New York Times bestselling author C. J. Box is the
author of eleven novels including the Joe Pickett series. He won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel (Blue
Heaven, 2009) as well as the Anthony
Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France),
the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award, and the 2010
Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Award for
fiction. His short stories have been featured in America’s Best Mystery Stories of 2006 and limited-edition
printings. 2008 novel Blood Trail was
nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin (Ireland) Literary Award. The
novels have been translated into 25 languages. Blue Heaven and Nowhere to
Run have been optioned for film.
Is there anything of Joe Picket in you?
little! I’m a Wyoming guy who once
worked for state government, and I have a lovely wife and three wonderful
daughters. But Joe is Joe. I think there’s a bit of every author
in each character he or she creates, but not as much as some readers think.
Have you always wanted to write?
Yes, although I grew
up aiming toward journalism, not creative writing. I’m glad now my background was in newspapers and columns,
though. Writing clearly and on deadlineare extremely important.
I understand that your first novel Open Season took a long time to write. How long did it in fact take to write and why?
It took about three
years to write, but that wasn’t writing each and every day. I was writing on spec, so to
speak. So it took a while. What really took a long time was
getting it published. An agent
(now deceased) had it for four years and as far as I can determine never showed
it to anyone of note. Later, when
an editor became interested at Putnam, it took another two years to come out.
You started off by writing the Joe Pickett series but have
since written a number of standalones. What initially made you decide to write
a series and what then made you want to write standalones?
The decision to do a
series was based on what the publisher wanted. I certainly never sat down and declared, “The world needs a
series about a Wyoming game warden!” After my editor read Open Season,
she offered a contract for two more books featuring Joe Pickett. So the series was born, and I’m glad it
was. I do stand-alones because
there are subjects that simply don’t lend themselves to the series and I want
to stretch my wings a little. I
like doing both.
What makes a character real for you? Must you work everything out
about them before hand or do you just let it flow?
It’s all about motivation. Once the reader (and the writer) know
what motivates a character, the rest will flow.
Open Season when
it was published went on to win a slew of first novel awards. How do you feel
about the success of the Joe Pickett novels?
I’ve been astonished
and very pleased, especially since it took so long to get that first novel
published. I’ve been surprised
that issues portrayed in the books (endangered species, energy development,
resource management) have international appeal when I’ve always thought of them
as very local.
What is it about the Joe Pickett series that makes them so
popular and had you considered that this might happen?
I can’t say I know
that answer exactly. It certainly
wasn’t planned. A protagonist who
is a state employee, who is happily married with daughters, and who makes
mistakes certainly doesn’t fit the genre very well. But I’ve been heartened that the character and the series
have struck a chord with so many readers.
How would you describe your Joe Pickett novels to someone who is about
to read them for the first time?
The novels are contemporary
western novels featuring a Wyoming game warden confronting large-scale issues
in a small-town setting.
With the Joe Pickett series you tend to use an issue/controversy or
premise as a background? For
example in Open Season it is the
Endangered Species Act. Why did you decide to do this?
I think novels – whether they
are in the crime genre or otherwise – should be about something. I
when a reader gets to the last page and closes the book he/she thinks they’ve
not only been somewhere exotic and interesting, but they know more about a
controversial topic than they did when they started the book. I don’t write agenda books, but I do
try to present both sides of an issue accurately and let the reader come down
where they may.
Plot or character? Which do you think is the most important and why?
A successful novel can’t have
one without the other, so the answer is: both.
What was the impetus for the different stories in your standalone
Blue Heaven came about when I learned that thousands of ex-LA cops
had sold their homes in California and moved to remote and rural North
Idaho. The combination of big-city
cops in a backwoods setting seemed like an explosive combination, and the story
was hatched. Three Weeks To Say Goodbye is a horrific
story of an adoption gone horribly bad. It’s based on something that happened to some friends of mine.
In Three Weeks to Say Goodbye
the Brit Malcolm Harris is one of the most unappealing that I have read about
in a long while. Did you have fun creating the character and is he based on
anyone that you know?
Ha! No, he isn’t based on anyone I know. But he certainly is awful, isn’t
he? I actually toned him down from
the first draft because he was so dark he nearly took over the book.
Who were your influences when you decided to start writing? Do other
books still influence your writing and if so what other types of writing are
you attracted to?
My favourite author is Thomas
McGuane, who is the best stylist I’ve ever read. I’m also a fan of Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor,
Raymond Chandler, A.B. Guthrie, and Joseph Heller. How’s that for eclectic?
Were you a reader of crime fiction before you started writing it and
if so can you remember the very first crime novel that you read?
Yes, although I didn’t really
know it at the time. The first
“crime” books I read were a series for kids about a junior detective named Encyclopaedia Brown. I ate them up.
Do you still find time to read and if so have you got any authors that
you prefer to read now?
I read constantly. In addition to the above authors, I
love John Sandford, my fishing buddy T. Jefferson Parker, Deon Meyer, Denise
Mina, Tom Wolfe, Richard Russo, Ivan Doig, Daniel Woodrell, Megan Abbott, and
Richard Price, to name a few.
Where do you find it the easiest to write and why?
My cabin on the bank of the
Encampment River is my favourite place to write. When I take a break I walk out the door with my fly-rod and
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Fly-fishing, running my dogs,
or just hanging around with my wife.
What do you find the most difficult when you are writing?
Finding the time between too
many book tours and events.
