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Piers Paul Read on his thriller, The Death Of A Pope

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HH: This hour is a special hour of the Hugh Hewitt Show. As you know, I have a great love of thrillers. And next week, in fact, is fiction week on the Hugh Hewitt Show. I’ll be interviewing among others Brad Thor, Alex Berenson, Dan Silva, Vince Flynn, talking about the great thriller writers of America. But I’m giving you a taste of that by today introducing you to Piers Paul Read, whose brand new book, The Death Of A Pope, is one of the most interesting, provocative and very different thrillers that I have ever read, an accomplished nonfiction author as well. Pleased to welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show Piers Paul Read. Mr. Read, welcome, it’s great to speak with you today.

PPR: Good to speak with you.

HH: Now you’ve written fifteen different novels, and a half dozen more nonfiction books. Most of the American audience that I talk to will know Alive, the story of the Andes survivors, which you wrote thirty five years ago. When do you decide to go back and forth between the fiction and the nonfiction?

PPR: Well, I started out doing fiction, then I wrote Alive, and then I really alternated, more or less, between fiction and nonfiction. I like doing both. Novels are very exciting, because you never quite know what’s going to happen, and what the character’s going to do. Nonfiction is more like a sort of job of work. You know, you’ve got material, and you put it together as best you can.

HH: Now of the fifteen fiction works, how many would you characterize as thrillers, Piers Paul Read, like The Death Of A Pope is clearly a thriller?

PPR: Probably three or four.

HH: And is it a uniquely difficult task? Or is it easier than the others?

PPR: The plot has to be quite tight and precise, which makes it more difficult than a kind of general novel. And in particular this one, The Death Of A Pope, it’s quite an intricate plot, and so that, it was quite difficult.

HH: It is very intricate. It is also absolutely riveting. My hat is off to you, because when it was sent by Ignatius Press, I thought you know, I’ve read a lot of these – The DaVinci Code, and Angels And Demons. And I always find them unsatisfactory, because I know a little bit about the Vatican, and a little bit about theology, and they’re always so awful. But this is steeped in the actualities, if I can say that, of the Vatican. Did you intend that when you began?

PPR: Yes, I wanted it to be kind of rooted in the realities of the contemporary Catholic Church. I mean, that’s what interests me. And I think the death of Pope John Paul II and the question of his successor was a very crucial moment in the history of the modern Church.

HH: Last night, Pope Benedict was on American television as he gave the archbishops their new titles and their new stoles, and I was thinking about your book and our conversation today. You must have been extraordinarily pleased when he emerged as the new pope after the death of John Paul II.

PPR: I was very pleased indeed. In fact, I’d been asked about three months…well, a month or two before Pope John Paul II died by the Spectator, you know, which is a British political magazine, to write a piece about who would be the next pope. And I said I have no idea who will be the next pope. I’m not that close to the Vatican. Well then the editor said well, why don’t you write a piece saying who you would like to be the next pope. So I went through all the different frontrunners and favorite candidates, and then ended up by saying I think by far the best person would be Cardinal Ratzinger.

HH: Before we talk about the specifics of The Death Of A Pope, Piers Paul Read, let me ask you about Benedict, and the fact that he seems to be moving very slowly in appointing new cardinals. Do you share that perception with me?

PPR: Yes, I don’t have, you know, I’m not that close a Vatican watcher. I think he’s a cautious man. I mean, the Church moves in centuries. And I think it’s a matter of putting a slight tilt on the rudder here and there. And I think what he’s done, I think has been good. But it hasn’t been quite as dramatic, I suppose as some people had hoped.

HH: Let me run down the characters for the audience. Kate Ramsey, David Kotovsky, Juan Uriarte, is that how you would pronounce it?

PPR: Yes.

HH: Father Luke Scott, and Cardinal Doornik…now these are the keys, and I want to go in reverse order. Cardinal Doornik – can you explain him to the audience, and if you had a composite in mind of cardinals who you actually see cross the public stage?

