Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

November 12, 2013

Mystery novelist opens up to fans in Ashland

ASHLAND — Craig Johnson never dreamed of being a writer, growing up in the Appalachian area of Huntington. He didn’t major in creative literature studies or write novellas as a young man. For this New York Times bestselling author, his writing pursuits began merely 10 years ago with the art of the spoken word.

“I learned to write in a number of different schools, but where I learned to tell a story was on the front porches of Appalachia,” he said, saying storytelling is more important than the dry mechanics of composition.

Johnson held a book signing at the JSF bookstore in Ashland as part of his Eastern Kentucky tour where fans were granted the rare opportunity to meet the man behind the words, ask book-related questions and engage in discuss his literature-based A&E television series, Longmire.

Jim Hawk of Huntington is an avid fan of Johnson’s writing and has met the author on numerous occasions.

Though Johnson now lives in Wyoming, the two men can always relate to each other through their West Virginia upbringing, hardly ever being but a short drive away from the Ashland area.

But despite not knowing Johnson until he became a published author, Hawk has been a fan since day one, attributing his initial interest in Johnson’s first book, Cold Dish, to their shared demographic background.

But what really captured the heart of Hawk was not engaging and mysterious plots Johnson weaved, but the depth of his character development.

As Johnson sat in a quaint room of the bookstore, talking wildly with each person seeking his mark, he told story after story about his characters, giving them life outside the bound pages held between their hands.

But although his characters are his driving force, writing mostly in first-person perspective of a war veteran named Walt, Johnson always stays in control of his own stories.

“When authors say they hear ‘voices’ in their heads of their characters telling them what to do, that makes me a little worried,” he said with a laugh.

“Your subconscious mind is the one doing the outlines, doing the typing, doing the research, it’s kind of just like a backseat driver.”

Outlines are key for keeping Johnson focused and organized as he leads his readers to solve clever mysteries.

Johnson has received recognition for his art across seas in Europe, where he claims his audience is fascinated with modern Western life and the contrast between stereotypical ‘cowboys-and-Indians’ with true Native Americans and ranchers.

In fact, at one point while Johnson and his wife visited a Parisian museum, Johnson received a small surprise after dozing off under his cowboy hat on a bench.

“All the sudden, he peeked out from under his hat and saw two little girls with bagged lunches and then more kids joined the crowd until their teacher came back to him and said, ‘My kids would really love to have lunch with you. They’ve never seen a real-life cowboy before.’”

Johnson has penned eight novels in the Walter Longmire mystery series, with his next book, Any Other Home, releasing in June 2014. A new season of Longmire will also be premiering that month on A&E.

Today, he returns to Gallaher Branch Library in his hometown of Huntington at 5:30 to have another meet and greet.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Morehead man faces drug charges

    A Morehead man is facing multiple drug charges after taking possession of a suspicious package mailed to his home on Dillon Lane, according to the Kentucky State Police.

    July 31, 2014

  • Highlands’ Artists Market to begin today

    Up-and-coming artists are being offered a rare chance to show and sell their work during the First Friday art walk.

    July 31, 2014

  • Dogonline.jpg 'Educate and entertain'

    A local theater group is shooting for changing the area’s theater scene.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 07/31/2014 — What's Happening

    Local news

    July 31, 2014

  • News in brief, 07/31/14

    About 450 marijuana plants were confiscated during an eradication effort in Lawrence County on Tuesday.

    July 30, 2014

  • 0731facelift1.JPG Painters finishing up work at ACTC

    When Ashland Community and Technical College students return to campus Aug. 18, they will find fresh paint, clean windows and pressure-washed brickwork on the college’s original building on College Drive.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Night Moves on tap for First Friday

    A chance to enjoy an evening run through the streets of Ashland will be among the things to do during the First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live for August from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairview school district being investigated

    State education investigators were scheduled to arrive in the Fairview school district this morning to interview school officials.

    July 30, 2014

  • Advisory committee on landfill to meet

    Members of the county’s new advisory committee regarding Big Run Landfill enforcement are encouraged to attend the group’s first meeting next week.
    Committee facilitator Mike Clevenger of Cannonsburg said the panel will meet the first Monday of each month, starting next week. For now, all meetings will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Boyd County Community Center.

    July 30, 2014

  • Highway dedicated in Morehead man’s name

    During Wednesday morning’s highway dedication ceremony for late airman Daniel N. Fannin, 30, of Morehead, the man was honored as a Kentucky hero for dedicating his life to the U.S. Air Force until his untimely death last year.

    July 30, 2014