You have had a wide variety of jobs – a reporter, ranch hand, and
fishing guide to name a few. Has
this had an impact on your writing?
Sometimes I think everything I
did helped me build the framework and provide the experience and background for
You appear to be a person who loves the outdoors. Has this had an impact on the way in
which Joe Picket is as a character?
Sure! I’m comfortable in the outdoors and have participated in
most of the activities Joe Pickett gets involved in: hiking, trekking, skiing,
snowmobiling, riding horses, etc.
In Blue Heaven one of the
issues that seems to come across is the fact that it appears that the ranching
way of life appears to be disappearing. Is this really the case and what do you
believe the reason for this is?
I also explore this in a couple
of the Joe Pickett books. The
“traditional” family ranch is going the way of the traditional family
farm. It’s very difficult for
individuals to manage large-scale ranches and pass them on to their
children. Many ranches these days
are owned by wealthy out-of-state owners who hire foremen to run the ranches
and they don’t have the same kind of emotional investment in the land than the
former owners. Plus, real-estate
in some of the most beautiful places in the Rocky Mountains is worth much more
to developers than to cowboys.
How do you find the time to do the volunteer work that you do for the
Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo? As I understand it you also sit on the board of
I did my time on the board of
directors but now I’m retired. I
do still volunteer for the largest outdoor rodeo in the world – Cheyenne Frontier Days. It’s something I love to be involved
Is there anything that you wish to do that you are yet to find the
time to do it?
Believe it or not, I’m doing
what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m
If you hadn’t written the Joe Pickett series and the standalones is
there anything else you would have wanted to write?
I’m mulling the idea of an
historical novel about the mountain-man era in the US. But if I ever did it, it would be very
different from any other kind of book of that type.
How do you manage to balance all that you do?
I don’t know.
What are you off to do once you have finished this interview?
I’m answering these questions
from a hotel in New York City. I’m
starting the book tour for the newest Joe Pickett novel, Cold Wind, tomorrow.
What are you working on at the moment?
The next Joe Pickett novel,
called (for now) Force of Nature. It’ll be primarily about Nate
Romanowski, the outlaw falconer. He’s an interesting character to write.
your relationship with Joe Pickett like?
I like him very much and I
have no doubt he’d happily write me a ticket if I did something wrong.
Part and parcel of being a crime
writer is all the camaraderie that you get within the crime fiction genre. Do
you enjoy going to conferences and book signings?
Yes. I’ve made some
wonderful friends among both writers and readers. It’s a terrific group of people.
Where is the best place that you have ever held a signing?
I once did a signing at a place called Discount Liquors in Wheatland, Wyoming.
It is clear that you love Wyoming where you grew up and where you
live, but if you had to live elsewhere where would it be and why?
OK, now for some off-the-wall questions: What one luxury item would
you take away with you if you were marooned on a desert island?
My iPhone. Or a huge roll of duct tape.
If Joe Pickett could invite five people to dinner whom would they be
Good Lord. Maybe Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain,
Raymond Chandler, Flanner O’Connor, and Winston Churchill. I’m sure I wouldn’t get a word in
If you could choose five crime characters, dead or alive, whom you
could take to dinner whom would they be and why?
Joe Pike, Nate Romanowski, Jack
Reacher, Lucas Davenport, and The Preacher from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I’d be curious to see who would emerge
If I were to look in Joe Pickett’s fridge what three things would I
Elk steaks, eggs, and bacon.
What are you reading at the moment?
Ha! A Life, by Keith Richards.
Any last words?
You’ve worn me out. I need a drink.
Thank you very
The C J Box Set
Corvus has announced an unprecedented roll-out of twelve new books by the multi award-winning US crime writer C.J. Box in a single year. Corvus is set to publish one book a month from Box's New York Times bestselling 'Joe Pickett' series in 2011. Togetherwith the paperback publication of the 2009 Edgar award-winning Blue Heaven in January and a new stand-alone novel in August, the ground-breaking venture shows a major commitment by Corvus to publishing C.J. Box in the UK.
Publisher Nicolas Cheetham says: 'Every crime writer needs a series character, and Corvus has the great pleasure of introducing Joe Pickett to the growing number of C.J. Box's British fans. The Joe Pickett books are addictive, each instalment surpasses the last, and that's saying something when the first book, Open Season, won nearly every crime writing award in the USA. You shouldn't have to wait for something this good, so we're publishing the Pickett novels in quick succession. The best way to watch a hit TV series is to buy the box set and watch them all at once... Why shouldn't it be the same for books? In more ways than one, this is the ultimate Box set.'
Cheetham first introduced C.J. Box to the UK, acquiring three stand alone novels, when he launched the Corvus list in 2009. Box's use of very normal everyday characters placed in extraordinary situations has already proved a big hit with male and female readers in the US. Now, his captivating, morally complex and exceptionally written series featuring Wyoming game-warden Joe Pickett should find a broad and dedicated fan base – and as Cheetham says 'should catapult him into the major league of thriller writers in the UK.'
C.J. Box will make his first ever UK tour in July 2011 and will appear at Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate in the run up to the publication of his new stand alone book, Back of Beyond.
Have you been tempted to read THREE WEEKS TO SAY GOODBYE? Why not sample Chapter One? Click HERE
More information on CJ Box, his Joe Pickett series and his standalone
novels can be found at:- http://www.cjbox.net