PPR: Well, I suppose, he’s a sort of what you call a liberal, a liberal cardinal. I mean, I knew Cardinal Hume, who was our archbishop of Westminster, and I think you had your Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago. And I suppose that’s the kind of man he is, a sort of progressive, or he would call himself a progressive who would like to bring the Church into the modern world as he sees it.

HH: Now you mention Cardinal Hume. He’s actually in the book on Page 127. Is that a true account of his dark night of the soul?

PPR: Yes, yes, that’s public knowledge.

HH: Why include that? I thought it was fascinating, but are you trying to do a second sort of effort here to teach as well as entertain?

PPR: To do what?

HH: To teach as well as entertain?

PPR: Yes, yes, very much so.

HH: And Cardinal Hume’s dark night of the soul. What’s that intended to teach?

PPR: Well, he…it’s just, it’s meant to show that Cardinal Doornik is familiar with his liberal fellow cardinals. And Basil Hume, I knew him because he was a monk at Ampleforth while I was at school. And he was a teacher before he became the abbot. So I knew him quite well. And he did go through this dark night of the soul, this sort of dry period in his faith, and then suddenly was elevated to being archbishop of Westminster, which he hadn’t expected, and I think had a new sort of spiritual renewal.

HH: Now Cardinal Doornik in the book is plotting, and I’ll use that word plotting, to become the successor to John Paul II. And he is a liberal, and he is very much an off-putting figure. But then he becomes more and more sympathetic. Did you intend that arc of sympathy to develop?

PPR: I’d like…you know, I like to let the reader decide what to think about my different characters. I don’t like to create obvious villains and obvious…I suppose Father Luke’s nearest to me as sort of an obvious person who shares my views. But Doornik, I wanted, you know, he does represent a sort of very, very strong segment of the Church these days, and I wanted to give them their due, as it were. And I think to be fair to him, he doesn’t…funny enough, we had the archbishop, recent Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor to talk to the Catholic Writer’s Guild in London, and he said all cardinals go into the conclave thinking it’s just conceivable that I will be chosen as pope. So I don’t think he’s alone in thinking he might be chosen as pope. And he was worked on my Uriarte. I don’t think he himself plotted. I think he was caught up in Uriarte’s plot.

HH: Let me ask you about Father Luke Scott as well. He is the traditionalist priest. In a word, he is the hero of this book if you are like me, someone who roots for people in the course of this. But he’s not a Society of Pius X Catholic.

PPR: No.

HH: He’s a traditionalist Catholic. And there are no Society of Pius X Catholics in this book, are there?

PPR: No, well, the person who you might think would be in that way inclined is Doornik’s secretary, Monsignor Perez.

HH: Yes.

PPR: But he turns out to be not quite what you think he might be.

HH: What do you think of the Society of Pius X, Piers Paul Read?

PPR: Well, I’m not highly sympathetic toward them. I mean, I like the Latin Mass, but I’m not a sort of fanatic for the Latin Mass. And I think the main think that’s wrong with the Novus Ordo, the new English translation, is it’s badly translated, and the language is so unpoetic, if you like. And the liturgy, which in my childhood was absolutely wonderful and very mysterious and very attractive and made it very easy to believe in supernatural things became rather flat and banal. And so my children, they didn’t take to it in the same way. And I don’t know, it’s all this link with French right-wing politics, and a kind of…you know, I’m not totally in sympathy with them.

HH: Well actually, in the United States, I think of it more as people who are very, very serious about theology. I read one of your interview, and you were celebrating the arrival of the catechism of the Catholic Church.

PPR: Yes.

HH: And I think they’re very much that way, though perhaps…

PPR: No, I think I wouldn’t disagree with them on anything fundamental. They just seem, sometimes, rather kind of, I don’t know, rigid and uptight, and very, very sort of, give tremendous importance to some of the old, what you might call sacramental, you know, the biretta and the button-up tunics and things, and things which you know, I like, but I don’t think they’re essential to the faith.

