Author Spotlight: P.L. Gaus

Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Judy Christie is Shannon! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (

This week is Paul Gaus is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Paul’s latest book, Harmless as Doves, leave a comment on this post!

Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I am married, with two grown daughters, Laura and Amy.  I live in Wooster, Ohio, with my wife Madonna.  For thirty-one years, I taught college chemistry, but now in retirement, I am a full-time writer.  My six Amish-Country Mysteries have now been republished in paperback editions by Plume, a division of Penguin Group USA.  The novels were first published by Ohio University Press, which will publish the seventh story in the series this summer as a new hardcover edition.

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

I write mystery novels about Amish and Mennonite people.  The stories are set in Holmes County, Ohio, where the largest Amish settlement in the world is located.  Each of my novels is an allegory for an important spiritual principal that guides Amish lifestyle and culture, and although they are murder mysteries, they are authentically Amish, with a recurring cast of English characters who work on solving the mysteries. 

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author? 

At the age of fifty, I found that I had things that I wanted to say about life, and I found that writing fiction was the ideal outlet for me.  I had published numerous articles in professional research journals, and I am the co-author of a best-selling textbook on inorganic chemistry.  But, it is fiction that proved most interesting to me, and I began to write mysteries about Amish society.  Now there are six Amish-Country Mysteries in print, and a seventh will be published this summer.

After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?

This took three years.  Once the series was established, I wrote at a pace of six books total in ten years.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?

I have usually thought about a new story, or a new chapter in a story, for several days (or even weeks) before I try to write it.  I find that it is not productive for me to try to write at the same time every day.  Instead, when I have thought about it long enough, I find that the writing happens very quickly.  Then of course, I revise constantly.  However, one of the things that I try to remind myself is that although I can never revise enough, I can revise too much.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?

My wife Madonna has been my greatest help.  She reads everything, and I trust her instincts about the stories.  Otherwise, family and friends are not particularly useful, because they always tell me that my writing is wonderful, very good, that sort of thing.  I have not joined any writing groups, because I have always enjoyed a very singular and personal understanding of what I am trying to write, and mostly I find that I am not particularly adept at critiqing the work of other writers. 

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? 

I had published enough as a chemist to know what the publishing world is like.  But now, as a full time author of fiction, I find the life to be wonderful.  It is the best of everything I dreamed it could be.

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?

Clearly the best event was when my stories were republished over the last six months by Plume, as trade paperbacks.  This has brought national attention to my work, and Madonna and I have traveled all over the country to promote the series for Plume. 

The worst moment was when I realized that the seventh story in the series would have to be entirely rewritten.  I had a good story, but I made a mistake in trying to write with a different style.  My editor convinced me to start again, and he was right.

Now Harmless as Doves is what it always should have been, and it will come out in a hardcover edition this summer.

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?

Mostly, I find that I don’t like waiting for the royalties.  Best of all is the satisfaction of seeing the first printings of a new story arrive in the mail.  A close second is seeing the books on the shelves of a fine bookstore.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Put your novel in a drawer, and write another one with the same theme or characters.  This is the most instructive thing a writer can do.  If you are paying attention when you do it, you’ll be vastly better at revising the first story.

Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.

If you would like to know and understand what it is like to live as an Amish person, then these books are for you.  If you also like a good mystery, then these books are especially for you.

What’s on the book horizon for you?

I will attend two conventions of mystery writers this year.  The first is Malice Domestic, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the second is Bouchercon in St. Louis.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

On my website (, I have listings and links to some of the better places to buy my books.  Barnes and Noble stores have been especially good at keeping my books in stock, but there are plenty of other places, too, for instance Poisoned Pen, in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)


About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. Tiggi47 says:

    This sounds like a book that would interest me.

  2. Shannon says:

    I love anything Amish, Being an Amish driver part-time and learning the culture is a blessing. I love being introduced to new Amish books, reading is my getaway from life..

  3. patedsch1 says:

    Would love to win Paul's new book hope my luck is with me!!

  4. Shaun says:

    Would love to win his book.

  5. Marianne says:

    i love reading about the Amish..thankyou for the interview and a chance to win P.L. Gaus' book. mitzi_wanham{at}yahoo{dot]com
    Marianne from Arizona

  6. Trindi Collins says:

    Am just beginning reading Amish books and can only tell you that they have helped me in my relationship to God and become so much closer to HIM!!

  7. Mike and Renee says:

    yay! I'm now aware of a new author that I hadn't discovered yet, thanks for this interview!

  8. The Texas Garretts says:

    Can't wait to find his books and get started on them!

  9. Kim F says:

    I don't usually read mysteries, but will have to try one of Paul's. How inspiring that at 50 you started another whole career

  10. Judy B says:

    Loved the interview! I haven't read any of your books yet but I do have a list of your books on my spreadsheet that I want to read.

  11. Sylvia says:

    That was a very interesting interview. I like mysteries. And I am begining to get a collection of Amish fiction.

  12. Lori James says:

    I would like to read this book and find a new author at the same time. I love reading about the Amish and their peaceful lifestyle. 🙂

  13. Kimber says:

    Love mysteries. WOuld love to receive your book. A chance to read a new author!!

  14. catnippin says:

    P.L. Gaus is an author I've recently discovered…I'd love to read his new book!

  15. Anonymous says:

    oo I love to read about the amish.. This would be an interesting perspective to read about.. Are these books sold where???

  16. Anonymous says:

    I would like to win this book.
    angela from ky.

  17. Patti says:

    Sounds like a very interesting book. Would love to win a copy.

  18. Kristie says:

    Well written mysteries, especially Amish mysteries are very hard to find. Mr. Gaus is the standard by which all others are judged. For me anyway. 🙂 kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

  19. RubyKat says:

    I have read all of P.L. Gaus' books. Love them all. Would love to win the newest one.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I would love to win and read this book!!!!

  21. Fabiano says:

    What a nice interview. I am familiar with P.L. Gaus and have read some of his books. I would love to win this book! Thank you for the opportunity to enter.

  22. Kathy says:

    What a nice interview. I love reading Amish books and I have read a couple books by P.L. Gaus. Thank you for the opportunity to enter.

  23. Nancy says:

    Thank you for introducing me to Mr. Gaus. My two favorite genres combined. Can it get any better? Yes, if I win this giveaway. ;p
    njones127 at tampabay dot rr dot com

  24. Anonymous says:

    I have read his books and would love to add this to my collection

  25. Susan A says:

    I enjoy reading Amish books; I would love to win a copy of Paul Gaus' book. Thanks for the great interview.

  26. Marie Anne says:

    Amish fiction lover here, but I never would have though murder mysteries would fit in. Would love to win Paul's book to see if it might win me over to that genre too!

  27. Carol says:

    My husband and I drive to Holmes Co. Ohio every summer to buy a year's worth of cheese from the Amish. Reading Gaus's books are like visiting again. I really enjoyed hearing more about him through your interview.

  28. Suzanna says:

    I have read 2 of Paul's books so far and thoroughly enjoyed them. I would love to win this installment!Thanks for the chance!
    Sue Laitinen

  29. Maureen says:

    I've read Paul's books and enjoy them…please include me!

  30. where’s my post? not writing the whole post out again lol you missed a typo mods