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Published on Sunday, May 31, 2015

An Interview with

J.R. Lindermuth


An interview with writer J.R. Lindermuth about his brand new Western novel, THE TITHING HERD.

The Western Online: Can you describe your story for our readers?

J.R. Lindermuth: Simply put—a guilt-ridden former lawman must choose between revenge and saving the woman he loves.

TWO: How is your story one that would interest the readers of The Western Online?

JRL: I believe readers, especially readers of Westerns, like to see good triumph over bad and they appreciate how circumstance can raise an ordinary man (or woman) to heroic stature. The classic Western is a continuation of the traditional morality play dating back to the knights of yore.

My story addresses this moral situation with the added ingredients of colorful characters, action, suspense, a bit of humor and a little romance.


TWO: What motivates the protagonist in your story? What is he trying to prove?

JRL: Luther "Lute" Donnelly is a good man whose desire for revenge has warped his moral perspective. Rescuing young Tom Baskin, a boy wrongly accused of rustling, brings him back to Serene, the woman he loves, and her Mormon community, putting him on the path to redemption.

TWO: How would you define the term "Western" and what does it mean to you?

JRL: I view "Western" as a situation rather than a particular time and place. Remember, our ancestors began "westering" on the Atlantic shore and didn't stop until they'd reached the Pacific. That provides a nice wide tableau for stories.

TWO: What draws you to writing Westerns?

JRL: The Western may be the only truly "American" contribution to literature. And it encompasses nearly every other genre—mystery, adventure, history, suspense, romance. They're all possible ingredients. Where else does a writer have the opportunity to adapt all these elements to one story?

TWO: What writers have influenced you the most?

JRL: I believe we're influenced for better or worse by everything we read. I admire qualities in many writers for different reasons. But I don't think I can point to one and say he or she influenced me the most. That said, I do realize now this particular story may have been unconsciously influenced by my admiration for the Western novels of Vardis Fisher. Though considered an apostate by some, Fisher's fiction and his life were strongly influenced by his Mormon heritage.

TWO: What is your favorite Western, either novel or movie? Why?

JRL: I'd be hard-pressed to boil it down to one or two books or films. I absorbed the classics and I'm constantly discovering new writers to admire. Films? Jeremiah Johnson (based on Fisher's Mountainman), Dances With Wolves, True Grit (both versions but for different reasons), The Searchers, Shane, The Wild Bunch, The Missing—again, so many more.

TWO: If you could go back in time and meet one famous person in the Old West, who would it be and why?

JRL: There are a lot of those characters you wouldn't want to encounter in real life. One I might like to spend some time with would be the mountain man James Ohio Pattie to see if he was really the liar some have made him out to be or the legend his exploits suggest.

TWO:What are you plans for the future? Are you working on a sequel?

JRL: I haven't given much thought to a sequel. But you never know. I do have a couple other plots simmering.

TWO:Is there anything else you'd like to add?

JRL: Just a word of appreciation for readers. Where would we be without them? Like many others, I'd probably keep on writing even if no one read my work. But there's no bigger thrill than having a stranger say "I enjoyed your story."


J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill. A retired newspaper editor, he is the author of 14 novels, including seven in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series, and a regional history. His stories and articles have appeared in a variety of magazines.


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