Mission Statement 2019
For a number of years, I had what I thought was a splendid idea for a mystery novel, inspired in part by Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series, but set in a modern, American setting. But several things held me back, one being that I don’t consider myself a genre writer; and though I love mystery stories in general, I find myself generally unsatisfied by what’s currently available, and popular. And utterly mystified, by what sells…The other is that this would be an overwhelmingly male-dominated book, and the burden would be introducing really interesting women characters to counterbalance all that testosterone. But finally I took the plunge, and wrote Hard Cider Abbey, self-published it and I have to say, it’s done pretty well. This book, along with the novellas that followed, actually provide me with a little bit of steady income, and a growing readership.
However, my timing in bringing out this series has been spectacularly awful. The pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church was just beginning to re-emerge as I was starting the book, but I hoped—I prayed—it would all blow over soon. It has only gotten worse, and worsens still, as evidence continues to mount showing the issue is far vaster and deeper than we ordinary Catholics ever imagined. This has all become heartbreakingly apparent to me, as I have tried presenting my books to agents and traditional publishers, who are letting me know it’s not appropriate to be marketing a book like this in these times. The Church and its hierarchy have become uber-villains, and the implication is that no-one wants to read anything remotely associated with these devils in clerical disguise. Also, that I must be hopelessly out of touch with reality, to be writing such books—even though the scandal plays its role in each of them, and I try to address it honestly and realistically when I do refer to it. But no more defensiveness from me. I stand behind my work, and I’m going to continue as an independent, for the time being. I believe, alas, that this scandal will prove to be the breaking point for the Church: Either it will be forced into significant reform and change, or lose its standing and credibility completely. And so, for the next few decades, there may be no good time to write fiction with ties to Rome or clergy.
So here is the plan: I had planned Hard Cider Abbey as a five-book arc, with a very decisive ending. Then I would move on to something different. But things have changed: I will complete that arc, with the publication of Sins of the Father (another novella) in March, and then a full-length book this summer, Rattlesnake Orchard. But I’m not planning to end the series, only leave it open-ended. I have an idea for a new, more secular, series, involving some of the characters from the Abbey, and it may, or may not be, self-published. We’ll see…
But for now, Brothers Emerick and Odo are waiting for you, on Amazon, notwithstanding Mr. Bezos’ personal woes. It certainly is an interesting time, to be a writer…
Now available on Amazon:
Name of the Father
a Hard Cider Abbey Novella
Name of the Father
a Hard Cider Abbey Novella
When young Brother Odo of Holy Face Monastery experiences disturbing nightmares of his orphanage childhood in northern Quebec, he begins the search for his own identity and family roots. Who were the parents who so callously discarded him as an infant, on the winter streets of urban Montreal? He feels his future as a monk, indeed his faith and belief, hinge on the answers to these questions. With his trusted friend Brother Emerick, and Emerick's twin sister Maggy, he begins a journey into the past and a land nearly a thousand miles away, without leaving his monastery in Appalachian West Virginia. But eventually he will be forced to travel to a town on the edge of Chesapeake Bay, to confront the man who set his life in motion. A semi-cozy genetic and psychological mystery, with mild Gothic overtones; no profanity or excessive violence, just nine short chapters. (19,400 words)
Coming in March:
Called to Serve: The Untold Story of Father Irenaeus Herscher OFM was published by the Franciscan Institute in November 2018. The official biography of Thomas Merton's "Happy little Franciscan" and librarian, as well as spiritual advisor to many, including yours truly. Father's story comprises several threads: his journey to America at the start of World War I as an impoverished 11-year-old from Alsace-Lorraine; his call to vocation, while working as 17-year-old shipyard worker in Camden, NJ, then his unlikely rise into the halls of academe as a highly regarded historian and archivist. He becomes a kind of "Father Gump" as his life intersects with many famous personalities and big events of the 20th century, and he had a lot of stories to tell. Available from the Franciscan Institute, franciscanpublications.com (paperback, $24.99) or as an e-book from Nook/Barnes and Noble ($8.49) More information at the Facebook page "Remembering Father Irenaeus"