To Make a Religious War

D. Grant Fitter
D. Grant Fitter Author Interview

The Vatican Must Go is a fictionalized account that explores what might have brought all out war against a government attempt to stamp out Catholic Church control over the soul of Mexico. What inspired you to write this novel?

First, let me tell you that from the first time I set foot in Mexico, I found it an absolutely fascinating place. It is a country full of contradictions. It is an unlikely mixture of instruments that somehow plays a harmonious tune. So, being a person who wants to know how a clock works as much as wanting to know what time it is, found it challenging, not so much to adapt to, as to understand how it ticks.

So, in that pursuit, there is a trove of interesting stories to be told, and City of Promises my first novel challenge, covered eight years in the 1940s, a decade acknowledged as “Mexico’s Golden Age”. Many of the cultural accomplishments of the Golden Age are now cultural traditions held tightly by all Mexicans. That work also led to traces of mysterious talk of a hidden piece of history referred to as the “Cristiada” and sometimes called the “Cristero War”.

Going back to when I first arrived in Mexico, I knew of it as a staunchly Catholic country but was puzzled by the absence of priests and nuns in public. I later learned that by law, the Catholic religious habit was only allowed to be worn in the privacy of church property. This, in the late 1960s, of all things, but it was a thought filed away somewhere in my mind.

There are all kinds of interesting subjects an historical fiction author can uncover in Mexico, where inspiration abounds. However. for me, the tricky part is envisioning a sound approach angle to take in building those subjects into a story.

Over time, accumulations of scarcely spoken religious persecution stories led me to research information on the matter. Because the Mexican government and the official history curriculum does not recognize the conflict took place, there is not much in the way of readily available material. Eventually, while searching Vatican papers, I landed on one French born, Vatican scholar who had recently written and filed a paper on the Mexican Catholic rebellion, in which he speculated upon US based Masonic Order complicity.

I had found the story building morsel I needed to make a religious war in Mexico palatable to a broader audience.

Add to the morsel that during my college days in southern Colorado I had come to appreciate the derelict Ludlow massacre monument site, the abandoned mining camps, and knew people who lived through the coal field strike breaking terror referenced in the early going of the book. Gathering the ideal characters from Colorado to form the mercenary force was easy. You never know when listening to old timer conversations might come in handy.

So, directly to your question, when it comes to writing a tale of Mexico, inspiration comes built in.

I enjoyed the ease with which you blended political, religious and historical elements. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

I’m pleased to hear that and thankful you are asking this question, because it gives cause for me to reflect on the result of my work in order to come up with an adequate response. Hmm. Perhaps, I am near sighted and if so, it may have been best if you had included social class in your list of elements. That is because class distinctions are an underlying element of almost everything running through my mind in every analysis and interpretation of those things which influence Mexican life. If I am right about that, it holds up to reason that social class is the thread running through the three elements you mention, to seamlessly stitch them together.

I think of my themes of greed and humility. Politics is an economic social class. Its members even have a name; the politicos and they are governed by greed.

It could also be argued that the Catholic church is also guilty of that nasty theme of greed, because it turns out it was the beneficiary of the spoils of war. Come to think of it, they would have also been the beneficiary of continued peace. So, there we have another important theme. Power.

The poor Mexican campesino is the most-humble social class represented in this story. I wanted for them to display their dignity and dedication, so that is another important theme. At the close of the story, it is the campesino who carried on the war against government religious persecution. They wanted nothing more than to fight for the right to choose religious freedom. The church only supported them spiritually but never financially. The campesino did it alone.

Right and wrong are another set of themes. I wanted to show that a person does not necessarily have to favor a political side or a religious side in order to commit to a just cause that is right for humanity.

Abe is probably the least likely candidate, but in the end, he is the one who committed most completely to a life changing event.

Rosa’s character was intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

This is a wonderful question falling as it does on the heels of your previous query. I wanted Rosa to be representative of an unfairly treated segment of the Mexican social strata. For myriad reasons these are women who have little choice but to parlay their assets into a source of income, hustling drinks as a cocktail waitress. Personally, I feel for the many women like Rosa who are summarily written off by so many in the mainstream society. Rosa finds herself with little choice of accomplishing her personal goal of improving the lives of polio children unless she can bring in adequate income to afford her contribution to society. She is an amiable character. Given the opportunity in The Vatican Must Go, she easily proved herself a genuine benevolent heart.

Rosa had to be a good judge of character. She had dealt with aggressive men every day and mastered how to tactfully deal with them. When she did fall for Matt, she knew in an instant her instincts were right, and she never doubted herself. She gave her everything to the relationship. The same goes for Rosa’s all-in involvement in her Catholic friends’ movement. I wanted there to be no mistake about Rosa’s rock-solid character.

In my previous novel it was Ana, a dancehall fichera or paid dance partner who rose to the great heights of a strong female character with enviable principles.

I try hard to always bring the ideals required to develop a strong female character and I thank you for recognizing that in your line of questioning.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Next up is a novella tentatively titled Silvia’s Story. It is the story of a young lady who appeared in my first novel, “City of Promises” and did not get the full character development she deserved. She was much too interesting and flawed to not let her have her own prequel explaining how it is she was motivated to migrate to Mexico City and rose so fast to her own brief brush with fame.

With fingers crossed, I can tell you Silvia’s Story is tentatively scheduled for 2020 year end release.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

It’s the 1920s and in firmly Protestant United States, there is deep concern about the growing spread of Catholicism and fear of the church /state roots of its history.
South of the border, Pancho Villa is gone and Mexico is just settling into a new, post revolution form of democratic government. Vatican influence over the psyche of the country remains the sole enemy of the revolution and so, power brokering generals have written a new constitution to include articles restricting the power of the church over the citizenry, reclamation of vast, rich Church land holdings, and to detach it from Vatican control.
Back in United States, Mexico’s turmoil is a welcome sight to certain groups of powerful people who believe evangelism is powerfully representative of the American Way. If only a Mercenary Force could be dispatched to represent those American interests and assure the menace of Catholicism throughout North America is kept in check.
Enter Coloradan, Charlie Coates, who stealthily mananaged the bloody John D. Rockefeller strikebreaking campaign during the infamous Colorado Coalmining Wars.
To this day, the government of Mexico chooses to ignore the atrocities and battles of the early 20th century Cristero War which claimed over 120,000 lives. It was a long and dirty war selectively forgotten by the official history curriculum.
The Vatican Must Go is one historical fiction account of what might have brought about all out warfare against government attempts to stamp out Catholic Church control over the soul of Mexico.
This historical fiction novel, The Vatican Must Go, by D. Grant Fitter is his second solid contribution to the Tales of Mexico sub genre series, written in the great tradition of Graham Greene, Gary Jennings and Clifford Irving.

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Posted on October 25, 2020, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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