More about the book...
It’s the summer of 1898. The nation, just coming out of an economic slump, has been at war with Spain since April. And Sylvester Tilghman, sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, has a murder victim with too many enemies.
There’s Claude Kessler, who is found standing with a knife in his hand over the body of Willis Petry. There’s Rachel Webber, Petry’s surly teen-aged stepdaughter, who admits an act intended to cause him harm. Then there’s the band of gypsies who claim Petry is the goryo who stole one of their young women.
If this isn’t enough to complicate Tilghman’s life, add in threats to his job by McClean Ruppenthal, former town burgess; a run-in with a female horse thief; scary predictions by a gypsy fortuneteller, and the theft of Doc Mariner’s new motorcar.
There’s plenty of good eating, church-going and socializing along the way. And, before all is over, Sylvester solves the crime and even comes a little closer to his goal of finally marrying longtime girlfriend Lydia Longlow.
1. What was your inspiration for this book?
JRL: Sooner Than Gold is a sequel to Fallen From Grace. A number of readers expressed an interest in another book involving Sylvester and Lydia. As so often happens, the characters responded with an idea for a follow up.
Since I grew up in a town much like Arahpot I thought it might be fun to see if I could portray it and its inhabitants in an earlier time period in the first book. I’ve expanded on that in this second.
2. Would you classify your writing as plot driven or character driven?
JRL: I’m definitely on the side of character driven. You can’t have a plot without characters.
3. Can you tell us a little about your main character?
JRL: Sylvester Tilghman is the third of his family to serve as sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, a generally tranquil rural community. Syl is an intelligent, likeable fellow trying to do the best job he can—often against difficult odds. But he does get the job done. And he perseveres, despite setbacks, in his goal of convincing Lydia Longlow, a strong-willed young woman with her own agenda, to accept one of his many marriage proposals.
4. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.
JRL: Syl has a murder victim with too many enemies. The victim has a despicable reputation and suspects are falling over themselves for Syl’s attention. They include a man found standing over the body with a knife in his hand, the victim’s surly teenaged stepdaughter who admits wanting to cause him harm, and a band of gypsies who contend the dead man stole one of their young women.
First of all, I hope they’ll be entertained. I try to give a historically accurate portrait of a small town in that time period, including some information about prejudice (which never seems to go away) and rigid attitudes. Oh, and there’s also the fact even the worst of us can have some redeeming qualities.
6. What song best describes your writing style?
JRL: I’m not sure of a particular song, but for this series the music genre would have to be folk.
7. Night Owl or Early Bird?
JRL: During nearly 40 years in the newspaper business I was forced to be an Early Bird when my natural inclination was the opposite. I swore when I retired I would throw away the alarm clock. I did. Unfortunately, early rising is now so ingrained into my system, I no longer need the clock.
8. Skittle or M&Ms?
JRL: Definitely M&Ms.
9. Who are your favorite authors?
There isn’t enough space here to list them all. But some long time favorites would include Cervantes, Emily Bronte, John Steinbeck, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Fowles, Ruth Rendell, James Lee Burke. I’m constantly adding to the list, and not all of them are familiar names. There are some terrific new writers out there waiting to be discovered.
10. Can you tell us about any future projects?
Whiskey Creek Press will be publishing the sixth in my Sticks Hetrick mystery series, there’s a non-fiction book coming from Sunbury Press, and I’m currently working on the seventh Hetrick novel. Will there be another Tilghman book? I’ve been getting some vibes about a corpse missing from a funeral home in Arahpot.
Meet the Author
A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in central Pennsylvania where he currently serves as librarian of his county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. He is the author of 12 novels and his short stories and articles have been published in a variety of magazines. He is the father of two children and has four grandsons who do their best to keep him out of trouble. When not writing, he can usually be found with his nose in a book. He also enjoys drawing, walking and browsing at flea markets.