HH: All right, to set up The Death Of A Pope, and the conversation that will continue, it occurs around the time of John Paul II’s death, as the Vatican is gathering its princes to select a successor. And into that come international terrorism and a lot of political issues, and liberation theology in the form of Juan Uriarte. Do you know people like him?

PPR: Yes. Yes, we had a parish priest in London who was very keen on the Sandinistas and the FMLN in Salvador, and indeed the whole lay structure of the Catholic Church in Britain was very much behind the Sandinistas and the guerrillas and the civil war in Salvador. I mean, the traditional Church in Salvador never got a look in as far as the British were concerned, and I think that’s true in America, too, wasn’t it at some point?

HH: And he’s very, he’s a very well drawn character, Mr. Read, because he’s sympathetic. You want to like him.

PPR: Yes.

HH: He’s a killer, but you want to like him.

PPR: Yes. Well, you’ve got to, I mean, he had to be attractive for Kate to fall for him. And I think…you start with him being accused of this terrorist trying to obtain this poison gas. And he gets acquitted. And you’ve got to understand why it was the jury found him not guilty. He’s a very, very persuasive and charismatic man.

HH: We’ll come back to that opening scene which will grab you, as indeed The Death Of A Pope Will.

– – – –

HH: This book opens, The Death Of A Pope, with the trial of an accused terrorist, a former priest, Juan Uriarte, who is accused of attempting to obtain weapons of mass destruction for the purposes of assisting the refugees in Darfur. And let’s pop ahead to Darfur for a second. How much research did you put into Darfur, Piers Paul Read, before you started this book?

PPR: A certain amount. I mean, it’s been very much in the news in Britain, and I think I should have thought in the United States as well, the terrible predicament they face there, because they’ve got these huge refugee camps. And because of the politics, no one seems to be able to do anything to protect them.

HH: The plot that is at the beginning of the book, I try not to give away too much of plot when I talk to authors…

PPR: Yeah.

HH: …includes this little exposition by Uriarte. “How did this civil war start? Competition for scarce resources. The desert is encroaching on the fertile land in the west of Sudan. The Arabs moved into Darfur. The inhabitants resisted. The government in Khartoum supported the Arabs. The inhabitants proclaimed their independence. The men went to the hills. The civilian women and children and the old took refuge in our camps. But we cannot protect them. Many of them die because they are, isn’t that an English expression, sitting ducks. The militia cannot find the men, so they rape and kill the wives and children. We feed them and clothe them and draw up reports for the different agencies, but we do not protect them.” This is an accused terrorist, and you’re getting inside of his mind as to what motivates him. How often do you think terrorists are motivated by such genuine humanitarian concerns, Piers Paul Read?

PPR: Well, I think one has to say that sometimes they are. I say this because when I was young, when I was at University of Cambridge, I was very left wing and very keen on liberation theology. And there were some very left wing Dominicans at Cambridge who ran a magazine called Slammed, which was very much in favor of revolution in the third world to solve the problems of the third world. And it was only very late, and as I grew older, and I got slightly wiser, that I realized if, well, not only was it not a practical political solution to most of the problems that they tried to solve, but that it certainly wasn’t what Jesus expected of Christians. And I have to say, when I was young, you know, I was fired by an impatience to solve the terrible problems of the third world.

HH: I was educated by Franciscans, third order regulars, and they had come back from the jungles of South America. And they were also liberation theology. And this was in high school. And I wondered about them. Is there, how many of those people who drank from that cup are still intoxicated with that brew, do you think, Piers Paul Read?

PPR: Well, I think they’re lying low now, because first of all, so many of those regimes failed, and actually turned out to be worse off, make people worse off. And secondly, you know, the whole Soviet experiment collapsed. The wall came down, and you know, just socialism became completely discredited all over the world. And the irony of ironies is that when finally in Salvador they had an election, a relatively free election, really, the party that won was Arena, which was started by D’Aubuisson, who was behind the assassination of Archbishop Romero. So you know, the claim of these Marxists that we represent the people, and the people are on our side were shown to be untrue.

