Spirit of Steamboat” for the One Book Wyoming program.

Last Friday and Saturday Johnson made good on that promise with events in Greybull, Burlington and Basin.

Friday night’s shindig was at the South Big Horn County Airport near Greybull in the hangar leased by B & G Industries. Johnson said the ambiance bar had been set high when he walked in and saw an old PBY Catalina Black Cat airplane in the same hangar the event was in.

“That old plane along with the open hangar doors with the view of the Big Horns, later a rainbow and a super moon is going to be hard to beat.”

The Greybull event was sponsored by the Friends of the Greybull Library with more than 150 people coming to hear Johnson talk about book “The Spirit of Steamboat.” An old Mitchell B-25 that had once been flown by the crews of Hawkins and Powers is prominantly featured in the book.

The friends group provided “airplane” snacks in old suitcases. Pepsi from Worland provide drinks including pop in throwback glass bottles.

Betty Koller of the Greybull library said that she is so grateful to Karl Bertagnole of B & G and his employees. “Karl was so gracious to allow us access and his employees helped us set up.” She added that she has heard nothing but great things from those who attended. “I’m glad it worked out so well and that we could give back to the community for all the support they have given us. Special thanks to Craig and Judy Johnson for being a part of the One Book Wyoming and committing to go to every library in the state.”

Saturday’s events were in Burlington and Basin. First up was the event at the Burlington Schools with about 20 adults and children coming to enjoy hot dogs and a carry-in meal while listening to Johnson.

The hot topic was about the A&E series “Longmire,” which is based off of Johnson’s books. People asked Johnson if there was going to be another season. He said that “Longmire” is A&E’s most watched scripted show, he is pretty sure that if A&E didn’t want to keep the series another network would.

Johnson was asked if he had any input into the scripts. He said the scripts are mailed to him prior to production. He edits, comments, ask questions, etc. Then the writers and he discuss the scripts.

“They usually have a good reason for what they do. For example they told me in the beginning they wanted to make Walt and Henry about 10 years younger than they are in the book. When I asked them why they said they were hoping the series would last 10 years and they didn’t want to see Walt and Henry with walkers. I told them that was a pretty good idea then.”

Johnson ended his Big Horn County visit Saturday night at The Stockman’s with about 25 people attending. The majority of the questions to Johnson were about if the events and the people in the books are based on reality.

He said they sure are. “I get ideas from reading Wyoming newspapers and from law enforcement friends.” One example he gave was from his book “Junkyard Dogs.” The owner of the junkyard is taken to the emergency room. After being examined the doctor comes out and tells Walt that the patient’s hair has grown through his clothes. “Yup, that really happened and I knew I had to write a book to include it.”