Someone once said to me that the best writers were once newspaper editors or journalists. I'm not sure that I would go that far (after all, I'm not one) but it's certainly true for John Lindermuth. Perhaps it's the ability to dig down to the truth, do the research, and pick out the elements that appeal to our emotions and natural curiosity.
Whatever it is, I'm fortunate to have John with us, today.
Why did you decide to write?
Like many writers, I was an early reader. Our community had no library until I was in high school. Fortunately, my dad had books ranging from the classics to mysteries and Westerns. As I got older, I started emulating some of the writers I admired. Eventually it became something I ‘had’ to do. When I entered the Army they recognized I had some ability and sent me to J-school. That provided a career which paid the bills as I learned to write fiction.
How much research do you do?
It depends on the project. For a modern mystery I’ll look into necessary aspects of police procedure, forensics, etc. I want enough information to be reasonably accurate, though I prefer not to bog down the story flow by getting too technical.
What’s your favorite method for researching?
The Internet has made it so much easier for most research. For historical subjects, though, I still like to explore sources like newspapers, magazines of the period. You can’t beat those for getting a feel for the period.
When do you write/what is your writing day like?
I try and write something every day. Life sometimes gets in the way but it’s like dieting or exercising—you can’t let excuses gain the upper hand or the battle is lost. Even if it’s no more than a few paragraphs, it’s important to keep up the flow.
What is the best advice someone has given you about writing? The worst advice?
The best advice I ever got came, indirectly, from an artist. My initial goal as a youth was to be an artist. I wrote Thomas Hart Benton and asked his advice. His reply was one word: “Paint.” I think the same formula applies to writing. I’m an empiricist. I believe the only way to learn anything is by doing it. I definitely agree with Charles Nodier who wrote—“A writer should read until he is filled to the brim and like a pitcher which is over-filled over flows. And then he should write.”
How do you approach a new book? Outlines? Just an idea?
How do you develop your characters?
They have a tendency to create themselves. I may think I know them, but they have a way of surprising me.
Who are your favorite authors? Have any authors inspired you or influenced your work?
I can’t really name one favorite writer; there are too many I admire and love reading. I’m sure I’ve been influenced to some degree by all. Some classic favorites include Poe, Melville, Emily Bronte, Twain, Dumas, Cervantes, Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London--the list goes on. Among modern writers I’d name Peter Matthiessen, John Fowles, Nabokov, Jim Harrison, and mystery writers like Charles Williford, Ruth Rendell and James Lee Burke—again the list goes on and I’m always discovering new writers (including many who aren’t famous) who make me envious.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Ray Bradbury once advised a person who wanted to write to stay away from college. In his opinion the only way to learn to write was to do it—everyday. His second bit of advice was to believe in oneself.
Where do you see yourself as an author in five years?
A best seller, film, fame and riches might be nice to imagine, and I’d be lying if I claimed to not want any of those things. Few of us write fiction because we expect to get rich. We don’t write because of lack of ability to do something else. We write because we want to—and that doesn’t demean it to the limit of a hobby. Not that there’s anything wrong with hobbies. But a hobby is something we do primarily for entertainment; a diversion from the trials and cares of every day life. Anyone who tries it will soon learn writing fiction is not always entertaining. It’s hard work and anything but a diversion.
My hope is to continue writing stories someone will want to read.
A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in central Pennsylvania. Since retirement, he has served as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with research and genealogy. He has published nine novels, including four in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series. Three other mysteries are under contract for 2012. His articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines, both print and on line. He is the father of two children and has four grandsons.
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLJIQ8
Blurb for The Limping Dog, a mystery coming from Whiskey Creek Press in March 2012
Gavin Cutter, an artist living in an isolated village on the New England coast, witnesses the crash of a sailing ship onto a reef. The first aboard the wreck, Cutter rescues a dog, the only living creature on the vessel. Ron Myers, wealthy owner of a growing computer firm, and the ship’s crew have disappeared without a trace.
Myers is alleged to have developed a radical new microprocessor system. Some assert the system was lost with its creator. Others believe it exists and have devious plans to profit from the invention.
When TJ Flood, an insurance investigator, questions Cutter and others, he learns a sheriff’s deputy has concealed knowledge of a woman who also witnessed the wreck. Flood is attracted to Dee, Cutter’s daughter, a newspaper reporter. They join forces in investigating the ship incident and strange coincidences surrounding it, including a break-in at Cutter’s house and mysterious concerns about the dog. The result is threats, danger and, ultimately, several murders before the case is resolved.
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Thank you John!