Friday, November 8, 2013

PUYB Virtual Book Club Q&A + Book Giveaway with #Amish Fiction 'The Wanderers' Paul Stutzman



We welcome Paul Stutzman to PUYB Virtual Book Club!  Paul is here today to talk about his Amish upbringing and his brand new Amish fiction, The Wanderers.  Ask him a question in the comment section and we will pick one of you to win a copy of his book!  The contest to win a free copy of his book, The Wanderers, will begin today and end on Monday, November 11.  Please leave your email address with your answer so we know how to get in touch with you.  Only those leaving email addresses will be eligible to win. 

More about Paul Stutzman:

Paul Stutzman was born in Holmes County, Ohio in an Amish family. His family left the Amish lifestyle soon after Paul was born. They joined a strict Conservative Mennonite Church where Paul was raised to fear God and obey all the rules the church demanded. Paul continued to live among and mingle with his Amish friends and relatives his entire life. Paul married a Mennonite girl and remained in the Amish community working and raising a family. After Paul lost his wife to cancer, he sensed a tug on his heart- the call to a challenge, the call to pursue a dream. With a mixture of dread and determination, Paul left his job, traveled to Georgia, and took his first steps on the 2,176 mile Appalachian Trail. What he learned during the next four and a half months changed his life-and can change yours too. After completing his trek Stutzman wrote Hiking Through—a book about this life changing journey.

In the summer of 2010 Stutzman again heeded the call for adventure and pedaled his bicycle 5,000 miles across America. He began his ride at the Northwest corner of Washington State and pedaled to Key West, Florida.  On his journey across America he encounters people in all circumstances, from homelessness to rich abundance. The people he meets touch his life profoundly. Stutzman writes about these encounters in his book Biking Across America.

Recently Stutzman released his first novel entitled The Wanderers. The Wanderers is a story about Johnny, a young Amish boy growing up in a culture he is not sure he wants to embrace. A young Amish girl named Annie wins his heart and life is great for a time. Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.

In addition to writing, he speaks to groups about his hiking and biking experiences and the lessons learned during these adventures. Stutzman resides in Berlin, Ohio and can be contacted through his website at www.hikingthrough.com or www.paulstutzman.com.

Stutzman resides in Berlin, Ohio and can be contacted through his website at www.hikingthrough.com or www.paulstutzman.com

About The Wanderers:

Everything in God’s nature, Johnny observed, did what it was created to do. Everything, that is, except the human race. Johnny was born into an Amish family, into a long line of farmers and good businessmen. He is expected to follow the traditions of family and church as he grows to adulthood. But even as a boy, he questions whether he can be satisfied with this lifestyle. He wants “more” — more education, more travel, more opportunity.

His restlessness leads him down a dangerous road where too much partying and drinking result in heartbreaking consequences. He’s adrift, and no one seems to be able to help him find his direction.
Then he meets spunky Annie, who seems pure and lovely and devoted to her God. Her past, though, holds sin and heartbreak. She was a worm, she explains, but God has transformed her into a butterfly. Johnny falls hopelessly in love; and eventually he, too, finds the power of God to transform lives.
Settling down on the family farm, he forgets about the questions and the restlessness, thinking that he is happy and at home, at last.

But in a few short hours, tragedy changes his life forever, and he is again wondering… and wandering on a very long journey.

Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.


Thanks for being our first guest in our brand new book club, Paul!  Get comfy, grab yourself a cup of coffee and let’s get started.  First of all, I love love love Amish fiction.  What’s neat about this book (I have it and am loving it!) is that it’s written by an ex-Amish author.  A lot of authors write Amish but aren’t Amish themselves and I believe that makes you more genuine.  Before we get to your book, I have a million questions about you and your Amish background but I’ll try to keep it short.  First, I think others don’t realize that you used to be Amish.  Do you still consider the Amish way of life is in your soul?

Paul:  I have many Amish friends and relatives. I can easily move from the Amish world to the English world. Their are distinct advantages to both lifestyles.

What did your family do for a living?

Paul:  After leaving the Amish we moved to a 3 acre property where all 5 of us children helped mom with her large garden. Dad worked in a feed mill where they ground up grain to feed farm animals.

When did you decide to leave and why?

Paul:  I was quite young when my parents made the decision to leave the Amish Church. My parents left for spiritual reasons. There were areas of Amish teachings that left them wanting.

What was it like in the outside world at first?  Where did you end up living?

Paul:  We lived near a small town in Amish country named Benton. Our area now attracts over three million tourist a year.

What did your family have to say about that?  Did they disown you?

Paul:  My grandparents were not pleased when my parents left the Amish but they were never shunned. While some folks leave the Amish life to enjoy more freedoms such as cars, phones, and electricity my parents left for more spiritual reasons. My parents joined a strict Conservative Mennonite community that wasn't far removed from the Amish lifestyle. When I was old enough to make my own choices I went one step farther and joined a more liberal Mennonite church. I currently attend a Mennonite church in my area.

