Interview with C.J.Box

Mike Barson: We are now 18 volumes along in the Joe Pickett saga, and he and the girls seem to be aging almost in real time. How old are you prepared to let Joe get? Hopefully the Wyoming Game Service doesn’t have an enforced age limit for its wardens.

C.J.Box: As you know, the novels happen in real time and Joe Pickett is now 52.  Not all of the books take place a year from the last (sometimes they’re a few months from the previous book or even back-to-back) so I foresee Joe Pickett going for a long time.  I think when Joe Pickett is ready to retire I likely will be as well.

MB: The ecological issue in this novel involves both eagles and falcons. Can you explain what the problem is, and how you researched it?

CB: The research in this instance came to me in the form of a series of emails from a married couple in Montana who are master falconers.  Mike and Jocelyn Barker obtained eagle permits from the feds years ago but they’ve not been able to hunt with new eagles for seven years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It’s the same puzzling circumstance with other master falconers throughout the country.  The falconers all talk to each other and they’ve got a couple of conspiracy theories as to why this has happened.

MB: Although Joe isn’t based on a particular person, you have admitted in your talks that the charismatic Nate Romanowski is. What can you reveal about his real-life inspiration?

CB: Nate is based on a friend of mine who was a year ahead of me in high school in Casper, Wyoming.  He was the big blond middle linebacker on the football team and he was also a falconer.  I went on falconry hunts with him and I’ve stayed in touch as he went to the Air Force Academy and on to Special Forces.  I learned about the unique life and culture of serious falconers through him.

MB: One of the key settings in THE DISAPPEARED is an EXTREMELY high-end dude ranch located not far from the town of Saratoga. Have you actually had personal experience with these attractions for the wealthy from both here and abroad?

CB: The Brush Creek Ranch (which I based the fictional Silver Creek Ranch upon) is located about fifteen minutes from our small ranch in Wyoming.  Brush Creek hosts politicians, celebrities, and very wealthy guests and they do it so well they’ve been named as the best resort in the world for four or five years running.  The management and staff there allowed me to interview them and research the facilities.  I found it all fascinating.

MB: The Joe Pickett series, as well as your stand-alone novels, seems ripe for film adaptation. And yet none has gotten off the launching pad. Has any progress been made in this area?

CB: Big news: a Joe Pickett television series is in development at Paramount Television as we speak.  Additionally, David E. Kelley is developing a series based on THE HIGHWAY for the Epic Network.

MB: If it ever were possible for you to collaborate with one of the mystery greats of the past, who would top your wish list?
CB: What a great question.  I’d probably opt for Raymond Chandler.  We’d likely not ever complete the book but drinking with him sounds like fun!