HH: As you watch Chavez and now the return of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, is it like a bad dream happening again?

PPR: I know, it’s, particularly at my age, there’s a sense of déjà vu, as we say. I know.

HH: And you wonder, what’s the Catholic Church doing about that? Anything? Are they still in the same position?

PPR: I don’t think so. I think, I mean, I think since Pope John Paul II, I think certainly at least as far as I know, but certainly the Church leaders in South America are certainly, theologically very orthodox and sound. And I don’t think that that same…even the Jesuits I don’t think are quite involved in these revolutionary movements in the way they were back in the 1970s and ’80s.

HH: For the benefit of the audience, I have to give you the quick summary. Here, we’ve got a liberation theology priest cooperating with cops in Egypt who have been radicalized by their oppression at the hands of the Arab fascists to cooperate in a roundabout way with the Islamists in an attempt to destroy the Catholic Church. Fair summary, Piers Paul Read?

PPR: Yes.

HH: Yeah.

PPR: It’s complicated, because the other character in the book is Kotovsky, who is this British unlist for MI5, who doesn’t believe that Uriarte is innocent. He thinks he’s up to something, but he doesn’t know what he’s up to, so that while Kate goes off to Africa and gets involved with Uriarte, this young man, this young British secret service agent is trying to find out what Uriarte is up to. And it becomes very, very complicated, because on the one hand, he seems to be involved with what you might call al Qaeda, or sympathetic. But on the other hand, he’s involved with a cult synod. It’s rather very difficult to know what he’s going to do.

HH: The MI5 agent, Kotovsky, is a fascinating character study, because again, he’s a child of immigrants, and his grandfather, Zazu, is such a huge figure in sort of a very brief way. Why do that? Why make your MI5 guy a second-generation Brit and a broken…you know, the hero is of broken marriages. I’ve read some of your interviews. You’re very concerned about marriage and traditional morality.

PPR: Yes.

HH: Why do that?

PPR: Well, many more British come from…one always thinks of America as being the nation of the melting pot, and the Brits all being 100% Anglo-Saxon. But it isn’t true. I mean, most British, or many, many British people still have quite mixed origins. I mean, I’ve got German blood, Italian blood, Scottish blood, Irish blood as well as 50% English. And I think the idea of having a sort of second or third generation immigrant, first of all, you know, some of the people who live in England do appreciate British values and British sense of fair play in a way that the indigenous population no longer do. And secondly, I mean one of the sources of the novel, I served on a jury at the Old Bailey, and the policeman who brought the case against, it was an attempted murder, was, he was actually of Spanish origin. And I just thought well, it’s good to have a British character who isn’t just the sort of standard Brit in the way people expect them to be.

HH: Did you convict?

PPR: What?

HH: Did your jury convict?

PPR: We did, yes.

HH: And how…did that inform the jury scenes here on the initial trial of Uriarte?

PPR: Now that certainly…funnily enough, in the first draft of the novel, Kate was a member of the jury. She wasn’t a journalist following it, she was a member of the jury who became sort of intoxicated for this man, Uriarte.

HH: Quick question…

PPR: Have you served on a jury? It’s a very interesting process.

HH: Yes, I have. It almost drove me crazy, because it was a hung jury, and it went for ten days. And I’m a lawyer. I shouldn’t have been allowed to be on there. But let me ask you, Piers Paul Read, in terms of the craft, how much time do you spend writing?

PPR: Well, all my time, really. I mean, I don’t work from 7:00 in the morning until Midnight, but I do office hours, more or less. I take time off in the middle of the day to have a nap and go for a walk, and then come back and have a strong cup of tea and go back to work. But I’m getting older now, so I don’t quite work as hard as I used to.

HH: And how has this book been received in the United Kingdom?

