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Craig Johnson
Kindness Goes Unpunished


Original Airdate: April 5, 2007

 

About the Author

Craig Johnson is a former law enforcer who lives on a ranch near Ucross, Wyoming with his wife Judy, dogs Ivan and Lucy, and their horses. Johnson is the author of the short story Old Indian Trick which was awarded the Tony Hillerman Short Story Award. Johnson's first novel, The Cold Dish (Viking 2005), introduced readers to Walt Longmire. It was re-released in 2006 by Penguin as a Paperback edition. Death Without Company (Viking 2006) was a finalist for the Mountains and Plains Bookseller's Association's Fiction Book of the Year, and was selected as the Wyoming Historical Society's Fiction Book of the Year. Kindness Goes Unpunished (Viking 2007) it the third Walt Longmire mystery.

Other titles by Craig Johnson
Old Indian Trick
The Cold Dish 2004
Death Without Company 2006

 

About this Book

Kindness Goes Unpunished is the third book featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Now the charming and humorous peace-keeper is headed to Philadelphia, where a visit to his daughter turns out to be no laughing matter. After his daughter is attacked and left in a coma, Longmire teams up with Philadelphia police to uncover a deadly political conspiracy and administer some good old-fashioned cowboy justice.

 


More Resources

Find out more:
Craig Johnson Homepage
Jackson Hole Writers Conference

 

Transcript

Ron Carlson: Hello. Welcome to Books & Co. I’m Ron Carlson, and today our guest is the writer Craig Johnson, author of Kindness Goes Unpunished, a Walter Longmire sheriff adventure and a third book in a series.

Craig Johnson: It is the third book in the series?

Ron Carlson: Yeah, welcome to the program.

Craig Johnson: Wonderful to be here, Ron. Thank you.

Ron Carlson: The first book was Cold Dish.

Craig Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Ron Carlson: Now, explain Walter Longmire, where he lives and what he does.

Craig Johnson: He's a sheriff, and – a middle-aged sheriff, a Vietnam veteran, and he is the sheriff of the least populated county in the least populated state in the country, up there in the northern portion of Wyoming, Absaroka County, which is fictitious, but based off of a lot of my experiences where I live in Ucross, which has a population of 25.

Ron Carlson: Right.

Craig Johnson: And I kind of assembled him from a lot of different law enforcement individuals that I had known and worked with, and --

Ron Carlson: Were you a -- were you in the --

Craig Johnson: I was, I was, a million years ago.

Ron Carlson: Okay.

Craig Johnson: But I kind of put him together and put the county together and assembled it and wrote the first book, the Cold Dish, and it was initially only going to be a stand-alone book.

Ron Carlson: Right.

Craig Johnson: Because I, as a writer, as a beginning writer, I had never even thought remotely of trying to do a series.

Ron Carlson: Right. Now, Cold Dish takes place in the county. It's a Western book. I’ve been in that country.

Craig Johnson: You have?

Ron Carlson: And I can't believe there's any crime up there, there's too few people, but the thing is that he -- that's western, there's a lot of traipsing in the desert and tracking, and he has his friend, Henry Standing Bear, who I guess is in all of these books.

Craig Johnson: Oh, yes, absolutely.

Ron Carlson: And so that book is different than -- well, we'll talk about where this -- where you go with this new book.

Craig Johnson: Right.

Ron Carlson: After that adventure, how did you then -- what was the leap? Did you think, "Oh, good, three books" or five or --

Craig Johnson: Well, actually, you know, it was one of those deals where I remember sitting across the table from Kathryn Court and, you know, having her say --

Ron Carlson: The editor at --

Craig Johnson: The editor at -- yeah, at Penguin, and having her say, "we'd like some more books." And I said, "Well, I'd be delighted to do some more books." And I remember her tapping the cover of the Cold Dish and going, "we'd like some more of these."

Ron Carlson: Oh, okay.

Craig Johnson: So I had a little crisis of artistic conscience at that point in time and had to think, "Well, you know, is this something that you want to do artistically? Is this something that, as a writer, that you want to try and tackle?" And there were a couple of questions I just had to ask myself, and the first one was, you know, "what are the motivations for writing the books?" And it's always been, for me, some sort of social conscience; some sort of social problem that I want to try and take a shot at. So I thought, "Okay, well, are there more social problems that you can deal with?" And I thought, well, there are more social problems than I could do if I lived to be 180."

Ron Carlson: Yeah, exactly.

