Correction: The original version of this story said author C.J. Box is "asked about his famous sheriff regularly at book signings." Box's primary recurring character, Joe Pickett, is a game warden, not a sheriff. The mistake was due to reporter error. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle apologizes for the error.

C.J. Box is quick to let people know that there will be a new Joe Pickett coming out next year.

He’s asked about his famous game warden regularly at his book signings. But the questions about Pickett have ramped up lately, due to the fact that he’s releasing the latest entry in the Cassie Dewell series.

“There are some people who come to my signings that are more into Joe Pickett and some prefer the standalones,” he said. “I’m basically working on two series, which I didn’t plan on doing. But I’m about a chapter and a half away from finishing the next Joe Pickett novel, so people who ask me about that at the signings can start anticipating it.”

Fans of Box’s writing (and he has plenty of them, especially in the Front Range area) can get the chance to hear him speak and obtain a signed copy of his latest novel, “The Bitterroots,” on Aug. 20 when he will appear at the Laramie County Library.

This is the fourth novel in the Cassie Dewell series, but as mentioned earlier, Box didn’t intend to create a second series. However, he enjoys writing about Cassie so much that he likes to return to her stories every couple of years.

She first debuted in the 2013 novel “The Highway.” While Box figured that book would just be a standalone title he penned in the midst of working on one of the many Joe Pickett ones, the reception from readers was overwhelmingly positive.

“People seem to really like her, which is one of the reasons I enjoy coming back to her,” he said. “I probably will write another book in her series, but it’s still a little too early to say. I’m focused on writing another Joe Pickett book at this moment.”

“The Bitterroots” follows Cassie starting her own private practice after getting out of police work. After an old friend contacts Cassie, asking for help to exonerate a young man who’s accused of assaulting a woman from an influential family, Cassie heads to the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana to dig up the truth.

While the book is a part of a series, that doesn’t mean you need to have read the other three stories to pick this one up. However, Box did admit that if you’ve read the other books in Cassie’s series, the experience will be richer.

He intentionally writes both Cassie and Joe’s series for new readers to be able to come into the story and understand what’s going on. Many times, a new fan will check out his current new story, then go back to the beginning.

To make sure he did as much as he could to perfect the story, Box went up to the Montana mountains to do research. While he was going to create a fictional place, he still wanted to make sure that his readers could recognize the area, especially if they were from there.

While his wife and daughters are always his go-to first readers with all of his books, Box credited them for helping him shape Cassie into a well-rounded character.

“If I got something wrong about being a woman, they’re going to tell me,” he joked. “I definitely have to get into a different mindset when I’m writing Cassie’s books, though. But I wanted her to be different from Joe. She’s a bit of a bulldog. She’s a single mother. She gets to travel around the west, whereas Joe is a state employee. I want to make Cassie both sympathetic and realistic.”

Ellen Fike is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at 307-633-3135 or efike@wyomingnews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.

Ellen Fike is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at efike@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter @EllenLFike

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