I can’t read Cold Quiet Country without feeling every word.
When writing Cold Quiet Country I tried to push myself to the very limit of integrity. Truth has the potential to be uncomfortable, and works of fiction have a built-in escape hatch–dishonesty. In Cold Quiet Country, my goal was to create an absolutely evil character, and a good one, and let them go at it.
Creating a truly evil character means showing acts of evil, and there’s a fine line between being gratuitous and being honest. It was imperative for story purposes to create an evil character that readers would understand and loathe to their marrow. Part of this stems from the fact that in the real world, evil people exist. I knew someone as evil Sheriff Bittersmith, but I’ve never known anyone as good as Gale G’Wain. I had to write him.
In a sense, the author must be more dangerous than the villain–or else the villain won’t be real, nor will the hero who clashes with him. Readers want to have white knuckles, and they need to know the author has the grit to destroy the characters he loves.
When writing Cold Quiet Country, I had the sense that I was speaking to two people. I don’t know who they are. One is a young girl. One is a man.
They should each find a distinct message.
I hope you find meaning in Cold Quiet Country.
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Every state's got a gang of men with guns and tattered U.S. Constitutions stowed next to their dog-eared John Birch pamphlets. Bitching about government makes men happy, and in recent times, country folk have been fucking euphoric. Rumor was the boys in my neck of the woods were getting rowdy and ready to switch gears from talking to walking. I don't mind ten men at a hunting camp chucking bottles and blasting away. Any fella dumb enough to get drunk around a crew with guns half deserves a bullet. But I got a tip. One of the wives overheard talk of linking the local group with some radical faction out of Denver and marching with guns to Washington to take the country back from the jigs and the Jews. A sheriff can't truck with that, but in a county of twenty thousand, everybody knows everybody, almost. At least the men who would be of age and frame of mind to join such a group knew everyone else who might be. I didn't have anyone to put inside.
From the back cover…
Set in small town Wyoming in the 70s and unfolding in a single day, Clayton Lindemuth's debut novel,Cold Quiet Country, explores small-town corruption and the lengths some people will go to exact revenge.
With a deft hand and sinister eye, Clayton Lindemuth reminds us that the green, idyllic landscape of Middle America can suddenly become an ominous backdrop for violence and treachery.
Suspenseful, intelligent, and bold, COLD QUIET COUNTRY brings a new edge to the world of modern noir and readers will no longer be able to look upon rolling hills, pastoral fields, and picturesque barns without a sense of foreboding.
Copyright © 2013
I look at Liz. At some point she's going to decide what she wants to do. She's in the house where it all happened, the refuge that was the site of her terror, at the hands of the man whose politics maybe included her in the town's ostracism. She's a cagey creature, this girl who doesn't know how to be a girl. She glances at me and suddenly I'm in Burt Haudesert's kitchen, at the table. Jordan's at my elbow and Gwen is opposite, and she's got that same stare as Liz does now. She's looking straight at the center of the table. Her jaw is set but her brow is soft. There's concentration in her eyes, but no anger or consternation. Her heart's probably beating like a rabbit flushed from the briar, but outward she's spaced out and for the life of me I'll never understand how a man can do that to a girl.
And there's Sunday. Speak of the Devil. The man at the head of the family, defending it.
He's three steps away but ten times stronger and faster than me. But there are more guns on my side of the battlefront. And frankly I don't give a shit.
"Liz, are you going to kill him, or what?"