Craig Johnson: And then the other was, "did the characters have enough of a -- of a longevity, enough breadth of development that would allow me to do more stories from those voices?" And you know, I came back with the answer that, "yeah, I probably could." So then -- then I actually started sitting down, thinking about writing more books, and I remember talking with Tony Hillerman about, you know, his 18th book, and that can be a little daunting for a beginning author. So when I started out, I thought, "well, maybe I can put some limitations on myself -- just intellectually -- that'll make this a little easier for me later on." And so I thought about, "well, in the West, what's the one thing that has more of an effect on us than anything else?" And that's the seasons, the weather, and so I pulled a Vivaldi is what I did and did the four seasons. So I thought, "Okay, I’m going to do them in seasons." The unexpected benefit of that, f course, is it allowed me to age my character in somewhat less than dog years, because Walt only ages one year for every four books that I write, so it makes it a little bit easier.

Ron Carlson: Yeah, he's still with us.

Craig Johnson: Yes.

Ron Carlson: Well, you talk about Vivaldi, and Walt knows a lot about opera for a rural sheriff. So, anyway, I understood -- and he has a certain code.

Craig Johnson: Ron, what are you saying about sheriffs, anyway?

Ron Carlson: Nothing. Some of my best friends are sheriffs.

Craig Johnson: Okay.

Ron Carlson: But the thing -- the issue is that you have -- I noticed as he goes through, he has a certain code.

Craig Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Ron Carlson: And as the main characters in books many times do, and how did you come up with -- did you -- did you take that from this compendium of people you knew or did you sit down -- did you actually sit down and sketch out this character before you set him into motion?

Craig Johnson: I actually -- I did an awful lot of research just to get him the way that I wanted him, and I knew that there were a lot of preconceived notions. I mean, a lot of the times, the things that I deal with in the books, you know, are sometimes stereotypical situations and stereotypical storylines to an extent, and what I like to do with those is kind of turn them a little bit and twist them so that they become something a little bit different because I do think a lot of times that, you know, with any kind of genre literature or any kind of regional literature, a lot of those regions sometimes get stereotyped.

Ron Carlson: Exactly.

Craig Johnson: And I think the West is – I think it was -- you know, Wallace Stegner said it best, you know, we're kind of like a literary ghetto out here as far as a lot of places are concerned, and so for me it was an opportunity to kind of work some of those stereotypes to the benefit of making them a little more humorous and doing more with them and trying to show that the levels of complexity for the society and for the people might be a little bit more than people suspect.

Ron Carlson: Right, they aren't just generic characters fulfilling a role.

Craig Johnson: Exactly, it isn't just, "Red, let's go over to the Chuck House" kind of thing.

Ron Carlson: Right, right, right. Although the Chuck House isn't bad. The issue is that many times in writing, and when we talk about it -- I call it the 180-degree rule, that here comes the character, we know the expected response; what's the furthest response he can generate and still be credible?

Craig Johnson: Right.

Ron Carlson: And I think one of the things about your novels is that each scene, moments of dialogue and interactions are full of surprises. And it's, you know, there's very clearly that you paid attention to these things, and not, like you said, just knocked off the --

Craig Johnson: Oh, thank you.

Ron Carlson: -- the western type. No, it's true from the first book on. Now, let's go back to your decision -- I’m still going backward. We're going to get to this book.

Craig Johnson: That's okay.

Ron Carlson: You said, "Well, I’m going to write a book." Nobody came out and found you and said, "hey, you're -- you're not -- you're free, why don't you write a book?" What -- tell me about that decision and -- because you'd been doing other things, right?

Craig Johnson: I had been doing lots of other things. As a matter of fact, beforehand, before coming back to Wyoming in the most recent reinvention of myself about 16 years ago, I had actually been back East, and one of the things I had was a little bit of experience in law enforcement, and so I thought, “Well, you know --" I got out to Wyoming and I started building the ranch, and I thought, "if I’m going to write, probably I’m going to have to look at doing novels." Because I had actually done – I had actually had a postgraduate degree in playwriting.

Ron Carlson: Oh.

Craig Johnson: And so the one thing that I felt really confident about was dialogue. I thought, "Well, at least I’ve got a few tools in my belt." I'd just try and do this. And then I thought with the experiences that I had, "Well, maybe you should try and do something along the lines of a police procedural." Because I think a lot of times what happens when people do try to write these type of books, it's very easy to get the technical aspects down. It's very easy to go and get the books on forensic medicine or the ballistics or whatever, but what they miss a lot of the times is the life.

Ron Carlson: Right.

