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Schlussel's Woman
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  A risk- taking society, unconstrained by fear of failure

Title: Schlussel’s Woman

Author: John Richard Lindermuth

Publisher: Authors Choice Press (October 2003)

Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN: 0595299296 (paperback)

      0595751652 (Hardcover)


Price - $14.95/$24.95


Rating: Highly Recommended


August 29, 2004


Considered the spawn of Satan, Captain Isaac Schlussel is a wealthy dominant dictator. Despised by most, if not all, within the village he himself created. So much, that during a meeting on the night of April 15, 1830 this ruthless man is shot.


Nancy Ann Cadwallader Schlussel, the captain’s young wife considers herself as much property, as the slaves that maintained the enormous estate.


Unafraid and with life hanging by a string, Schlussel contemplates his very existence and the man that had summoned the courage to fire the fatal blow, destroying his dreams, plans and future. Guilt ridden, Nancy keeps vigil by his bedside for two nights.


With a cast of shady, suspicious characters only one-question remains: Who fired the gun? And why?


With well-done research author John Richard Lindermuth has woven an exceptional tale, and it shows in his depictions of this time period. Schlussel’s Woman will not only give a glimpse into the “gold rush” days, entrepreneurial capitalism but also of the men who helped mold it. There are no illusions about the cynical and ruthless nature of this era. This is certainly one book you won’t want to miss!


   Reviewed by Betsie



An Interview with John Richard Lindermuth, author of “Schlussel’s Woman”




Betsie: To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?


John: “Schlussel’s Woman” is a historical suspense novel set early in the 19th century in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region and detailing the rise and fall of one of those ambitiously ruthless men who flocked to the region in pursuit of “black gold.”




Betsie: Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?


John: I grew up in the Pennsylvania coal region and have now gone full circle and returned there in retirement after a career as a newspaper writer/editor. Reading was early an important part of my life and, I believe, led me to writing.



Betsie: Who were your earliest influences and why?

John: My paternal grandfather was a story teller and, if genes have anything to do with it, launched me on the same path. My father had a good library when I was growing up and I indulged early on Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Conan Doyle and then on to Dumas, Stevenson, Poe, Irving, the Brontes, De Maupassant and on and on and on.


Betsie: What would a typical day be like for a writer?


John: When I was still a working newsman, I tried to get an hour or two of my own work every day. I continue to write most every day but dispute the common belief that there’s more time after you retire.




Betsie: How long have you been writing and in what capacities?


John: I remember writing some stories before high school but that’s where it really got started. The draft (Vietnam era) interrupted college but the Army sent me to a military version of J-school and I worked on a variety of Army papers ending as editor of a division newspaper in Korea. Paraphrasing Melville I might say the Army was my Harvard and Korea my Yale. After the Army, I worked first as a reporter on a small weekly, then on to several dailies covering every conceivable beat and editing slot (except sports) and finally to the small daily where I retired in 2000.



Betsie: Which is more difficult to write - Fiction or nonfiction and why?


John: Each has its challenge but I don’t necessarily find one more difficult than the other.




Betsie: Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?


John: Doesn’t everyone? Every rejection has the capacity to compel you in that direction. Either you persevere or you quit.




Betsie: What is the hardest part about being a writer?


John: Finding time and energy to deal with all the ideas that crop up. Every one knows it’s a lonely task but if we weren’t so compulsive about it we wouldn’t go on, would we.




Betsie: Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?


John: Other than writing, I draw and paint, enjoy the outdoors, walking, reading of course, and spending time with my four grandsons and other family.



Betsie: Articles and media alike make it sound as though the only way to rise to the top is to sacrifice. What do you find to be good sacrifices?


John: Having done it in the past and paid, I would not now sacrifice time and commitment to my loved ones. I willingly sacrifice much that is considered important to others such as material objects and trivial pursuits.




Betsie: What question do you get asked more than any other?


John: Where do you get your ideas? I think most writers hear that one a lot. Most of us don’t really know; but we’re glad, aren’t we?



Betsie: What’s the coolest thing a reader has said to you?


John: You surprised me. I didn’t think the story would end that way.



Betsie: What has been your feedback from readers? What do they say to you about their interpretations of your book?


John: Fortunately, mostly positive at this point. I must have learned a few things by trial and error. And, most readers seem to be getting the theme.




Betsie: Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?


John: Early on a friend accused me of being more of an observer than a participant. I’ve since learned to do both but I think I do see more in the actions of others and pick up on motivations.




Betsie: Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?


John: Some of my “classic” favorites continue to be Poe, the Brontes, Melville, Stevenson, Steinbeck, Katherine Ann Porter and numerous others. In the more modern era, I rank highly Nabokov, John Gardner, John Fowles, Peter Matthiessen, Jim Harrison, Evan Connell and John Irving. Lately I’ve enjoyed Edward P. Jones, Martin Clark and Sue Monk Kidd.



Betsie: If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?


John: Read everything you can until it starts to spill over. Imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery; it leads eventually to self-expression. And, don’t be afraid to experiment.




Betsie: What kind of movies do you enjoy?


John: Mystery/suspense, good Westerns, some comedies.




Betsie: What is your favorite city to visit, but one that you wouldn’t want to live in?


John: New York, of course. If you’re talking about one I would live in – Baltimore.



Betsie: What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?


John: I’m still waiting to hear it. Seriously, most of mine have been with rather nice people.




Betsie: What’s the best part of being a writer?


John: Never being bored. I can’t understand people who say they’re bored. There’s always a challenge, something new to learn.



Betsie: What's next?


John: I’ve completed another novel, “St. Hubert’s Stag,” which will be available soon. And working on another more contemporary mystery and just started research today on another historical work.




We hope you enjoyed learning of this intriguing author, I know we did! Betsie's Literary Place can't wait to see Mr. Lindermuth's next work, and we wish him much success with all future works!