Guest Author of the Month
I'm very pleased to introduce our Guest Author for this month. He is John Lindermuth who writes the Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman series for Wild Oaks,the Western line of Oak Tree Press. Please welcome John and I hope you enjoy learning all about him.
BEVERLEY: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
JOHN: I spent nearly 40 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, working a variety of beats and on several desks. During that period I published short stories and articles in a variety of magazines, but didn’t succeed in placing a novel until after I’d retired. Sooner Than Gold, will be my 12th published novel.
Since retiring, I’ve been librarian of my county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. As you know, writing is a reclusive pursuit. My work at the library puts me in touch with people and is a wonderful resource for ideas.
BEVERLEY: How long have you been writing and why did you start to write?
JOHN: Curiosity about people, places and things had me creating stories long before I ever started putting them down on paper. But that step must have begun early, too, since I discovered some grade school notebooks with stories in the attic when I moved back into my childhood home.
BEVERLEY: I know you write Mystery and you’re writing a series. Why did you choose this genre? Did you plot your Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman series before you wrote book one? Or did you decide later?
JOHN: I had written two short stories with Tilghman. The character intrigued me and began demanding a book. Characters can be like that. They pop up in our imagination, develop personalities and begin asserting themselves.
BEVERLEY: Tell me a little about S00NER THAN GOLD, the second in your Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman mystery series.
If that isn’t enough to complicate Tilghman’s life, add in threats to his job by a local politician, a run-in with a female horse thief, scary predictions by a gypsy fortuneteller, claims of illegal gambling, and the theft of his friend’s new motorcar.
BEVERLEY: Where did you get the idea for the first book?
JOHN: I still write a weekly history column for my local newspaper. Researching in period newspapers I came across accounts of murders involving arsenic and the ease with which this and other dangerous substances could be obtained in the 19th century. I think that provided the initial spark.
BEVERLEY: Do you have plans for further books in the series?
JOHN: Who knows? It depends on what Tilghman decides to whisper in my ear.
BEVERLEY: What comes first for you - character or plot?
JOHN: Some believe plot to be the essence of story. I beg to differ. Every story begins and ends with character. We remember Sherlock Holmes, not the plot of individual stories in the series; Long John Silver; The Count of Monte Cristo; The Three Musketeers; Ripley. Need I go on? Plot is nothing more than the path a character takes and which urges us to follow.
BEVERLEY: What's your biggest challenge when writing - hooks, sagging middles, other?
JOHN: I’m more of a pantser than an outliner. That is, I generally know how a story will end but don’t have every detail from beginning to conclusion writ in stone. Occasionally I will get stuck in the middle. It’s usually not a big problem, though. I’ll switch to another project, go for a long walk or otherwise divert myself until the problem works itself out in my sub-conscious.
BEVERLEY: How do you fit in reading, research, online lists, social networking, etc.?
JOHN: It can be a challenge. But it’s all necessary, so you make time. Since I live alone, I can read at meals, in lieu of TV, or in bed as much as I want. I usually check emails and do some social networking first thing in the morning and again, in the evening before shutting off the computer.
BEVERLEY: What kind of books do you enjoy reading? And who are your favorite writers?
JOHN: Obviously, mysteries and thrillers are a priority. But I also like historical fiction (including Westerns) and non-fiction on topics that stir my curiosity. I’ve always been a voracious reader and I’m constantly finding new writers to admire—including many who aren’t on the big bestseller lists. Some must-reads on my personal list would include James Lee Burke, Ruth Rendell and Bernard Cornwell.
BEVERLEY: How important do you feel social networking is for an author? Do you spend much time marketing? And what do you feel works best for you?
JOHN: Marketing for many of us is a chore and not a pleasure. Most of us would rather spend the time writing. But it’s a necessity if we want people to read our stuff. And social networking is a big part of that process today. Name recognition is key. Ignore it and you’re just another voice in the wilderness. The joy is in finding people who like your work and spread the word to their friends. I’m not sure anything else works better.
JOHN: There is no magic formula. There’s only work and persistence. As Dumas put it a long time ago, “Writing can not be taught; it can only be learned.” Stephen King said much the same thing: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
BEVERLEY: What do you do for fun and relaxation?
JOHN: I enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren. I also like to walk, draw, listen to music, do genealogy, watch films, browse at flea markets and visit historic sites. Did I mention, read?
BEVERLEY: Thanks John. I hope everyone enjoyed learning all about John this month and his latest book that comes out in March.
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