Craig Johnson: What kind of effects the job has on you. So I thought, "Maybe that would be something that I could try." And one of the things that I did was, is I finally got the small log box that I had to live in built enough so that I could actually plug in a laptop, and it was one of those very first laptops.

Ron Carlson: A laptop and a log cabin.

Craig Johnson: Yes, exactly. Same thing as Abe Lincoln. And so I sat down and I wrote the first two chapters and discovered that I knew absolutely nothing about being a sheriff in Wyoming, and so I was smart enough to have learned the most seductive words in the English language, which are "Tell me a little about yourself." And so one of the things I did was I drove into Johnson County, into Buffalo, and found a sheriff there, a fellow by the name of Larry Kirkpatrick. He'd been the sheriff there for a number of years, and I went in, and the thing that I was very pleased about was that he had shelves of books, actually, in his office. And you don't see that in every sheriff's office, and so I was very delighted to see that. So I knew he read. And so I asked him, I said; "Would you mind reading these chapters as I write the book," just to check procedurally to see if the book makes any sense to him. And he said, "Yeah, I'd absolutely love to." Well, I went back out to the ranch and got more involved with the ranching aspect of being in Wyoming.

Ron Carlson: What kind of ranch is it?

Craig Johnson: It actually was just a cattle ranch. It's not very large. It's a postage stamp by Wyoming standards, only about 240 acres. But I did that for a while and also got involved with another business proposition that was an old opera house that was over in
Sheridan, the Cady building, and I had to go in and tear it out.

Ron Carlson: Is that on Main Street?

Craig Johnson: It is on Main Street.

Ron Carlson: In Sheridan, I’ve seen that building.

Craig Johnson: I’m so shocked that you should know all these places in Northern Wyoming.

Ron Carlson: Yeah, yeah. Well, it's a beautiful town.

Craig Johnson: It is. It is. But I got -- I got involved with all these other projects and happened to turn around and blink, and 10 years had gone by. And I pulled out this drawer with those two chapters there on the desk and looked at it after 10 years, and I thought, "Oh, my Gosh, you know -- either throw it into a fire or go ahead and finish it up." And I always like telling this story because young authors need to hear this story.

Ron Carlson: Right, right. You're giving people a lot of hope, seriously. Ten years.

Craig Johnson: So I pulled it out of there and looked at it again, and I thought, "Man alive, I’m going to have to go back in there and talk to that sheriff again." Because he was still in office, and this was 10 years later. And so I happened to be going in there to get gas in my truck, and I looked across the gasoline’s -- you know, the pumps there, looked over and I saw this man leaning up against his squad car looking at me. And the look he was giving me was a look I had seen before because it was a look that I had actually given, which is "how do I know you, when did I arrest you, and what was it for?" And so he's looking at me, and I thought, "Oh, man, this is the point in time when I have to do this." So I, you know, turned the pump off and closed the flap on the truck and walk across, and I stuck out my hand, and I said, "Sheriff Kirkpatrick, I don't know if you're going to remember me or not, but my name is Craig Johnson." He goes, "Your name is Craig Johnson, and you're the writer that's out in Ucross that's writing that murder mystery." And I said, "God, I can't believe that you actually remembered me." And he goes -- [knocks on table] "if you don't mind me saying so, it's going kind of slow."

Ron Carlson: Everybody should have the sheriff to talk to.

Craig Johnson: Absolutely.

Ron Carlson: It would be nice if he came around to our houses.

Craig Johnson: I know, we should have, like, a literary police force that comes around. But I actually went back out to the ranch and then finished the Cold Dish in five months.

Ron Carlson: You went after -- and did he actually then review it and kick things back?

Craig Johnson: Yes, he did. And it was a wonderful thing because, you know, the styles of law enforcement, they vary from region to region in the style of law enforcement. And sheriffs, you know, boy, that's a tough bailiwick because you really are involved with every aspect of the law enforcement of a -- you know, in some of those counties out here in the West, they're -- they're as big as some New England states, so it's -- it's quite a job to try and tackle, but I did a lot of ride-arounds with Larry, and one came in – there was a call in for a 10-54, and I’m pretty conversant with 10 code, and so he turns the car around and heads back, and I’ve got this blank look on my face, and I’m trying to think, "10-54, 10-54," and he looks at me, and he goes, "livestock on the road. You didn't have a lot of that on the Upper East Side, or what?" So --

Ron Carlson: You use that. There's a lot of "10s" in this book, I mean, in a very effective way. Well, I have a -- we talk to a lot of writers who have readers. Either they consult with a group or they consult with friends or family, and I never have heard the story of consulting with a sheriff.

