Author Spotlight: John Lindermuth

Today I’m pleased to welcome (back) author John Lindermuth. John, a writer from Pennsylvania, has been on the blog before and he’s here this week with news of a recent release, Twelve Days in the Territory.

If you need a refresher on John’s other books, look here (In Silence Sealed), here (The Tithing Herd), and here (Something So Divine).

He’s here today to answer my questions about his new release and at the end I’ll post the link to my review.

Welcome, John!

Congratulations on the release of Twelve Days in the Territory. Tell us about the book.

It takes place in the autumn of 1887 and begins with the botched robbery of a mercantile store in a small town in Arkansas. Martha Raker, a young woman doing inventory in the store with her father, is taken hostage by the outlaws who flee into Indian Territory, what is now the state of Oklahoma, but was then the government’s dumping ground for the subdued Native Americans and a place of refuge for all manner of rogues.

Martha happens to be the niece of Isaac Gillette, the local sheriff. Gillette is determined to pursue the outlaws and rescue Martha despite having no jurisdiction in the territory. Will Burrows, a mild-mannered school teacher, is the only man in the town who volunteers to join Gillette. The sheriff doubts Will’s suitability for the task, but the young man who has been courting Martha insists he must go. Yet even Will has doubts about his qualifications and harbors a secret which raises his fears of what they’ll face in the Territory.

Martha is a strong-willed young woman who will show courage and tenacity in the will to survive, confident in the belief she will not be abandoned by the man she loves or by her uncle. All three will face trials the like of which they’ve never known before and they soon discover Crawford McKinney, the outlaw holding Martha, is the least of their troubles.

How did you choose the date of 1887 as the time period for Twelve Days?

It was an arbitrary choice but, fortunately, proved to be the right one. I mention in the story early incidents of the intrusion of land- and mineral-hungry speculators in the Indian Territory, a situation which led up to the government-sponsored land rush of 1889.

Where did your interest in writing Western novels originate?

My mother said, when she was carrying me, she read a steady diet of paperback westerns and western romances. Whether that had any influence on my future reading is questionable. I do know my dad had a lot of books. I was an early reader and I had my choice of what was on the shelves, which included non-fiction, what we now call classic literature, and popular novels. I read everything. Among the Western writers I remember fondly from that time are Jack London, Zane Grey (who, incidentally, began his writing career in Pennsylvania), James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking series, the short stories and poems of Bret Harte, Emerson Hough, among others. The list expanded over the years.

I didn’t initially set out to write Westerns. After focusing mainly on mysteries, I had some ideas which fall into this genre. My goal always is to write what I hope readers will see as a good story. I believe that’s what readers really want and don’t particularly care how booksellers categorize it.

I know you are a keen student of history. It seems like your interests in both history and in the Western territories dovetail nicely. Care to elaborate?

Our ancestors have been ‘westering’ since arriving on these shores. The frontier moved with them. So it all fits together. Some fans of westerns might be surprised to discover things like Indian wars, fur trapping, bison hunts, branding, cattle drives and other things considered ‘western’ all began in the eastern states/provinces of the U.S. and Canada.

You have so much going on right now. In addition to the release of Twelve Days, you are re-releasing Fallen From Grace and Sooner than Gold, (books 1 and 2 in the Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman series) titles that were formerly published by Oak Tree Press. Tell us about those books.

I conceived these books, which are set in a fictional Pennsylvania county, as historical mysteries.  But Billie Johnson, publisher, and Sunny Frazier, then acquisition editor, at Oak Tree viewed them as in the western mode and promoted them as such. After Billie’s death I regained the rights and I’m happy Lawrence Knorr my publisher at Sunbury Press has agreed to reissue them. Sunbury Press published The Bartered Body, third in the series, in 2018.

What’s something about Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman that would surprise readers?

Syl is always more interested in getting to the truth rather than just putting a person behind bars. His compassion often lands him in trouble, even danger.

You have had a long career in journalism. How do you think your work as a newspaper journalist has informed your fiction writing?

You have had a long career in journalism. How do you think your work as a newspaper journalist has informed your fiction writing?

What kinds of books do you like to read?

I have eclectic taste. Looking at a list of books read in the past year, I see a preponderance of mystery/suspense and historical fiction. But there’s also a mix of other genre. The main things I look for in fiction of any kind are engaging characters and a plot that stirs my curiosity. In non-fiction I focus heavily on history, science and biography.

What does your workday look like?

I try to write every day, though I don’t set a word goal. I’d rather have 100 good words than 1,000 bad ones. I do keep a daily log of words written on a project, which gives me an idea of how it’s going. Since I’m at the historical society three days a week, I tend to write more and longer on the alternate days and weekends. But even when I’m not actually putting words on paper, I may be thinking about a character or plot. I consider this writing, too.

What’s next for you?

There’s never a shortage of ideas. I’m usually working on something–a novel, a short story, or an article. Currently, I’m dividing time between another in the Syl series, a western, and a non-fiction project that’s been neglected too long.

Thanks so much for being my guest here today, John. I wish you much success with Twelve Days in the Territory. I have read the book and enjoyed it, so anyone who wishes to read my review can click here and be taken straight to it. Click here to grab your own copy of Twelve Days in the Territory.

John’s Biography

J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. A retired newspaper editor, he is now librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. He has published 19 novels and two non-fiction regional histories. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Until next time,