Author’s Bio: A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 15 novels, including seven in his Sticks Hetrick crime series, and a non-fiction regional history. Since retirement, he has been librarian of his county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
What inspired you to write your book?
JRL: Shares is the seventh book in the Sticks Hetrick crime series. Each has been inspired by a particular type of crime and is set in a small fictional town near Harrisburg, PA. The crimes are solved by Sticks, former police chief and now a county detective, and his proteges. Officer Flora Vastine is the primary in this one. The actual inspiration for Shares was a documentary on bird-watching. Though a series, the books are structured so they can be read as stand-alones.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
JRL: I've been a reader since a very early age and I'm sure I've been influenced to a degree by a number of writers. But I wouldn't want to blame them for any good or bad habits that have rubbed off on me over the years.
Some of my favorite "classic" writers would include Alexander Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Bronte and Edgar Allan Poe. Some favorite contemporary mystery writers would include James Lee Burke, Ruth Rendell, Harlan Coben, Charles Willeford and Georges Simenon.
Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
JRL: Shares is my 15th published novel. I've also published a non-fiction regional history. As to time, that depends on the book. Some germinate in the mind for years, other come quickly. I try to write every day, but don't set a word count target. I prefer to progress steadily without setting particular demands. I find the work goes easier that way.
Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
JRL: I'm a pantser. Usually I know where I'm headed, but welcome some surprises along the way. Knowing too much in advance would bore me. I do jot some notes to keep me on track; nothing you could really call an outline.
Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
JRL: There's always music playing in the background as I work; usually Symphony Hall on Sirius Radio and the classics; sometimes folk music or the Blues. Depends on my mood. No theme song for Shares The Darkness.
What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
JRL: It's important these days you utilize all possible means of getting your name recognized. Book stores are scarce on the homefront, so I seek library and other outlets for signings and similar events and write a weekly newspaper column. I also maintain a heavy footprint online. The best road to success remains word of mouth, but people must know about you to pass the word.
What advice would you give to new authors?
JRL: As Stephen King and others have advised, read a lot and write a lot.
How about sharing an excerpt from Shares The Darkness?
JRL: Here you are:
“She didn’t come home last night.”
Flora Vastine hesitated. She knew Mrs. Kepler as the type of overly protective mother who wouldn’t take kindly to a suggestion her daughter might be sleeping around. “Maybe she stayed with a friend,” Flora said without specifying gender.
Mrs. Kepler shook her head. “She didn’t have an overnight bag or even a toothbrush. Besides, I’m sure Jan would have told me if she was going to do that.”
The woman had shown up just as Flora was preparing to leave for her shift. Mrs. Kepler had come down the street in her nightgown and robe, fuzzy slippers on her feet, sans makeup and without even having run a brush through her sleep-knotted gray hair. Obviously she was distraught and Flora had no choice but to invite her in. Besides, as a police officer she had a responsibility to those who sought her assistance--no matter how tenuous the situation might seem.
Flora’s father was still at the table, having a second cup of coffee. He looked up in surprise as the two women entered the kitchen. “Jan didn’t come home last night. Mrs. Kepler is worried,” Flora quickly explained.
“Oh,” her father said. “Of course you’re worried. What can we do to help? Have a seat. Would you like some coffee, Sylvia?”
“No. Thank you, but no,” Mrs. Kepler said, sliding onto a chair next to him. “My stomach is acidic enough. Coffee would definitely not help.”
Sneaking a quick glance at the clock, Flora saw she was going to be late. “Sorry,” she said, drawing out her mobile, “I’ve got to call in.”
“Oh, I don’t want you to be late.”
“It’s okay. I just have to let them know.” She made her call, told dispatch she was delayed and would explain on arrival.
Mrs. Kepler drew a hand across her face. “I hope I’m not getting you in trouble, Flora.”
Flora leaned on a chair on the opposite side of the table. “Not a problem. Do you know where Jan was going when she left the house yesterday?” Jan Kepler was a high school biology teacher who still lived with her widowed mother. When not working, she helped her friend Peg Peabody conduct birding tours spring and fall. As far as Flora knew, neither woman had a boyfriend.
“She had her binoculars and her bag. She didn’t say, but it was obvious she was going birding.”
“With Miss Peabody?”
“No. I called Peg last night. She said she hadn’t seen Jan since Tuesday.”
“Does she often go by herself?” Bill Vastine asked.
“Oh, yes. When she isn’t helping Peg she loves to go out alone. She says it’s better that way. No crowds of people making noise and scaring off the birds before you can find them.”
“Dangerous, isn’t it? What if she fell or something?”
“I’ve said the same thing myself. That’s why I got so worried when she didn’t come home.”
Some other dangers came to mind for Flora, but she didn’t mention them. The woman was agitated enough. “Did she have her phone?”
“Yes. At least I didn’t see it at the house.”
“Did she give any idea where she was going?”
“No. But probably out to the Preserve. That’s one of her favorite places.”
“Did you say anything to Fred?” Officer Fred Drumheiser was Mrs. Kepler’s next door neighbor and also her brother. While Flora had been a police officer for several years now and proven herself on numerous occasions some members of the Swatara Creek squad—most notably Fred Drumheiser—still considered her a rookie.
“No. I thought of you first, dear, since you and Jan have always been friends.”
Though they’d lived on the same street all their lives and gone through school together, Flora had never considered Jan Kepler and herself as friends. Acquaintances. But never friends.
What’s next for you?
JRL: I'm finishing up the next in the Hetrick series and also working on another non-fiction book about my railroading ancestors.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
- Website: http://www.jrlindermuth.net
- Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jrlindermuth
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.lindermuth
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrlindermuth
- Blog: http://jrlindermuth.blogspot.com/\
- Book buy Links:
- In addition to Amazon and the publisher, Torrid/division of Whiskey Creek Press/Start Publishing, http://torridbooks.com/, my books are also available from: http://www.simonandschuster.com/search/books/_/N-/Ntt-lindermuth
- Barnes & Noble and from other fine bookstores.