Saturday, April 13, 2013

A VISIT WITH JOHN LINDERMUTH


Note: This week’s post is part of a monthly series in which I take pleasure in introducing fiction writers whom I’ve read and admired. I’m pleased to present J. R. Lindermuth, a prolific author of historical mystery thrillers. I recently read his novel Watch the Hour, set in Pennsylvania’s coal mining country in the 1870s. It’s a tale of class struggle, forbidden love, and vengeful death. Great reading. I recommend it highly, and I know I’m going to read a lot more of John Lindermuth’s work in coming months and years. Lucky for us all, John writes book after book!
I asked J. R. Lindermuth to contribute a piece for this blog, telling us what “The Joy of Story” means to him. He has written about the pleasures of scouting out locations for his historical thrillers.
I turn the mike over to J. R. Lindermuth.

Location, location, location.

That’s the theme in real estate, and I believe it applies equally to fiction. Certainly character is essential to story. But our characters don’t exist in a vacuum. If we want them to be believable, they must have place.

I love the challenge of creating the right place for my characters.

Though they realize a story is fiction, most readers demand a semblance of truth—even if your story is pure fantasy. They want what they’re reading to seem realistic. Should they note something they know to be false, the writer is certain to hear about it. Lester Dent, a prolific and masterful pulp writer, urged the use of a familiar locale, one in which you’ve lived or worked, to avoid the embarrassment of making mistakes obvious to the reader.

You can also resolve the problem through research—either through experience (the best kind) or by other means. Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County doesn’t exist save in our minds, but I’ll wager more than one reader has gone looking for it on maps. In many ways, setting has the same aspects as another character and the two can complement one another.

My Sticks Hetrick mystery series is set in a town of my creation, which meant I was free to lay out the streets, describe the homes and other structures and develop businesses as I saw fit. In a review of one of them, Judy Clemens, author of the Grim Reaper and Crown mystery series, said I did “…a wonderful job of bringing his fictional small Pennsylvania town to life by getting us into the minds of a multitude of characters.” Coming from a writer for whom I have great respect, I believe I did my homework on this one.

I made the job a bit more difficult for myself with the Sylvester Tilghman series, which is set in Arahpot, a fictional Pennsylvania town in a different time period—the late 19th century. Since I love research nearly as much as writing, enhanced by my experience in the newspaper business and as a genealogist, it has been more of a joy than a challenge.



Sooner Than Gold is a sequel to Fallen From Grace and the second in the Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman historical mystery series. Check it out:

It’s the summer of 1898. The nation, just coming out of an economic slump, has been at war with Spain since April. And Sylvester Tilghman, sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, has a murder victim with too many enemies.

There’s Claude Kessler, who is found standing with a knife in his hand over the body of Willis Petry.

There’s Rachel Webber, Petry’s surly teen-aged stepdaughter, who admits an act intended to cause him harm.

Then there’s the band of gypsies who claim Petry is the goryo who stole one of their young women.

If this isn’t enough to complicate Tilghman’s life, add in threats to his job by McClean Ruppenthal, former town burgess; a run-in with a female horse thief; scary predictions by a gypsy fortuneteller, and the theft of Doc Mariner’s new motorcar.

There’s plenty of good eating, church-going and socializing along the way. And, before all is over, Sylvester solves the crime and even comes a little closer to his goal of finally marrying longtime girlfriend Lydia Longlow.

Sooner Than Gold has just been published by Oak Tree Press.


The author of 12 novels, J. R. Lindermuth is a retired newspaper editor and currently serves as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. His short stories and articles have been published in a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers, EPIC and the Short Mystery Society. His two children and four grandsons do their best to keep him busy and out of trouble. When not writing, reading or occupied with family he likes to walk, draw, listen to music and learn something new every day.

19 comments:

  1. John, I love both of your series. I thoroughly enjoyed "Fallen from Grace" and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, "Sooner Than Gold."

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    1. Thanks, Pat. Words any writer loves to hear.

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  2. Great interview! I make up my locations too though they have a strong resemblance to real towns in the area. Loved reading how you do it!

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    1. I think people in my area would see some similarity with places they know, too. Thanks for commenting, Marilyn.

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  3. All of my work has a strong setting as backdrop although, like you, I make up the towns and villages. I think research makes for a more vibrant story in a mystery. You say your newest has "good eating" in it? Well, then I'm there. There's nothing like great food and a good murder.

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    1. Lots of good food, beer and murder in your A Deadly Draught, which I'm currently enjoying.

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  4. Roxe Anne PeacockApril 13, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    Great post, John. I enjoyed your Sticks Hetrick series and look forward to reading more of your books. Researching the location for my books excites me and takes the longest. Best of luck with your new release.

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  5. I'll have to check this out. I really enjoyed Fallen from Grace, so it will be nice to see what Tilghman is up to these days!

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  6. John, thanks much for contributing such a fine post to my blog. And judging from the traffic so far, you have a big fan club. Bravo!

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    1. Thanks to you for offering the opportunity, John.

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  7. I love setting as a character in my books. This is a nice post about setting and research to make your book stand out. Good luck!

    Mary Montague Sikes

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  8. Great post, John, and one I completely agree with. When I give a workshop on character, I say that location is actually a character in the book and must be given as much thought as a central character. Your books clealry show you give location a high degree of importance. Thanks for a good read.

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  9. This was an excellent post! I really appreciate you sharing this character stuff with me. I spend a ton of time on my development of characters. Bringing location into this discussion was brilliant.

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  10. Excellent post, John! Setting is almost as important as the characters, and sometimes even more so. Thank you!
    Marja McGraw

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  11. Great meeting you John, and thanks for introducing me to John, John. (smile) So agree about location, and your book sounds wonderful. Added to my TBR list. Much success!!!

    Madeline

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  12. I've been reading about John and his new book, and I'm glad to meet up with him again here on your blog, John. I wish him much good luck with this and future books!

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