Box opens up about newest Pickett novel


C.J. Box talks to participants at the Saratoga Museum's "Who is Joe Pickett" Trivia Night. Box has written his 15th Joe Pickett novel "Endangered" and is hitting the road as the newest addition to the Joe Pickett series is released to the public this week.

I bumped into C.J. Box the other day as he was passing through town on his way to begin his latest book tour for his 15th Joe Pickett novel titled, "Endangered".

Of course, I had to take the opportunity to ask him a few questions about himself, Joe Pickett and the Valley that helped to inspire both.

The following conversation took place between this cub reporter and former Saratoga Sun reporter C.J. Box as the current New York Times best-selling author was heading out to appearances and books signings.

Q:Being relatively new to the Valley and the job of reporting, I have to ask about how you came to work at the Saratoga Sun and what first drew you to the Platte River Valley?

A:I was straight out of Denver University with a journalism degree when I interviewed for a reporter position on the Saratoga Sun with then-owner and publisher Dick Perue. The interview took place in a jon boat and we fished and drank beer. By the time it was over I would have paid Dick for the job.

Q:What role does the Platte River community still play in the inspiration for the goings on over in Ten Sleep County?

A: I still draw on my years there for material and background for the Joe Pickett books, and I first thought of the idea of a game warden as the protagonist while doing ride-alongs with then local warden Gary Brown.

Q: Do you have any advice for a new reporter of your alma mater about covering the Valley and Carbon County?

A: By working for the Sun, I was able to interview very interesting people and characters from all walks of life and be in the middle of situations and controversies. I still advise aspiring writers that they should consider working at a newspaper instead of staying in college and getting a degree in creative writing.

Q:Joe Pickett starts out in a field of murdered sage grouse in your latest book, "Endangered". What is it about a particular Wyoming or Carbon County environmental issue that sparks your interest or helps you decide to include it in your novels or stories?

A:Anyone paying attention the last few years knows that if the federal government declares sage grouse an endangered species it would have a big impact on the State of Wyoming, so that is one of the sub-plots in "ENDANGERED". I think it's interesting and important to include real issues and controversies into the novels so readers can learn both sides. Plus, the sub-plot runs parallel with the primary story-line in the book about Joe's middle daughter.

Q:How do you think Joe Pickett has grown or changed over the years and his adventures as he heads into his latest adventure?

A:I think Joe Pickett and his family have grown and changed over the years because the novels take place in real time. In the first book, "OPEN SEASON", Joe's oldest daughter Sheridan is 7 years old. In "ENDANGERED", she's attending the University of Wyoming.

Q:Lee Child has called you, "One of today's solid-gold, A-list, must read writers". What would Joe Pickett think of Lee Child's alter-ego, Jack Reacher if the two ever crossed paths on a case. Of course, the nerd in me has to ask, is there any chance of a Pickett/Reacher team-up?

A:I've spent time with Lee Child and he's a good guy.  My wife and I hung out with him and Michael Connelly at a book festival in France for nearly a week several years ago. Nonetheless, I can't imagine Joe Pickett and Jack Reacher crossing paths. And if Reacher and Nate Romanowski ever faced off it could get wild.

Q:According to your website, "Blue Heaven" has been optioned for a movie and there are some possible deals with TV's David E. Kelley and with one of Robert Redford's film companies. Is there anything new you can tell us about the possibility of seeing Joe Pickett on the big or small screen anytime soon? If Joe Pickett were to jump off the pages into the film/television medium. Who would you like to see play him if you could choose anyone?

A:There are currently two television projects in the works in different stages of development, as you mentioned. We'll see. And when it comes to an actor playing Joe Pickett: who knows? I think of Joe as a Wyoming game warden and not an actor.

C.J. Box's latest novel, "Endangered" hit the shelves on Tuesday and the second annual Joe Pickett Trivia Challenge will be held on May 23 hosted by the Saratoga Museum.


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