PPR: Well, you see, it wasn’t published in the United Kingdom. My agent said this book is too Catholic. You won’t find a market here. And you should just forget this book and move onto another one. And he’s a very experienced man, and to sort of who I am, a British agent, so I took his advice, and was about to take his advice. But Ignatius Press had published an essay of mine called Hell And Other Destinations. And they’d always said if you wrote something else you’d like to show us, we’d like to see it. And I sent them this novel, and they said we’d like to publish it. And I thought they’d just do it sort of a few thousand copies. And then they said we’d actually promote the book. And I did this four week book tour.

HH: We’ll come back and talk more about that.

– – – –

HH: We were talking before the break about your agent and the publishing house. I’m amazed by this, because this is right up the alley in this DaVinci Code era, Piers Paul Read, and with Vince Flynn, who’s on the show next week, and Brad Thor, people turning out thrillers that sell by the millions, that your agent in Great Britain didn’t think there was an audience for this.

PPR: I think he thought it was too concerned with internal Catholic wrangling between traditionalists and liberals. And you know, the Catholic Church is, in America, you’ve got a much, you’ve got more people who believe in God, you’ve got a sort of what you might call a niche market, or I mean, you’ve got something like 60 million Catholics in America?

HH: Right.

PPR: And in Britain, there are many fewer Catholics, and a lot of them keep their heads down, because the Catholic Church is perceived as being a sort of reactionary force. And particularly with the rise of Islamic extremism, people now are saying in Britain, we’re all fundamentalists, or monotheistic religions are a bad thing. And Catholics have really become quite disliked in certain liberal, intellectual circles. And then we have Dawkins, you know, who wrote this book…

HH: Right, Richard Dawkins, yes. And we have Mr. Hitchens on the program each week, so we’re familiar with English disdain and sneer for the Catholic Church.

PPR: Right.

HH: But a lot of people nevertheless are looking for a way into the debate about the Islamists that they’re having with Christendom and with the world. And this makes it accessible. And when you throw in the cops and you throw in Charles Martin at the gates of…I mean, there’s a lot of accessibility. That’s what I think thrillers do, Piers Paul Read, which is to make the incredibly complex world accessible and entertaining to people who don’t the time to read The Looming tower, or to study CIA reports on…

PPR: Well, that’s what I would like to feel. I tell you, though, certainly what I tried to do, to make some of these issues intelligible and entertaining. And sometimes by writing it into fiction, you can make it more accessible for people than you can if it’s just a kind of dry nonfiction book.

HH: Exactly. Now Kate Ramsey, who is the central woman at the middle of this rather torrid love affair with a man she does not understand to be a terrorist, who’s in fact a genuine humanitarian while being a genuine terrorist, when you set her up, she had studied theology at Oxford, because that was, “an easy way in”.

PPR: Yes.

HH: I am not familiar with the admissions process at Oxford and Cambridge. Can you explain that to us a little bit?

PPR: Yes, well I’m afraid it’s true. You see, Oxford is a very old university, and it has many sort of professors of theology, but date, you’ll have some seats, whichever you call it, you know, endowed seats of professorships of a theology which dates back hundreds of years. But there aren’t very many people nowadays who particularly want to study theology. But there are very many people who want to go to Oxford, because it’s a very prestigious university to go to. And because they have to take in a certain number of students to study under these professors, if you want to get into Oxford, and you don’t really mind what you study, then you apply to study theology. It’s easier, much easier to get into Oxford than if you wanted to study law or medicine or history, or something like that.

HH: Were you intending to send a message as well about the quality of today’s theology?

PPR: It was meant to be an ironic barb.

HH: Yes, I thought so.

PPR: Very much so.

HH: Now Kotovsky…

PPR: Yes.

HH: He studies where? Manchester?

PPR: He would have gone to, yes, Manchester or Leeds, or somewhere, yes.

HH: And he’s the…

PPR: And he would have gone to a Catholic state school. We have these state-funded Catholic schools in Britain, comprehensive schools. He would have gone there.

