This Has Always Bothered Me

Author Interview
Author Interview Paula Dáil

Fearless follows a young Catholic girl who enters a Convent rather than having a family of her own. While serving God, she finds her voice to also speak out for women and reproductive rights. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I wasn’t so much inspired to write this story as the story found me and occupied space in my head for a long time. Eventually, Sister Maggie Corrigan’s voice became too strong to ignore and I decided to go ahead. Once I made that decision the story wrote itself.

The impetus to sit down and begin writing came from watching society deliberately and systematically erode women’s reproductive and other rights. The fire-breathing feminist in me knew I needed to push back. I did not, however, think Roe v. Wade was in danger of being overturned when I began the book, and the fact that it was just as the book was released is coincidence.

The seeds for the story were planted during years I was an active academic poverty researcher and met strong-minded, determined nuns who toiled in the trenches of poverty every day and were staunch advocates for women. They recognized that their Church’s position on women’s reproductive rights was wrong-headed, and quietly disregarded it as they helped poor women gain control over their lives, which included control over their reproductive choices. Some nuns were more forthright and outspoken than others, but all were strong feminists without realizing it.

Behind all this is the realization that while the Catholic Church is a major player in the American social welfare system, the Church’s core message toward women, and poor women in particular, creates dependency rather than fostering empowerment. Worse, the Church’s position against women’s reproductive rights is harming the women they are proposing to help. This has always bothered me.

Maggie grew up in a traditional Catholic community and enters the Convent. As time passes her views and beliefs start to change and she becomes a voice for change. What were some driving ideals forces behind your character’s development?

Maggie is a very complicated, conflicted personality who thirsts for justice, believes what she believes and doesn’t care who disagrees with her. I don’t think anyone can truly feel that way and proceed to do what Maggie tried to do unless they are deeply wounded and very angry, and those traits defined Maggie. She tried to turn these traits into a force for good—although if asked, she would deny this.

Raising hell just because she can is another of Maggie’s traits. A good fight is in her blood, and her ability to stand her ground, even if it means provoking one is the key to her survival in the world and the family she was born into. She lacks the ordinary social and emotional filters that cause most people to think twice about what they are doing or saying. Maggie doesn’t care how others view her and is prone to knee-jerk reactions rather than thinking things through. Emotionally, this works for her often enough to keep doing it.

Maggie also personifies the reality that nuns and priests are flawed people who possess all the faults and failings everyone struggles with. There is nothing about choosing religious life that elevates them above ordinary human beings. It’s hard not to respect Maggie for what she tries to do, but she’s not very likeable.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

This is a story about the fight for women’s reproductive rights within the wealthiest, most powerful institution on the planet. To fully grasp this, one must understand that the Catholic Church is foremost a patriarchal political institution that operates off of a political agenda designed to preserve its power on the world stage. The more Catholics there are in the world, the easier it is to maintain its power, and the surest way to increase the Catholic population is to forbid Catholic women from exercising any choice over their reproductive lives.

As a patriarchal institution, the Church always acts in its own best interests, which clearly are not the best interests of Catholic women. It is also a business whose product is selling religion in the form of hope and the promise of eternal salvation, which is a very powerful and appealing message, especially to society’s most vulnerable members. The barriers to full social and religious equality women face as the result of patriarchal dominion over society’s major policy-making institutions are substantial and extremely difficult to overcome—and the fight for women’s reproductive rights is a perfect example.

All of this said, at the heart of this story is a strong woman who fights hard every day for what she believes in, regardless of the personal cost.

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

My next book also involves the Catholic Church, which I view as an endlessly fascinating, socially dangerous institution that both promotes ideals of goodness and mercy and advocates for policies that bring great harm to women. Tentatively titled “Conflicted”, the plot involves a Catholic priest with a golden future in the institutional Church who struggles with his vocation and a Jewish woman who forces him to confront everything he believes about Christianity, the institutional Catholic Church, and relationships with women. The first draft is about 80% complete, so don’t expect it to be released before sometime in 2024.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Having grown up the oldest of seven children in a motherless, impoverished, Southside Chicago Irish-Catholic family, at age seventeen Maggie Corrigan struggles with two choices: marriage and bearing more children than she can possibly care for, or entering the convent. She decides to dedicate her life to God, but never forgets her roots, or that her mother died in childbirth after too many pregnancies. As the Church’s Vatican II reforms and the wider women’s movement take hold, she realizes that by labeling birth control as a sin and abortion as murder, the patriarchal Catholic Church is severely endangering women’s lives. Never doubting her vocation, she decides she can no longer remain silent and, no matter the personal cost, is compelled to take up the fight for women’s reproductive rights within the wealthiest, most powerful institution in the world-ruled over by a cabal of middle-aged men with no familial responsibilities. Some label her a heretic and others call her a saint, but everyone agrees that Sister Maggie Corrigan is fearless. 

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The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on November 5, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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