Author Charles Fergus has written 19 books, including many about nature and wildlife. “A Stranger Here Below” is the first in his new Gideon Stoltz mystery series. A native of Pennsylvania, Fergus now lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Charles Fergus and Naskur — Photo by Elise Skalwold
I grew up in central Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State University with a writing degree. I have worked as a writer and editor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Penn State, and the Wildlife Management Institute. My articles and essays have appeared in publications as various as Audubon, New York Times, Country Journal, Highlights for Children, Iceland Review, Shooting Sportsman, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and Pennsylvania Game News. A Stranger Here Below is my nineteenth book. Most of my other books are about nature and wildlife. (Learn more about my books HERE.)
I like to read mysteries with compelling plots and believable characters. But in my experience, few mystery writers convey the real truth of murder.
Years ago my mother was stabbed to death by a burglar in her home. I found her body. (You can read more about this event and how it affected me in a piece I wrote for Yale Review, accessibleHERE.)
When I decided to write a novel that included murder, I wanted to depict, as honestly as I could, the reality of what can happen when a human being takes another person’s life. I drew on my own experience in creating the hero of A Stranger Here Below, the young Pennsylvania Dutch sheriff Gideon Stoltz, who, as a child, lost his own mother to a murder.
Today I live in a part of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom. My wife, the writer Nancy Marie Brown, and I live on an old farm. We ride our Icelandic horses on dirt roads and trails. A member of a hospice chorus, I sing in small groups bringing a cappella music to people in their last days and final hours. (I do this in memory of my mom.) I am also one third of an American roots trio called Yestermorn; we sing Appalachian, folk, and shape-note songs, including many from the early 1800s – the kind of powerful, spiritual music that would have set Sheriff Gideon Stoltz’s wounded soul soaring again.