Think outside the box - a chat with the great C.J. Box
C.J. Box is a living legend. He has won the Anthony Award, the Prix
Calibre .38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry
Award, the Edgar Award and been an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist. He has even been nominated for the IMPAC prize.
We were absolutely thrilled to catch up with C.J. recently for a chat
about books, writing, and what he’s working on next. (It involves Cody
Hoyt, so we’re happy).
What was the first crime novel or story you can remember reading? How old were you?
It was probably a young adult novel in the Encyclopedia Brown series. He was a teenage sleuth. I remember the librarians feeding me book after book when I showed interest.
Do you have a favourite crime series (be it book, TV or film)? What do you love about it/them?
Wow — I don’t know if I can choose one over all the others. I’m a huge fan of series written by Michael Connelly, John Sandford, and James Lee Burke.
When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Are there any authors in particular who you would cite as inspiration/influence?
I realized it early on but I didn’t know what I wanted to write
exactly. I never really thought about writing a crime series or
thrillers and I still don’t. I write books that interest me and I hope
readers will enjoy. The book that really got me going was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It’s still one of my favorites. And I don’t write anything even close to it.
The wild landscape is vividly drawn in your books –
practically a character in its own right. Is that a conscious literary
device, or does it spring simply from living close to the land yourself?
It’s what I know and love. In some ways, rural settings enhance the
suspense and tension rather than detract from it. For example, it’s
much easier to get lost in a crowd than it is to get lost in a town of
2,000 people. My settings are important and add elements to each novel,
whether extreme weather, or isolation, or wildlife. For example, Joe
Pickett rarely has backup in bad situations because he’s in locations
that are hard to get to. This adds an element of desperation that
wouldn’t exist in an urban location with cell phones and lots of other
law enforcement personnel.
Tell us when, and where, you do your writing?
I write in one of two places; a basement office in my home or at my
cabin on a river in Wyoming. Unlike the idealized location for writing
that includes lots of big windows and wonderful scenic views, I do my
best work stuck in a dark corner. Otherwise, I’d spend all my time
gazing outside to look at pronghorn antelope or to see if the trout are
If you could choose one of your characters to meet in real life, which would it be?
Probably Jess Rawlins, the rancher in BLUE HEAVEN. He is a noble man. [We agree. Much as we love Cody Hoyt, that would be a little like meeting a bear! - AU]
And finally, what are you working on now? Can you tell us a little about your next book? And will we be meeting Cody Hoyt again?
I just finished a Joe Pickett book called FORCE OF NATURE,
which focuses on his outlaw buddy Nate Romanowski. I think it’s a
really good one. I’m currently working on a thriller called THE HIGHWAY
featuring Cody Hoyt. The subject matter scares me. It’s about
long-haul truckers who are serial killers. [Squeeeeee!!!! - AU]