Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with Michael Dearmin

Michael Dearmin’s Western novel, A Time Has Not Yet Come, will be published in December, 2011.

Question: What makes Western heroes larger than life? One of the reasons that I chose to work in the western genre is the field’s absolute moral values. It’s not so much that the characters are larger than life, but rather that they generally represent a clear distinction between right and wrong. My efforts, on the other hand, are character driven more than plot driven. I spent a lot of time trying to make my characters as human—flaws and all—as approachable as possible. In The Time Has Not Yet Come, the main character, Matthew Stoker, is a Harvard graduate who returned from the war to find his father dead, his mother living with his sister, and the family plantation in the hands of a new owner. He gave his mother his mustering-out pay, headed west, and became a hired gun. Along the way, he found a stray puppy that he named Cinderella. He and “Drella” were heading for Colorado hoping to start a new life. However, Matt discovers that Maria Johnson’s father has been murdered and she is being harassed. Matt is a good man, but when necessary, he will kill people who are a threat to those who need his help. Another character is a Comanche who is a U.S. Marshal. Jacob Bearson is an upstanding man, but he is also capable of taking the law into his own hands—as circumstances demand. The third major character is Clay Harper, a former slave who has not truly received the benefits of his freedom. As a boy, he was educated at his mother’s knee by the good graces of the plantation owner. When he later found the Confederate soldier that had killed his mother, Clay killed him with his bare hands.

Question: What would you like readers to know about you? A major factor in my writing is that animals are an integral part of the story. Drella is Matthew’s best friend and constant companion. And she is another significant character in the novel. Her love and appreciation for Matthew are almost as great as his for her. Aphrodite, Matthew’s Appaloosa, is a young filly with whom Matthew discusses his plans, which also allows me to make necessary transitions in the work.

Question: How did you pick your setting? The setting for this book is western Nebraska, in a town I call Twin Forks. While the town is fictional, I recently discovered that there is a veterinary clinic in Nebraska that goes by that name, as well as one in Colorado—rather coincidental, given the large role that animals play in my stories. In this book, Matt is heading for a town in Colorado named Ovid near the Nebraska–Colorado border. Known for its association with the Pony Express, the town still exists today.

Question: I love the title. Where did it come from? Despite the similarity in the phrase, the title is not associated with the biblical line from the book of John. It comes from a line toward the end of my book. It’s also one of the main themes of the work—that the time has not yet come for men who defend others to turn away from their abilities to do so. In many ways, the same can be said for our world today, albeit, one would hope, without the use of guns.

Question: What are you working on? I have just finished the first draft of a second book with the same main characters. It has no title yet, but I can tell you that in that work, Matt meets a woman. Also, Drella’s role is increased substantially, and the scene is shifted to Colorado. One of the things that most people have commented on is that The Time Has Not Yet Come is quite visual. That’s a reflection of my tendency to show, not tell—something I always emphasize with my writing students as the way to make anything they write more vibrant and accessible to the reader.

Thanks, Michael.

Michael Dearmin is a former
university professor with a PhD in English and a background in theater. He grew
up on a small ranch in southern California
where he learned the art of breaking horses from his father. His deep-seated
love and respect for animals is reflected in his work.
The Time Has Not Yet Come
is Michael’s first book for AVALON.

Submitted by Sarah Richmond, author of Dulcie Crowder Gets Her Man.


Sandy Cody said...

It sounds like a great book, Michael. I love the "clear distinction between right and wrong" and the inclusion of animals. I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head as to why Westerns have such universal appeal.

Kudos to you too, Sarah, for asking the right questions.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

I am an avid fan of westerns and I've put Michael's on my TBR list. Michael, I like that you've flawed your characters because it leaves room for growth. Enjoyed the post very much.

Sheila Claydon said...

I like the fact that you have such a diverse set of characters and yet they all have the same philosophy, the same moral values. Somehow that makes the 'right from wrong' decisions all the more believable.

I haven't read a Western novel since devouring a lot of Zane Grey when I was young but I'll be reading this one.

johanna said...

I can't wait to get my copy! The dog and the horse sound like fitting companions to this lone man.
I am also very interested in reading your reflection on the “show, not tell”.

johanna said...

I can't wait to get my copy! The dog and the horse sound like fitting companions to this lone man.
I am also very interested in reading your reflection on the “show, not tell”.

Sarah Richmond said...

I was reading in the LA Times that there are a number of Westerns in production for the fall on television. I'm a big 'Justified' fan so that's good news to me.
Thanks for the comments.

Sarah Richmond