HH: And he’s a smart guy. And I just thought that the juxtaposition of Kate Ramsey, the child of privilege up to Oxford, and David Kotovsky, the child of immigrants going to Manchester, but he’s the smart guy who’s saving the empire is really remarkable.

PPR: Yes. Well, you do get these paradoxes in Britain. And a lot of the sort of privileged classes take a lot of things for granted. And a lot of the, as I say, the more recent Britain as it were, understand that things have got to be fought for, in a way.

HH: Now in terms of the tactics adopted by MI5, which would raise eyebrows among the civil libertarians in the United States, are those acceptable to the average Brit in the age of the Tube bombings?

PPR: Well, that’s a sort of murky area. I mean, I had a friend who was, who retired now from MI5, who read a draft of the novel, and I think he thinks I take certain liberties in it. But his main worry was that the MI5 guy would seem to be subordinate to the MI6 guy, and he said that certainly wouldn’t have happened.

– – – –

HH: Piers Paul Read, I assume right now that Islamists are busy stowing away their materials for an assault on London when the 2012 Olympics come around, if they can bother to wait that long. In other words, I think it’s the most likely major city attack in the world.

PPR: Yes.

HH: Do you share that?

PPR: Well, I think yeah. I mean, it’s very difficult, because we have these large Islamic populations. And a lot of people with greater loyalties to, say, Pakistan or different parts of the Islamic world than they do, in a sense, to Britain. I mean, I’m entirely confident that 99% of them are totally law abiding. And in fact, they bring great advantages to Britain. There are things about devout Muslims that are very good. Their very concepts of modesty, and they have a much stronger sense of family than many of the sort of secular Britons these days. But the fact is that it’s very difficult to know what’s going on in the minds of some of the younger disaffected Muslims in this country. And MI5 has to work very hard to stay on top of the situation.

HH: Do you think they successfully can over the long haul, having now entertained all sorts of scenarios in your mind about what could happen, about biological weapons, about chemical weapons?

PPR: That depresses me. I mean, I don’t really know. One hopes and prays that they can keep on top of it. I mean, so far, we had this one very bad bombing on the London Underground, where many people were killed. But since then, they seem to have, through sort of MI5 surveillance, or through the total incompetence of the plotters, the would-be terrorists, they seem to have uncovered any plot. There haven’t been any major terrorist loss of life since.

HH: Knock on wood. Knock on wood.

PPR: And one hopes and prays that they can stay on top of it.

HH: Now I want to talk a little bit about the Catholic element of the book, in the form of Father Luke Scott. He’s a traditionalist priest. Uncle Lolo is the uncle of Kate Ramsey, who is the key figure here. You take a couple of frolics and detours, as we say in the law. One of them is Father Scott goes off to teach a retreat.

PPR: Yes.

HH: And I recently had, in a very unusual hour for the program, a good friend, Sister Prudence and Mother Regina, two wonderful sisters, to talk about their life in their orders.

PPR: Yes.

HH: It confused the heck out of a lot of people, et cetera. But I found, you were trying to do much the same thing, I think, which is to take what is hidden and not understood, and show people what it’s about. But at the same time, it was a very sad scene.

PPR: It’s a very what?

HH: Very sad scene.

PPR: Those sisters?

HH: Yeah, they don’t connect with the Father at all. He’s like from a different world.

PPR: No, it’s, again, it’s a slight sort of satire on feminist nuns. I mean, I have a great friend who’s a Carmelite nun, and I won’t say that it’s at all based on her or her community, but it gave me the idea. And it also enables me to…you know, a certain amount of the novel, which isn’t to do with the thrillerish aspect of it, is Father Luke’s relationship with his niece.

HH: Right.

PPR: His niece, Kate, representing all the kind of modern relativistic, pluralistic view of morality, and Father Luke trying to persuade her that Christian truth is valid even in a sort of secular society. And one of his critiques is of feminism. And so this enables me to in the talks he gives to the nuns, to outlines his views on the relationship between men and women.

