Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paul Gaus

Paul Gaus, a retired chemistry professor, has been writing Amish murder mysteries since 1997, set in the Amish country of Holmes County, Ohio, where he lives. Originally published by Ohio University Press, Gaus's books are now being republished by Penguin as “The Amish Mystery Series.” The first title in the series, Blood of the Prodigal, which addresses shunning – the Amish practice of exiling disobedient church members into the mainstream society – was released last month.

From his Q & A with the Christian Science Monitor:

How did you start writing Amish mystery novels?

I have lived in Wooster, Ohio, for over 33 years. Just south of us, in Holmes County, we have the largest Amish settlement of any location in the world. While I was teaching chemistry, I took an interest in writing about Amish society. And I always enjoyed mystery novels. So I took a trip out to New Mexico to meet with Tony Hillerman, who wrote many novels about Navajo culture. And I thought that I would write mystery novels like Tony Hillerman does, but I would set them among the Amish of Holmes county.

How do you go about choosing your stories?

"Blood of the Prodigal," like all of my stories, it is written to illuminate Scripture. In particular, its written to illuminate one of the Biblical Scriptures on which Amish people base their lifestyle. A key Scripture for "Blood of the Prodigal" is the 139th Psalm. Many of the interactions in "Blood of the Prodigal" are based on transactions of repentance and forgiveness. There’s comfort in the 139th Psalm for people who face repentance. That’s what an [Amish] bishop tries to do with shunning – restore a person to a community of faith.

So is there a spiritual component for you in writing these books?

There is. I...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue