WANT TO GO?
"How Many People Can You Kill in a Town of 25?"
Craig Johnson at the West Virginia Book Festival
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Charleston Civic Center
INFO: 304-343-4646 or www.wvbookfestival.org
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At some point, Craig Johnson must have heard the words, "Go west, young man," because for years that's all the New York Times best-selling author thought about.
The novelist, best known for his Sheriff Walt Longmire books, said, "Most of my family is out in Wayne County and Cabell. My grandfather was a blacksmith, so at a very early age I got involved with horses, knew all about horses, and my eyes were always pointed west.
"I always wanted to see what was out that way."
Johnson, who's in town Saturday for the West Virginia Book Festival, couldn't resist the sirens' call. After the Huntington native graduated from Marshall University, he put on his cowboy hat and boots, packed a backpack, stuffed about a thousand dollars cash in his pocket and hit the rode with his thumb stuck out.
"I hitchhiked west," he said. "I just traveled around."
He took jobs in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. Then, he headed back east, where he studied playwriting at Temple University in Philadelphia and got a doctorate. He worked as a police officer in New York for two years before returning to Wyoming, where he started a ranch.
"I built the ranch myself," he said, proudly. "I poured the concrete and stacked the logs and did it all myself."
The 51-year-old said he'd always wanted to write, but he didn't really get started until he was in his 40s.
"I ran out of excuses," he laughed -- not that he necessarily regretted waiting until later in life.
Life had to happen before he was ready to write.