I am the author of more than 30 books, mostly historical novels about the history of British Christianity. My newest venture is The Monasdtery Murders series set in a monastery in remote Yorkshire where my contemporary American heroine, Felicity Howard has, in a moment of insanity, gone to study theology. A Very Private Grave, book 1 in the series will be out in June in the UK and in September in the US.
I am quite certain that the panoply of religions, cults, sects, denominations, and every other little division is the source of great humor for God and busy work for the angels. In many ways I think our quest for spirituality is like working to share a joke with someone you just met. You want to "get" it but you're not sure what you need to know. We have reached a spiritual chord when we can sit back and smile at the vagaries of life.
So it seems you may have a personal interest in the characters of your new book. What do your son and son-in-law think of the story and the way the clergy are protrayed? I have had occassion to think some of the authors who have undertaken writing about a Divine Detective has little idea what it means to serve God and work for a church (too often the verbs are reversed in real church life - we work for God and serve the churches wide variety of whims and worries). Is there a significant divergence in their theologies or ecclesiologies? Religion can cause any number of rfits in an otherwise functional family. Is your son-in-law an American Anglican or Episcopalian (a finely honed distinction these days). I had two ancestors who were Episcopal bishops in the 19th century, though no one ever spoke of them (a long but interesting story, mostly about the devious ways that churches fight). I think one of them especially may be scowling as he looks down on my low-church traditions and practices.
My wife lives in a low level but constant fear of what I might reveal about our family in my sermons. For that reason I try very hard to limit family remarks to the barest few. I can only imagine what would happen if some of my remarks made it into widely circulated print. However, I often refer to my mom (deceased almost 10 years) who had the stronger influence on me and my sisters (she was a librarian, as are both sisters - I am the black sheep). But mom helped me cope with dyslexia and encouraged me through academia. She was also a world class disaster in the kitchen - a source of shared family jokes.
Thank you for your prompt response! I am quite aware of detecs.com and have used that as a check for comapring the authors and characters I have found. That list is quite extensive, though he includes some characters I have chosen to leave off. Your comment about one of the character's echoing your thoughts is quite interesting. Many authors include themselves, often like a Hitchcok-ian figure in the background. I am looking forward to reading your book - and to its sequel.
I am working on a project that I have titled "Divine Detectives: Reading Crime Fiction as a Spiritual Exercise". (I chose "divine" over "clerical" because clerical can also mean secretarial or other administrative functionaries) My hope is to expand this into a sabbatical project, resulting in a book. One of the topics will be "Who Is In the Room?". It looks at not only the characters in a story, but also the author and the reader. I am curious to know how it feels to create a crime, then to solve it. How did your body react as you revealed the details of the crime? Did you feel a sense of relief once you exposed the crime? How did you change as a result of writing this story? I will be heading to Sams club today in the hopes of finding a copy of your book.