This Has Always Bothered Me
Posted by Literary Titan
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.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
Fearless by Paula Dail is a book adapted from a real-life story. It revolves around Maggie Corrigan, a 17-year-old Catholic girl who’s the eldest of seven children in South Chicago. Oppressed by patriarchy and religious boundaries, this is an empowering tale of a woman who survived nonetheless. When she is faced with the choice of either marrying and bearing more children or joining the Convent, her choice is clear. Maggie instantly realizes that she can’t possibly raise more children, and since the cause of her mother’s death was extensive childbirth, she decides to dedicate her life to God. In the turn of events, when the wider women’s movement takes control, Maggie openly stands up for women’s reproductive rights in a male-dominated society, and that’s when people realize that Maggie Corrigan is truly fearless.
Paula Dail has written an incredible masterpiece that is one of a kind. Fearless is an empowering book that is guaranteed to wake the feminist inside you. The fact that it is based on a real-life story makes it even more special and inspiring. Dail has written amazing characters that are fun to read about. Dail’s ability to write vivid details, a realistic setting, and lovable characters made this book easier to visualize.
The protagonist, Maggie Corrigan, is a strong-headed female character who’s seen as a Saint by some and a heretic by others. She is seen surviving in a patriarchal society where she is oppressed and bound by religious obligations, but that doesn’t stop her from voicing her demands. Maggie’s fearlessness and strength to stand up for women’s reproductive rights are applause-worthy and a source of inspiration for several young women around the world who are stuck in similar situations.
Fearless contains an important lesson: no matter the circumstances, if someone is dedicated and courageous enough, they can use their voice to stand up for their rights and succeed. This stirring book is an emotional roller coaster and contains an amazing message.
Pages: 388 | ASIN : B0B5B8Z36G
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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