HH: And you also are very up front. You believe that sex outside of marriage is an invitation to hell, and you believe in hell. And Father Luke is attempting to explain to his niece that this is real as opposed to an attitude or a tradition that doesn’t really have consequences. It’s a fascinating…do you ever try and make that point to live audiences?

PPR: I don’t very often speak to live audiences, and you know, I have four children. And they take what I have to say with a pinch of salt. You know, they’ve all stopped practicing their religion. And it’s a difficult problem, that, because I think the Church is quite clear about, and think Jesus in the Gospels is quite clear about the dangers of dying unrepentant after committing serious sins. And I think it’s bad that the way…and I think chastity is important. I think the Church always turns out to be right, even if many times in one’s life, one wishes it wasn’t, and doesn’t necessarily lead a good Catholic life. I think the Church always turns out to be right, and I think the downgrading of chastity as a virtue has led to the breakup of the family. And I think the breakup of family is the major social evil. I think it’s had untold consequences in terms of the misery of children of broken homes and the kind of delinquency, and the underperformance that follows from that.

HH: I believe I read in one of your interviews, and you put that down to contraception.

PPR: I think it’s a very difficult one, contraception, because you know, people have come to see sex as a kind of individualistic entitlement, almost a kind of sport, or a pastime that’s enjoyable, and who no one has a right to tell them that it’s wrong. But I think you know, the Catholic teaching is all of a piece. It’s a seamless garment. And I think to break the link between sexual pleasure and procreation, and sexual pleasure and marriage, has had fatal consequences.

HH: On Page 61, you have Father Luke say, “A wise man once said that one of the attractions of Catholicism is that it saves one from being a child of one’s time.” Who’s the wise man?

PPR: Chesterton.

HH: And why not quote him? I’m just curious. Why not attribute it to him?

PPR: Why not say it’s Chesterton?

HH: Yeah.

PPR: I don’t know why I didn’t. I thought…yes, I should have done that.

HH: Well, I don’t know that you should have. It made me ask the question, so I suppose someone will go Google the quote. It just, it’s…

PPR: Yeah.

– – – –

HH: Thank you, Piers Paul Read, for spending some time with us across the ocean. I’m curious about when you were on your book tour. Now Father Joseph Fessio’s a friend of mind, a frequent guest on the program, and so I know Ignatius Press.

PPR: Yes.

HH: But it’s very unusual for them to do this. How was the reception? You just concluded your American book tour, going out to the bookstores and meeting…how did people react to this?

PPR: It was very varied. I mean, the best reaction came from Catholic occasions, Catholic book shops. I did some Barnes & Noble signings, and they were, you know, there were some very interested people, and people who knew my other books, and it was a wonderful experience for me. I mean, going all around America, meeting all sorts of different people, and different kinds of Catholics. I mean, you do have kind of serious Catholics in America, but I think hardly exist in Europe.

HH: But I, as an Evangelical, I’m curious as to how the Evangelicals respond to this, because I think it’s one of the more serious books of popular theology interwoven with a magnificent thriller. I think it would cut across denominational lines.

PPR: Well, I would hope so. I suppose Father Luke, I mean, he very much talks about the Eucharist and that sort of thing, which perhaps the Evangelicals wouldn’t appreciate. I don’t know. I don’t have that experience. I mean, I wrote another thriller called On The Third Day, and that was very much appreciated by the Evangelicals. So who knows?

HH: What’s next for Piers Paul Read?

PPR: Well, I’m researching a book on the Dreyfus Affair, a nonfiction book.

HH: And then back to another fiction book?

PPR: And then I think back to another fiction book, yeah.

HH: Well, congratulations on your productivity and on a magnificent read. The Death Of A Pope is really…

PPR: Well, thank you for your interest in my book.

HH: Oh, I appreciate your taking the time with us, Piers Paul Read.

End of interview.

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