Craig Johnson: Yeah, yeah.

Ron Carlson: So I’m really glad to find that out. But research is research. It can -- your books are very well-informed in that regard.

Craig Johnson: Well, thank you.

Ron Carlson: The -- let's go to the book. Okay, so Absaraka County --

Craig Johnson: Absaroka.

Ron Carlson: Absaroka County, which belongs to Craig Johnson, hoof, hide, and bone.

Craig Johnson: It does.

Ron Carlson: And -- but, hey, our sheriff, Walter Longmire, is leaving the West for -- this whole book does -- and so you plunge him into Philadelphia.

Craig Johnson: I do.

Ron Carlson: Tell us -- let's talk just briefly about what the book's about so that we can go from there.

Craig Johnson: Well, a lot of -- when I first started out doing the books as a series, you'll always hear -- there are always going to be a certain number of individuals who are going to tell you what the rules are, you know, for what it is that you're allowed to do with this type of book or this type of character and all that. And, you know, I think like any writer, the first thing you do is chafe immediately and think, "Well, I can go against that rule."
So one of the first rules that I had heard was you never take a character out of their environs whenever you're writing a murder mystery, and so I thought, "Well, now, wait a minute. That just doesn't seem quite right." And so one of the things that the Cold Dish had a strong connection to was the fact that Walt actually had a daughter who was a lawyer back in Philadelphia. And also, one of the good, strong support characters in the book, Victoria Moretti –

Ron Carlson: She plays a big role in all his books.

Craig Johnson: She does.

Ron Carlson: I was glad to see her again.

Craig Johnson: She does. And she was an important part of the books, too, because in the construction, one of the things I noticed very quickly was with a first-person, present-tense novel, you can become very preponderous with whatever aspects of character or dynamics of character there are. And Walt is what Walt is. And -- and so I started thinking about -- you know, when I started coming up with an idea for Walt's second in command, something that would actually reflect and bounce off of him a little bit more interestingly, I started thinking about all the things that Walt wasn't: Walt was not female, Walt was not young, Walt was not profane, and urban, and all of these other things. And so – technologically advanced -- so that pretty much predicated exactly what that good support character was going to be.

Ron Carlson: Who Vic was going to be.

Craig Johnson: Exactly.

Ron Carlson: She's tough.

Craig Johnson: She is.

Ron Carlson: She's got a mouth on her.

Craig Johnson: She does. And sometimes I have to laugh sometimes, Ron, because people talk about her language, how rough it is, and I always laugh because I think to myself, "if she was a 6'2" cowboy and those words were coming out of his or her mouth, I wonder how many people would say anything." And so it's kind of interesting to me.
But anyway, that was a lot of the genesis of the idea of doing a book based in Philadelphia. And it also -- it gave me an opportunity to go after some of my own little peccadilloes, which are -- in the sense that the West is the West in the context of the West, but the West out of its own context is something different. And so what I decided was, is I thought I wanted to kind of put a finer point on what I tend to refer to as the three W's, which are the West, Wyoming, and Walt. And so when I moved him to Philadelphia, I knew that there was going to be a constant referencing back to Wyoming, and I tend to refer to the book as a Wyoming book that just happens to take place in Philadelphia. And I got a little worried about it whenever it first started coming out, and we got some really great reviews, but it still was a concern because your readership, a lot of them read the books simply for the locale, and so I wanted to make sure that I hadn't made a mistake here. But I went back through the book and noticed that I basically had referenced Wyoming and the West practically on every page.

Ron Carlson: Constantly, constantly. Horses, Native Americans, I mean, it's -- but you'd obviously done some work on Philadelphia, too.

Craig Johnson: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Ron Carlson: Are you from there?

Craig Johnson: No, no, but I did some postgraduate work there, and I also have two daughters and a granddaughter who live there.

Ron Carlson: Okay.

Craig Johnson: So I have free lodging, so I can go back and drink Yuengling beer and eat cheese steaks and call it research.

Ron Carlson: Yeah, I saw that -- it paid off in the book, too. I saw both of those things, all those things. Let me remind everybody that we're talking with the Wyoming writer Craig Johnson about the third book in his Walt Longmire series, Kindness Goes Unpunished. One of the issues in writing a series is each of your books is freestanding, and so you're not -- it would be so much easier if you could just say, "oh, yeah, Vic, you remember Vic." But you have to bring him in and establish him again. What's that been like?

