Engineer's family research results in first novel

October 16, 2004|by RICHARD RUSSELL/Wheelbase Communications

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - They say most of us have a book inside trying to get out.

Gerry Lute pushes that saying hard. He went from mechanical engineering to romantic mystery writing.

Lute's firsts novel, published under his pen name, Gerry Edwards, came out in August. Titled "Four Roses for Sarah," it is based loosely on incidents in the life of Sarah Kreps, the grandmother of Lute's wife, Pam.

Bill is the main character of this modern-day love story. The plot opens in Pennsylvania in 1978 as Bill's two aunts survive an auto accident, according to a synopsis on the back cover.

But the real mystery involves four roses that appear every year on Grandma Sarah's grave. Bill enlists the help of Gail, a local newspaper reporter, to help him to solve the mystery. The search for the truth takes Bill and Gail back in time.


Lute said the couple's research into Pam's family genealogy sparked his interest in writing about Sarah. Her family history in the area dates to the late 18th century. Her great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather were prominent men of their times and were written about extensively over the years in local newspapers, Lute said.

"It was easy to dig out," he said.

The research about Sarah's life and the fact that she had been married before she married Pam's grandfather peaked Lute's desire to write about it and couple it with his interest in local history.

He had tried before to write historic novels, but could never develop plots.

"They never flowed," he said.

Lute searched the Internet for major publishers and learned that they had little interest in new authors. He tried smaller publishing houses and found PublishAmerica in Baltimore. He sent in his manuscript and expected a rejection.

"Imagine my surprise when I received a note from them saying they wanted to publish my book," he said.

Lute said he doesn't know how many copies of "Sarah" have been printed. He has bought 400 and sold about 300 so far, he said.

He has five book-signing dates scheduled in the area between Oct. 30 and Dec. 18. Five Tri-State area stores carry his books, he said.

PublishAmerica sells books on all major book Web sites, he said. He won't know how those sales do until the spring, he said.

It took about five months to write the book, he said. At the time, he was between jobs and had time.

"I wrote about four hours a day," he said.

"A Stone Unturned," an adventure story laced with intrigue, is his latest work in progress. It is based on a trip to the English canals that he took some years ago with four high school buddies.

"The plot unfolds on the canal trips," he said.

Born in Frackville, Pa., Lute earned his degree at Penn State University. He has worked for Grove Worldwide and JLG Industries. He now works for the D.L. Martin Co. in Mercersburg.

Engineering and writing are related because both require creativity, Lute said.

"In order to develop a product, you constantly have to be putting things together in your mind," he said. "It's only a short step to use that creative energy in writing."

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