C.J. Box: A Wyoming Original

For each of his book signings, C.J. Box quietly parks outside a main entrance and walks in with an unassuming manner. He strolls down the hallway, clad in a suit jacket, a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and a cowboy hat, jovially greeting the last minute stragglers who are still trying to find a seat in the jam-packed room. He doesn’t bring a publicist, or an assistant; he brings family members and friends instead. He always waits patiently by the entrance to the Cottonwood Room, smiling at people who walk by and waving to those he knows in the crowd. Indeed, he looks like many of the attendees, a local, down-to-earth Wyomingite, which, of course, he is, but unlike most of his fellow Wyoming residents, Box has legions of fans who eagerly applaud him as he takes the stage to speak about his latest novel.

He fits in well at Laramie County Library, not just with its patrons but with the building itself. The library’s meeting rooms are named after flora and fauna native to the region such as Willow, Cottonwood and Sage, and the colors on the wall mimic a prairie in bloom with soft greens, vibrant yellows, and deep purples, reflections of the landscapes that Box so often writes about in his best-selling novels.

Box’s books fly off of the library’s shelves when they are released; people rush into the building to check out the latest novel or to put a hold on the next available copy. He is by far one of the library’s most popular authors; in fact, 5 out of our top 10 circulated titles are C.J. Box novels, and he is our third most circulated author, beaten only by Mary Pope Osborne and James Patterson.

Laramie County Library is privileged to host Box frequently, and for each event his crowd of fans grows larger. He is a prolific writer who has penned 27 novels, occasionally releasing two new books in the span of a single year. His latest appearance at the library on August 20th drew over 200 people, and Barnes & Noble sold out of copies of The Bitterroots halfway through the evening. Nearly every attendee waited to get a book signed in a line that went around the room, out the door, and down the hallway.

During the two hour event on August 20th, attendees asked Box to sign different books, t-shirts, and audiobook cases. They asked him different questions about his writing process, told him different stories about themselves, and thanked him for his time in different ways, but they all had one distinct thing in common; each and every person left his table with a smile on their face. In fact, that has always been the resounding consistency in each of Box’s book signings at the library, his ability to connect with the people who come to see him. He is a Wyoming local, he can talk to his fans about fishing, hunting, mutual friends, or the best local restaurant, and his fans love his ability to put their home state and Rocky Mountain region to the page.

Box’s novels resonate with Wyomingites. His characters walk like his fans, talk like his fans, and live like his fans, and people are always thrilled to find out that C.J. Box himself does too. As a Wyoming resident, there is something very satisfying about meeting C.J. Box and realizing that both the novels and the author represent the state of Wyoming so very well.

~Kasey S.