What: Author Craig Johnson discusses “Land of Wolves”

When: 5 p.m. Sept. 21

Where: Three Rivers School, 56900 Enterprise Dr, Sunriver

Cost: Included with purchase of “Land of Wolves” from Sunriver Books & Music

Contact: sunriverbooks.com or 541-593-2525

The popular Western crime series “Longmire” ran for six seasons. It’s still popular on Netflix despite having called it a wrap two years ago.

Not all fans of the show, which starred Robert Taylor as Sheriff Walt Longmire alongside a talented cast — including Katee Sackhoff and Lou Diamond Phillips — find their way to the show’s source material: author Craig Johnson’s series of Longmire mysteries, set in rural (and fictitious) Absaroka County, Wyoming.

Readers who do, however, are often surprised by the sheriff’s sense of humor, as he’s depicted a little more somberly on the show.

As a former New York City cop, however, Johnson knows all about stressful lines of work.

“Whether it’s reporting at a newspaper, whether it’s being in the medical field, whether it’s law enforcement or whatever, anybody that’s had a tough job, and seen people at their best and seen people at their worst, at the end of the day, you’re going to do one of two things: You’re either going to laugh or you’re going to cry, and I know which one I’d rather do,” Johnson said.

“For me, it’s really kind of important for Walt to have that sense of humor. And an awful lot of law enforcement, whenever they’re reading the books, that’s what they really respond to, is the fact that Walt does have that sense of humor. That will keep you going, I think, a lot longer than a bulletproof vest will. I think it was in ‘The Cold Dish,’ Walt makes the remark, ‘They don’t make an emotional bulletproof vest,’” Johnson added. “You know, you’ve gotta deal with this stuff.”

Published in 2004, “The Cold Dish” was the first book in the Longmire series. Fifteen years have passed, and “Land of Wolves,” coming Tuesday from Viking, will mark the 15th book in the series. This installment finds Longmire still healing from wounds incurred in Mexico in the last book, “Depth of Winter,” while looking into the death of a shepherd that’s complicated by the presence of a quite large wolf.

Being the sheriff means “Walt does not have the luxury of just (doing) a homicide investigation … that all he does is look after the one case,” Johnson said.

In fact, he intentionally modeled the fictitious Durant, county seat of Absaroka, after the Wyoming town of Buffalo — albeit with about half the population. If it were much bigger, it would have a police department. Instead, Longmire is pulled in various directions, which opens the aperture of the stories a little wider.

Johnson could envision adding the complication of a police department in the future, “But for now, he’s pretty much it, and is kind of exemplary of what sheriffing is all about. It’s a very community-oriented kind of law enforcement,” he said. “He’s an elected law-enforcement official. He pretty much has to take care of everything. I have to weave that into the story lines whenever I’m writing the books. Yeah, there will be the major case that he’s working on, but then, they still are going to be responsible for court security, hanging up Christmas lights, all these crazy things that sheriffs are also responsible for.”

Johnson’s a busy man when a new book drops, and Sept. 21, his book tour will stop in Sunriver, where he’s long enjoyed a relationship with Sunriver Books and Music. Shop owner Deon Stonehouse was and is an ardent supporter of Johnson’s books. He’s pretty certain it was she who approached his publisher about the possibility of his first visiting the store a decade and a half ago.

“When you’re a cowboy author from a town of 25, you’re not going to get any big, huge national tour,” he said. What’s more, the book published in January, and he was liable to get snowed-in flying between bookstores on the “local” author tour — that is, a tour of Wyoming, which was all his publisher had arranged for him.

“They had me flying in and out of Casper and Gillette in January, and that’s just not going to happen,” he said. “So I said, ‘Well, look, I’ve got this three-quarter-ton, diesel, four-wheel drive pick-up truck. I’ll just drive the tour.”

That allowed him to get much farther afield. Sunriver Books was on that original tour. “I think there were maybe a dozen bookstores (total),” Johnson said.

Though his star has risen considerably higher in the years since, he has returned to Sunriver frequently, thanks in part to Stonehouse’s past efforts.

“You remember that, and you appreciate that, because now that there’s a TV show, and the books have been translated into 17 languages and all these things have been happening, you still remember the booksellers who were behind you when you were — and I still am — a little cowboy author from a town of 25. I’ll always go to Sunriver for as long as Deon will have me,” he said, laughing. “We’ll see how long that’ll last.”

It will likely be a long while. Johnson is so popular in Central Oregon that his event — the store’s biggest of the year, Stonehouse said — won’t happen at Sunriver Books. Instead, it’s being held at nearby Three Rivers School in Sunriver.

Johnson isn’t kidding about the size of his home of Ucross, Wyoming. In fact, it’s not quite 25 any longer — that’s just the official number.

“It’s gone down. There are only 19 people in Ucross,” Johnson said, chuckling. “We’re actually smaller than the sign. It’s just that the signs are expensive, and so the state won’t change them unless you get to a certain percentage. … If you get much smaller than 19, I don’t know if you’re a town anymore, so I’m just as glad for them to leave it as is.”

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