February/March 2014 - Vol. 72

An Interview with Author
Michael Shaughnessy

  Look inside > to read an excerpt 
  The Red Madonna
  published November 2013
  392 pages
  Available in Kindle ebook and paperback


LB: When did you start writing creatively? Do you know why?

Mike: I started in my mid-thirties. I didnít really like writing, I just had a good idea for a book one day Ė I should probably say an inspiration, because I think that was what it was. The idea came as a reflected on the line from the song: O Sacred Head Surrounded. The specific line was: "And angel hosts adored thee and trembled as they gazed." The first question was simply, why did they tremble. That led to the second, which was, how do emotions work for angels? And that resulted in the basic idea of the book: Doing an interview with Michael the Archangel. Over the next ten years I would get ideas for chapters and find myself writing bits and pieces here and there on a day off or during a vacation. Then when I heard the testimony of a young woman one day, I knew the rest of the story and voilà, ten years later I finished The Archangel of Westminster

LB: And another ten years went by and you finally finished novel number two...

Mike: Well, not exactly. I started writing The Red Madonna before I finished The Archangel of Westminster. I had another idea and just got stuck in it, but you are right. It took ten years to write it, after all, I do it in my spare time.

LB: Tell us a little about The Red Madonna, where did the idea originate for that book?

Mike: From Tom Clancy, sort of... He wrote a series of books about a character, Jack Ryan, who ends up being the President of the USA. So I thought it might be fun to have a character, Fr. Michael Reilly, who goes from being a parish priest to, well, I donít know how far up he goes, but in book two, letís just note that he is already in Rome.

LB: OK, tell us a little about the plot of The Red Madonna Ė but no spoilers, please! 

Mike: There are twelve primary characters in the book. The book introduces four of them in their own settings in the first four chapters. Gradually, their lives and the lives of the others get intertwined. Each of the characters is tested around his or her response to a sexual abuse case: the priest, the Archbishop, the lawyers on either side, the victim, the woman pushing him to act, her husband, the two detectives, the parents of the victim and one other person. Then the plot gets augmented through murder and sacrilege to a completely different level. I actually think the character studies are more fascinating than the plot.

LB: Why?

Mike: Because they are real people: afraid, confused, deceived, moral in their own way, funny, stubborn, kind, clever, manipulative, and their lives unfold as you read.

LB: And the next book?

Mike: I started that in 2004. 

LB: So will it be coming out soon?

Mike: Maybe, if I have time to write.

LB: Itís a sequel?

Mike: Yes, I thought it would just follow the main character of the first book, but last week at least four of the original characters butted their way into the second book! In addition, as I wrote I suddenly found that the last line of the first book had a whole different meaning. I expected it was just the end of the book. Suddenly it was shaping the whole plot of the second.

LB: Is that how your writing works? Donít you know where this is all going?

Mike: Not exactly. I was as just about surprised by how the first book ended as the readers are. I thought I had finished the book, then, as I was proof reading, one of the characters re-wrote his role right at the end. 

LB: So how about a few teasers for book two? Do you have a working title?

Mike: Yes, or maybe just a concept. A color will be in the title again. A hue of red? Maybe crimson or cardinal? But there is a very strong chess theme playing in the background as well. So maybe black or white. 

LB: And the plot?

Mike: An extraordinary set of miracles is intertwined with a conclave to elect a new pope that has somehow gone awry. Season that with a bit of Shakespeare, Faust, chess, and the Book of Revelation and we will see where it goes. I hope Fr. Michael Reilly knows, because I donít!

LB: One last question: Why do you write novels?

Mike: One answer would be that I enjoy the story as much as the readers do, I just happen to get it first. A more serious answer would be because I think the Lord is calling the Sword of the Spirit to be contributors to and shapers of a new culture. I think the Lord wants to use the next generation especially to write the songs, the comic books, the novels, the screenplays, and everything else that shapes a culture of life, truth, joy, hope and holiness. If we believe what we pray, ďthy kingdom come on earth...Ē then we should be involved in building that kingdom.

> To order an ebook
The Red Madonna: http://bit.ly/redmadonna
The Archangel of Westminster:http://amzn.to/1bDcOil 

(You may need to download Amazonís free e-reader application)

> To order a paperback
The Red Madonna: http://bit.ly/TheRedMadonna 
The Archangel of Westminster:http://bit.ly/1bpxBeI

About the author
I am originally from Minnesota and know how to dress in -40 degree temperatures. I have been doing Christian youth-work since I was 19 and was one of the first Catholics to work as Area Director for Young Life. I write a monthly newsletter on youth culture and am the International Director of Kairos, a Christian youth program serving those 13 to 30. 

I met Pope John Paul II in 1981 during a conference I organized for 60 leaders in the Charismatic renewal, five days before he was shot. I met Yasser Arafat, the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Patriarchs of Jerusalem and one of the Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem during the visit of John Paul II to Israel.

I lived for 15 years in Belfast N.Ireland and London, England, which was where I wrote The Archangel of Westminster. I began writing The Red Madonna in 1998 and had more or less finished it by 2002. I began the follow-up novel, currently titled, The Cardinal Conspiracy in 2003, and hope to finish it before the next conclave.

I am also the author of A Concise Catholic Catechism, a contributor to How to be Ecumenical Today, and the creator of iPray -- an aid to daily prayer.

I am an Elder (leader) of the Servants of the Word, an ecumenical brotherhood of men who live the vows of celibacy, simplicity and obedience. I have visited 26 countries and speak German fluently. I travel about 10 days of the month. My pillow lives in Lansing, Michigan.

My vices are golf, pistachios, chocolate and single malt scotch. Someday I will repent of them.

The Archangel of Westminster
by Michael Shaughnessy
Kindle ebook format

It was Holy Week, the week set apart by Christians to commemorate Jesus' passion, death and resurrection. It was the week Michael intended to visit London for his tour but little did he know, it was intended to be a time for an interview with the warrior who holds the highest rank among the army of heaven - St. Michael the Archangel. 

On that Holy Week, Kate decides to die. Michael witnessed the heavenly hosts engaged in an intense spiritual battle for her soul. Through that sobering event, Michael understood how the story of each person is connected to familiar stories he knew - the fall of Satan, Jesus being tempted by the devil, the deliverance of the demoniac, Jesus on the cross and Jesus out of the tomb. 

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