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
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
“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