West Milford author pens historical novel, 'Synod'

Tale set in 19th-century New Jersey follows village's role in Underground Railroad

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  • Photo provided West Milford author Dan C. Gunderman debuted his historical novel, "Synod," this week.

  • "Synod," set in 19th-century New Jersey, follows a war veteran thrust into a leadership role in a remote religious community.

Author Dan C. Gunderman has released his debut historical novel, the West Milford resident announced this week.

"Synod," tells the story of Goldfinch, a disaffected war veteran who is thrust into a leadership role in a remote religious village in New Jersey's Ramapough Mountains.

Gunderman, a graduate of West Milford High School, is a former staff writer and film/TV critic for the New York Daily News.

Gunderman was also an editorial assistant for a former weekly publication, AIM Newspapers. He's now the associate editor of a media site covering cyber security and is a contributing film critic with different outlets.

He holds a MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University and a BA in Journalism from Monmouth University.

He lives in the Passiac County township with his three dogs.

"Synod" was released on Tuesday, Jan. 9, by Zimbell House Publishing.

According to the author it "is both an endeavor in world-rebuilding and a fast-paced examination of the law and, perhaps, complacency of the era."

It takes readers back to 1829, where the protagonist, a veteran of the War of 1812, has become the anointed leader of a religious community named Synod, nestled in the mountains of northern New Jersey. The community becomes a stop on what would soon be called the Underground Railroad. Goldfinch oversees this transition, protecting a runaway family pursued by bounty hunters.

Goldfinch meets a shadowy abolitionist with close ties to the federal government who draws him into a wider crusade against slavery.

Goldfinch battles recurring visions ‑‑ "both fiery and prescient" ‑‑ and is also pitted against a corrupt politician "whose lone pursuit is to eliminate runaway slave dens," the author said.

Gunderman is working on two biographies for an educational publisher that are due out this spring. He is also writing a six-part Youth Adult fiction series.

His specialty is writing 19th-century historical fiction and screenplays. And his particular area of interests include Tudor and Victorian England, as well as U.S. politics during the Golden Age.

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