Back to your book, The Wanderers, Johnnie is the leading character.  Can you tell us all about him?

Paul: Johnny is a composition of about 4 Amish youths I was raised around. He is fun loving yet very serious about life. He questions the Amish way of life and wonders what he is missing by not having the freedoms his English friends have.

He meets up with Annie.  Was this a soul mate connection?

Paul:  In Johnny's case he believed it was. Annie came along at a difficult stage in his life and he credited her with saving him from many bad choices. He had also been begging God for answers and knew Anne was an answer to his prayer. It also led him to question God when the accident happened.

Do the Amish believe in soul mates?

Paul:  The Amish believe that anything that happens is the will of God. I have never heard an Amish person describe their relationship as soul mates but since their marriage is for life it actually may be true.

Every book of fiction has a pivotal point for the reader that they can’t forget.  What do you think is one of the pivotal points in your book?

Paul: When Johnny meets the school teacher Annie his life makes a dramitic turn.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell your readers?

Paul: I have woven a Monarch butterfly migration story in with the wanderings of the main character. I will leave it up to the reader to decide if it works.



Leave a question or a comment for Paul below to win a free autographed copy of his book, The Wanderers!
 

22 comments:

  1. Thank you for being here, Paul! I have a question to start us off. Did you leave any Amish friends behind when your family left and do you still have contact with them?

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    1. Our family left the Amish faith on good terms. We maintained contact with all our friends and family.

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  2. Someone asked me this question. I'd like your answer. If an Amish person's clock stops (battery dies or they forget to wind it) how do they know what time to set it for? I have and read your book, so don't need to be entered.

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    1. I have not worn a watch for over 40 years and can tell the time of day within 5 minutes anytime. There are so many places to see the time that it would not be a problem.

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    2. How interesting, Paul. I almost can do that myself. If I have to wake up at a certain time, my inner clock does it for me!

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  3. Hi Paul, Thanks for sharing your story. It seems very interesting from what I can read so far.

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    1. Thanks for your interest. I believe you will enjoy the book.

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  4. Hi Paul, very interesting interview and the timing for me to have read this is really interesting since my mom and I were just talking about the Amish and the Mennonites and their differences. I guess my question would be about how your parents now feel about your more "outside" lifestyle and about your writing? Do you know if any of your Amish family members have read your book or how it's been received in the Amish community?

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    1. My parents are very accepting of my more liberal lifestyle. Many of my Amish friends have read and enjoyed my books.

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  5. Paul, you've had some amazing adventures that you've written about. What made you decide to try your hand at writing a novel?

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    1. When my wife passes away I retired from my job and hiked the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail in search of peace and healing. The hike through all 14 states was so healing I wanted to write a book to encourage other folks going through difficult times. After the hike I rode my bicycle 5,000 miles across America. The novel came about because of the love of Monarch butterflies my wife had. I included a story in my novel about two butterflies migrating to Mexico told from the butterflies perspective.

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  6. Hi Paul,
    Do you ever watch the shows with the Amish youth, such as 'Breaking Amish'? Do you think if your parents would have stayed Amish you would have been tempted to leave?

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    1. One reason I chose to write an Amish novel was due to the inaccurate portrayal of Amish folks. Shows such as Amish Mafia are 95% bogus and the remaining 5% is questionable.

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  7. The book sounds facinating because all cultures struggle with the same thinfa. Cant wait to read it.

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  8. Can you elbaborate on what the spiritual reasons were for leaving the Amish church? I have read some things concerning spiritual reasons people leave, and there have been times I have thought how wonderful it would be to be a part of the Amish community. But I feel they are too legalistic for my tastes.

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  9. You are correct. The Amish believe you live the best life you can and hope it's good enough to get to heaven. Many believe that by abiding by the strict rules set down by the church it increases their chances. Of course many Amish prefer to lead lives where the rules are so clearly defined.

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  10. Yes there is a lot of legalism in the Amish culture. Some folks leave because they become more spiritually aware. Many chose to remain and thrive in the strict parameters set by church leaders. Tradition is also valued in the Amish culture.

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  11. I have read several Amish books and the recurring theme in some of them has been war. Some have gone but then are banished from the community. Is that true or just put in the books for selling points?

    I understand about religion and war to an extent but like 9/11 where there are terrorists involved, would they still not take up arms to stop a terrorist from entering their community and killing them?

    Mary
    bearcup58@yahoo.com

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  12. I'm curious about the "governing bodies" of the Amish and Mennonite Faiths. We are LDS and "The Church is The Church", meaning that we don't have more or less liberal congregations. We all follow the same dictates.

    How do this work with the different communities?

    libneas{at}aol{dot}com

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  13. My husband and I are going to be traveling to Ohio in a few weeks. We're LDS, so will be visiting the Kirtland area, which is important to our church's history. I've always found the Amish fascinating -- where are the best places in Ohio to visit and learn more about them?

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  14. Congratulations to Libby for winning a free copy of Paul's book!

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