Craig Johnson: It's actually been a lot easier than I would've thought, because reintroducing the characters is like reengineering the wheel.

Ron Carlson: You've got them already.

Craig Johnson: But at least, you know, you have a standing body of work in which to work from, and I think that a lot of times what that comes down to is you've got to find a new angle at that character for a redescription, and that -- that's one of the big things for me as far as the writing is concerned. And my wife, Judy, has this phrase that she uses whenever she's reading the rough drafts of the work, which is, "is there another way to say this?" And one of the things I always tell young writers is, "these are some of the most powerful words you'll ever learn." You know, when you read something of yours and it sounds like somebody else wrote it, guess what, they probably did. And so go back and think about a new way to say it. Come up with some new way of -- whether it be a descriptive passage or a passage of dialogue, it doesn't really matter. But look for something new."

Ron Carlson: Now, had you -- these all are what we call, I guess, character-driven. You've got some rich characters and some interesting worlds which we'll occupy happily, but you've also got these plots.

Craig Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Ron Carlson: Now, had you read in this genre, generally? Were you guided by a group of readings that you'd done over the time that you were ranching?

Craig Johnson: You know, I’m a really horrible point of -- of interest for this because I have to admit honestly that one of the groups of literature that I don't read as much as I probably should is mystery. I read a lot of straight literature. I read a lot of poetry. I read a lot of things that are more compelling to me, and the actual -- the reading list of my mysteries actually comes from more of that golden era of mystery literature, which was the Raymond Chandlers, the Dashiell Hammetts, the Dorothy Sayers, the -- the Agatha Christies, and things like that.

Ron Carlson: Well, it's hard to get better than chandler, though.

Craig Johnson: It is.

Ron Carlson: There are lots of -- now, tell me this about -- so you turn around, you've been reading, you've been waiting, you want to write this book, you've got this idea, then – so you've got, as I’ve said, the character and the world, but now this plot, and we talk about this with writers who come here, about -- did you make an outline, did you make a map?

Craig Johnson: Oh, yes.

Ron Carlson: And did you work backwards or -- do you want to talk about that process?

Craig Johnson: Well, I think that a lot of it -- and I get asked that question a lot because there's a constant re-referencing also within the plots of the books. I mean, the one that I’ve got coming out next year, it kind of bounces back and forth between a crime that takes place in Wyoming in modern-day and a crime that actually started off Walt's career in law enforcement as a marine investigator in Vietnam in 1968. And there are similarities between the two crimes and then there is actually a tie between the two, but I think that a lot of times -- in answer to the first question, absolutely. I don't go anywhere without a map. I feel that -- you know, I hear some writers say that, "I just kind of wing it, I just jump in there and just start writing," And that just scares the Bejesus out of me.

Ron Carlson: Especially with a novel.

Craig Johnson: Yes. I think that you really have to know what it is you're writing about and what the construction is and where you're going. And I’m not saying that you can't depart from that. I’m not saying that you can't surprise yourself as you're writing, because I think sometimes some of the best writing comes from those surprises, but nonetheless, I think it's very good to do a little homework and have it all kind of nailed down before you get going.

Ron Carlson: Well, you've got a lot of characters here. And the plot just thickens. I mean, there's an accident, and then the next thing is – the next -- the suspect in the accident is dead, and then there's notes on the bridge, and so you'd need to know that. Were there -- even though you had this map, were there big surprises in this Philadelphia story --

Craig Johnson: Oh, yeah.

Ron Carlson: -- kindness goes unpunished?

Craig Johnson: Yep, there always are. There are always going to be surprises where you're writing along and you get to a point where something happens and you go, "okay, well, now what? Because that really wasn't what I had intended." But I think that that's part of that -- that muse that you get into where some of the best writing -- and you as a writer know exactly what I’m talking about. You get -- it's almost like being an athlete, where you get into a zone and you're just working along and everything is just falling into place, and then all of a sudden something happens that you really didn't count on. Well, I think it's your ability to use -- to take that – that event and turn it into something that's a positive thing within the story line. It happened for a reason. A lot of times -- I shudder to think just how much of the process is subconscious. I mean, I like to think I know what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, but there's an awful lot of it there that I don't understand.

Ron Carlson: Well, as you said, in the zone. And I make it even more pedestrian: it's in the room. I mean, if you're in the room, there's a possibility something will happen.

Craig Johnson: Yes.

Ron Carlson: If you're not in the room, it's not going to, it's that simple.

Craig Johnson: Exactly.

