When did you start writing creatively? Do you know why?
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
And another ten years went by and you finally finished novel number two...
Well, not exactly. I started writing The Red Madonna before I finished
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.
Tell us a little about The Red Madonna, where did the idea originate
for that book?
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.
OK, tell us a little about the plot of The Red Madonna Ė but no
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.
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.
And the next book?
I started that in 2004.
So will it be coming out soon?
Maybe, if I have time to write.
Itís a sequel?
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
Is that how your writing works? Donít you know where this is all going?
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.
So how about a few teasers for book two? Do you have a working title?
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.
And the plot?
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!
One last question: Why do you write novels?
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:
> To order a paperback
The Archangel of Westminster:http://amzn.to/1bDcOil
(You may need to download
Amazonís free e-reader application)
The Red Madonna:
The Archangel of Westminster:http://bit.ly/1bpxBeI
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.