Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson has received high praise for his Sheriff Walt Longmire novels The Cold Dish, Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpunished, Another Man's Moccasins, and The Dark Horse, which received a superfecta of starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal, and was named one of Publishers Weekly's best books of the year (2009). Keir Graff, in a Booklist starred review of last year's Junkyard Dogs, called Johnson "a born storyteller if ever there was one."

His latest novel is Hell Is Empty, the seventh Walt Longmire mystery.

From Johnson's Q & A Julia Buckley:

Your new Walt Longmire mystery, HELL IS EMPTY, is a fascinating read, especially, for me, because of all of its literary parallels. Dante’s INFERNO plays an important role in the story. Did you have the idea that you wanted Walt to go, symbolically, through many levels of hell?

It’s a novel that I’ve had in the works for a few years now, and it took that long to get all the pieces into place. I knew when I introduced Virgil White Buffalo in Another Man’s Moccasins that I was committed to the idea of an allegorical tale that would utilize Inferno. I knew that Walt was going to return to the Bighorn mountains, specifically to the area where he ventured in my first novel, The Cold Dish—but I didn’t want the book to simply be another manhunt in the snow (I figure that’s been done to death), so I started thinking about which works of literature explored the things I’d be dealing with in Hell is Empty.

Two things most people aren’t aware of are that there are only one or two sentences describing hell in the Bible--that the majority of the images we have of hell actually come from Dante, and that the further you go down into Dante’s hell, the colder it gets, the epic poem finally ending in a frozen lake with snow and wind. The parallels were there--I just had to find a way to use them so that people who were familiar with Inferno weren’t bored and so that readers who weren’t wouldn’t be intimidated.

Even though you reference Dante continually, the title is taken from a line in Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST, one of my favorite plays. I see many parallels between your book and that play—specifically the recurring theme of illusion versus reality. On Shakespeare’s magical island, one can rarely tell what is and what is not. Did you try to use that idea in your mystery?

Yes, illusion and reality is...[read on]
Visit Craig Johnson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Page 69 Test: Kindness Goes Unpunished.

My Book, The Movie: The Cold Dish.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Horse.

The Page 69 Test: Junkyard Dogs.

The Page 69 Test: Hell Is Empty.

--Marshal Zeringue