Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My interview with the Catholic Writers Guild

I recently participated in an email interview with Maria for the Catholic Writers Guild newsletter; reproduced here by permission. If you are a Catholic writer and are interesting in a belonging to an organization that supports and encourages you, I'd recommend joining. I hope to attend the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE next year in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.


Stephanie, your book Supremacy and Survival is about how Catholics endured the English Reformation. Can you say in 3 words what characteristics allowed Catholics to survive such a tumultuous time?
Stephanie: Faithfulness. Courage. Priests.

Maria: What did you think about the Pope's visit to London? Turning point or moot point? Why? (By the way, were you there?)
Stephanie: I was not able to attend--I hope the visit will be a turning point for Catholics in Britain, at least. It should revive their faith and their dedication to Jesus. Pope Benedict made a special appeal to the young people, reminding them that happiness only comes with holiness. He also encouraged the Bishops in England and Scotland to welcome former Anglican priests and bishops and their congregations through the program he outlined in "Anglicanorum Coetibus." People in England, Scotland and Wales just have to act upon his encouragement.

Maria: How did you research or prepared to write this book? Was it easy to find a publisher?
Stephanie: I first taught a class, which helped me organize my material. Then I just kept supplementing my background in English history with books, articles, on-line resources, etc--rewriting and rewriting to lose the research in the story as much as possible. As to finding a publisher, I sent out Book Proposals to almost a dozen Catholic publishers and John G. Powers from Scepter wrote back to me a year after I'd sent the proposal asking to see the manuscript. Then I addressed some of his suggestions and rewrote the manuscript, working with a great copy editor.

Maria: If you had to pick ONE most influential English Catholic of the 16th & 17th century, who would that be? (I know, that may be an unfair question)
Stephanie: St. Thomas More is probably the more conventional answer--but I think of that era, it would be George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, founder of Maryland. He set out to prove that a Catholic could be true to his Church and his monarch, something no one countenanced in the 17th century. Lord Baltimore founded his colony with freedom of religion and true tolerance as its unique feature; one did not have to belong to the Church of England to take part its governance.

In the eighteenth century, it would be Richard Challoner, the Vicar Apostolic for England. He worked very hard to remind Catholics of that age of their legacy of holiness and martyrdom, while they were so ignored by British society that it wasn't worth persecuting them anymore!

In the nineteenth: Blessed John Henry Newman.

In the twentieth: ChesterBelloc (G. K. Chesterton AND Hilaire Belloc)

Maria: I may be looking at this twistedly, but my first thought upon the recent wave of Anglican conversions was: "will those beautiful churches finally be returned to their rightful "owners" (the Catholic Church)? But of course souls are more important than buildings. Do you think we will be experiencing more Anglican conversions into the Catholic Church?
Stephanie: Yes I do. But in England at least, "we" will never get those great Cathedrals back!

Maria: You had a recent interview on EWTN (September 19), how was that interview experience on EWTN?
Stephanie: I went to EWTN in January of this year, appeared on EWTN Live with Father Mitch Pacwa and then taped the Bookmark episode with Doug Keck the next day. By the time it aired, I really had forgotten what I said! The hospitality at EWTN was great and I really appreciated the opportunity.

Maria: Not only are you writer but also a speaker on various topics, like the English Reformation, Saints of the 16th & 17th century, Kings and Queens of England, etc. What is your favorite topic?
Stephanie: Probably my favorite is to discuss Blessed John Henry Newman--I just appeared on Barbara McGuigan's The Good Fight this weekend (October 2) and spoke recently at our local Newman Center, addressing aspects of his life and teachings.

Maria: Who is your favorite British saint?
Stephanie: Blessed John Henry Newman

Maria: What advice would you give to future writers wanting to tackle a historical topic?
Stephanie: Find some way to test your thesis on an audience--write shorter articles for publication or teach a class; prepare a platform with a website and a blog. Since you have some knowledge and background, just find the best sources you can and integrate them into your narrative.

Maria: So, what does a smart girl like you do in her free time? For some reason I picture you watching British comedies, like Faulty Towers and Yes Minister or are you more of a Dr. Who fan? What do you do to relax and refresh your mind?
Stephanie: I do like to watch TCM movies, but I'm not an aficionado of British comedy that much, although my favorite actors and actresses are from the UK (Deborah Kerr, Vivien Leigh, Robert Donat, etc). My husband and I have two dogs we enjoy walking and playing with. I love to travel and to plan trips--I'm hoping we can go to London next year with a priest friend (with side trips to Oxford/Littlemore and Winchester) and looking forward to a trip to Paris next

Maria: Thank you Stephanie, this was great!

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