In this post, I want to share a little about religion in my book and how I crafted my work from my own life experiences and beliefs. They say that you should “write what you know”, so I guess it makes sense that my book centers on religion.
I am a Roman Catholic. My stepfather-to-be, Joe, had recommended St. Ignatius High School to my older brother, Tom. Joe was Catholic, but my family was not. When Tom decided to go to St. Ignatius, he was enrolled in religion class. His teacher heard that Tom was not Catholic and asked if he wanted to convert. As Tom recalls, he said, “Um . . . okay.” (Ha!)
His religion teacher gave us instruction at home. I wasn’t seeking religion, and I had never even seen a priest before, but none of that mattered. After just a few words from the priest, I received the gifts of understanding and faith. Don’t underestimate children! My family was baptized on April 1, 1961--April Fool’s Day. God was laughing, but it was serious business.
San Francisco has a very large Catholic community. Even today in SF, there are 25,000 students in Catholic schools and 55,000 in public schools. I know two religious – Jesuits – who left to marry, but two of my classmates from St. Ignatius, who became Jesuits, are still happy priests.
There was even a time in my own life when I considered the priesthood.
What really attracted me to religious life was living in a religious community. Religious life is based on family life. There are no real differences, as the religious community you join becomes your family in every way. By the end of high school, I had been around priests for seven years, and I saw in them fathers and brothers. I might have joined, but I never did.
Perhaps, my own thoughts about joining the priesthood explain why I wanted one of the main characters in my novel to be a priest. This character is named Father Ralph, and he is trying to come to terms with the murder while facing a midlife crisis. He must choose between his vows and having a chance at romantic love.
Father Ralph’s struggle mirrors the struggle I might have faced had I ultimately decided to take vows. Would I have left religious life if I had become a priest? I don’t think so—but I don’t know for sure. Father Ralph is also directly based on someone that I knew growing up. It’s a rather scandalous story! A priest in my dad’s family actually left the priesthood in his sixties for a woman. My mom described her as “dumpy.” My mother thought she was not worth the loss of a vocation. There were even rumors that before he left he was having an affair with someone else – a very handsome woman who was a prominent member of society.
Pretty City Murder also explores characters who are struggling with ideas of right and wrong and who commit various sins—adultery, murder, robbery, cohabiting, and more. My own personal ideas about morality are reflected in my work—and those ideas, of course, ultimately come from the Almighty.
Today, I am active in the Church. I am currently involved in setting up three youth groups in my parish of All Souls, South San Francisco: ages 11-13, 14-17, 18-40.
Obviously, you’ll have to read the novel to get a better understanding of what I have referenced here (which I hope you will!). The amazon link is provided below. I also hope you’ll leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!
If you have any questions about the Catholic faith, or, if you would like to share your experiences, please consider joining the contact list.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great week!
Purchase Pretty City Murder here!