Ron Carlson: But I understand exactly what you said. One of the things that you do best -- I was interested, I didn't know that you'd been -- studied playwriting, because your scenes -- in the diner in the original, in the first book, and in the various – in the hospital here and in the various places they are – are fully realized. You got the body and the – and the text and the subtext. And everybody stays in character. Now, is that a result of hard listening or is it your studies or just -- how does that -- because you're -- it is extremely facile and effective.

Craig Johnson: Well, thank you. I think -- I'd like to think that there's a certain amount of training involved in what it is that we do, and I do also think, though, that it's another one of those things where I was lucky enough to -- to really work close to the vest on that first book, but then like anything else, I also think that, as a writer, the one thing that no one should ever feel bad about coming up to a writer and saying is, "I really loved this book, but I love the new one." And I like to think -- I tend to refer to it -- and you're talking about the pedestrian qualities -- I tend to refer to it as the ditch-digging school of authorship, which is, you know, if I'd dug ditches for 10 years, I certainly wouldn't want anybody coming up to me after 10 years and saying, "you know, that first ditch you dug was probably the best ditch you ever dug." And I think that you have to be open to that process. You have to be open to that learning process in just about everything in your life. And I remember sitting down with Mark Spragg one time in Red Lodge, and he was --

Ron Carlson: Yeah, we've had him here.

Craig Johnson: He's a great guy. But I remember sitting down, talking with him in the Front Street Bar, like a six-hour conversation, and there was one thing that he said that just really cracked me up. He says, "You know what I don't ever want to have happen?"
And I said, "No, what's that?" And he goes, "I don't ever want to open my book and find a spot, read it, and go, 'oh, a great man wrote that.'" My response was, "well, where do you go to from there?"

Ron Carlson: Right, right. Well, the -- this book has a lot of action in it, too.

Craig Johnson: It does.

Ron Carlson: I mean, there's very cinematic moments of when he gets close to the quote-unquote "bad guys," where he's attached to the top of a car on --

Craig Johnson: Doesn't really want to be.

Ron Carlson: He's kind of a reluctant action hero.

Craig Johnson: And he gets to play out his code with firearms. He knows a lot about these firearms: the 10-gauge – what do they call it, the 10-gauge...

Ron Carlson: Roadblocker. Ithaca Roadblocker, which is a frightening thing, if you've ever seen one.

Craig Johnson: I’ve seen a 10-gauge shotgun, but there's such a gun that -- and they use it to – to literally, to shoot engine blocks, to stop them for roadblocks, yeah. That was the idea. And the extension tube that I -- the malfunction in the extension tube, it actually does exist. And one of the good things about that is I have an in-house expert, my father, who knows everything there is to know about guns, so if there's anything I ever need to know, I just call dad up and ask him.

Ron Carlson: Yeah, the -- in the -- at the end, there's a lot of -- you're tying up a lot of loose ends in this book, and you had to know the levels of the D.A.'s office And there's -- I mean, the first crime was not the real crime, et cetera. Is that where you used your map a great deal?

Craig Johnson: Oh, yes.

Ron Carlson: And did you have to look at it every day?

Craig Johnson: Well, yeah, and also alter it because I found out that even some of the information that I had gotten from friends of mine, actually, at the Philadelphia Police Department, some of that information had changed in the period of time when I was assembling some of the information and finding out what -- you know, were the detectives Divided into north and south, were there field offices, and that, and so as I developed that idea, some of the circumstance and some of those particulars, they did change. And so once again, I think you've got to be able to think on your feet and kind of develop it as it falls along.

Ron Carlson: And let the book get informed by the research is a valuable --

Craig Johnson: Yeah. And then there -- I did a lot of research as far as reading about the criminal past in Philadelphia: a lot of newspaper articles, wonderful newspaper articles by Steve Lopez that -- some incredible essays about some of the things that go on.

Ron Carlson: Well, you use the town of Philadelphia very well – the statuary, the parks -- and it's a real read. I mean, clue to clue, we read along. This has been a pleasure. It vanished in a moment.

Craig Johnson: It did.

Ron Carlson: And I really enjoyed your book. We've been talking with Craig Johnson about his book, Kindness Goes Unpunished, published by Viking. It's one of the Walter Longmire sheriff series. A Wyoming sheriff in this book goes to Philadelphia. Craig, thank you very much.

Craig Johnson: My pleasure, Ron.

Ron Carlson: Yeah, good. I’m Ron Carlson. This has been Books & Co. I hope you'll join us next time.

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