Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Craig Johnson, a "cowboy from Wyoming," goes to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

There was an important moment when the guy standing next to me at the Washington Post for the official photo for the National Book Festival in DC turned and said, “Hey Craig, how you doin’?” I thought he looked familiar as he told me about selling books out of the trunk of his car, but it was only as he was turning away that I got a look at his nametag and read John Grisham.

Another was when I saw an elderly gentleman at the adjacent table looking for a place to sit at the breakfast reception. I stood and took my chair over, placing it beside him. “There you go.” By that time I’d gotten pretty cagey about the whole nametag thing and caught a glimpse of his, Ben Bradley--the famed editor who had seen that two cub reporters by the names of Woodward and Bernstein got a crack at a little know story back in the seventies called Watergate.

I was starting to feel a little more than out of my depth.

The night before, Judy and I had attended the opening reception at the Library of Congress Reading Room. If you haven’t been there, you should go. I think it’s one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever been in and if you go during business hours and show them some ID they’ll give you a card so that you can request any of thirty-two million books.

I was tempted to request one of mine but it was, after all, beyond business hours.

The next day I got to speak in a tent that held about seven hundred people and set the pace by telling them about getting pulled over by HP Jim Thomas on the other side of the mountains. They started laughing, and I’ve got to admit that they laughed all the way through my presentation. I like to think they were laughing with me. The speech is up on the Library of Congress website, if you should choose to watch. http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/2009/authors/Johnson-Craig.html

Later, I got to chat with Mike Enzi and assist Wyoming State Librarian Lesley Boughton by placing stickers of Steamboat (the horse on our license plate) on the maps the hoards of kids brought to our table. Lesley was tough and made them guess where the home state was, “There are only two square states…”

Now with a guest list that included the afore mentioned John Grisham, Ken Burns, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Margaret Coel, John Irving, Sue Monk Kidd, Walter Mosely, James Patterson, and Lisa Scottoline just to name a few, you might be wondering how in the heck the cowboy from Ucross got invited? I mean, I had a good year but not that good.

Well, the secret lies in a nice fellow by the name of John Y. Cole, the Director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress who has a wife who is the librarian at the little museum down the road—the Smithsonian.

Well, guess which square state she’s from.

All the best,


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Craig Johnson is the author of the Walt Longmire series. His fifth book, The Dark Horse, was published in June of 2009. Visit Craig Johnson's website.

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