Okay, gang, my pal, Matthew Peters has written a religious conspiracy thriller along the lines of Dan Brown. I thought I'd hit him up with some (not very) pertinent questions.
Stuart: First of all, Matthew, welcome, and don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like a movie-star Jesuit—smart, short-trimmed beard, the whole nine yards. So…please defend your looks for those less visually pleasing (myself included).
Matt: Defend my looks? I thought I was here to talk about my
books. And if you continue to utter such inanities, I’ll make all my answers rhyme, just to annoy you. I’m on to you, Stuart West, and I refuse to be daunted by your ludicrous questions. I don’t need your help in making me look stupid. I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself… Now, THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS is the story of a renegade Jesuit who—
Stuart: Obviously, you know what you’re writing about. Are we talking about lotsa’ research, years of tortured Catholic school upbringing, or a future in Priest-hood?
Matt: Though I may sound like I knew what I was talking about, I really didn’t. In fact, most of the time, I have absolutely no idea of what I’m saying. I mean, I taught college at one point, need I say more?
Stuart: (Um, I think that says tons right there!) Okay, to tell you the truth, I’d never heard of the Cathars until I read your book. However, my research (Hello, Google) said they were an actual, much maligned and prosecuted, religion (sect?). But in your book, you correlate them with Satanism. From what I understand, they were tolerant of other religions. Sorta’ what Jesus taught, in my web-cobby memory. Matty, you got some ‘splainin’ to do here.
Matt: The Cathars sometimes referred to the Catholic Church as the church of Satan, largely as a result of the crusade the Church initiated against them. The Albigensian Crusade was the only one launched against fellow Christians. You see--
Stuart: Yeah, I haven't got all day. While reading your book—and you did a masterful job at it, Matthew—you made me realize how much effort and research and resolve it takes to come up with a viable religious conspiracy. One that compels. Something I don’t have the know-how to tackle as a writer. How’d you come up with it?
Matt: I didn’t. I simply asked my girlfriend to come up with an idea and then I stole it. And no, she’s not mentioned as a co-author. I want to receive all the credit and the proceeds.
Stuart: Along these same lines, yow! What a pessimistic world-view. We’ve got evil cardinals, a POTUS in the pocket, skiffy FBY guys…how much of this do you think is viable?
Matt: I don’t think any of it is viable. I simply pulled it all out of a hat, or my girlfriend’s head, which is often the same thing because she likes to wear hats. Unlike other religious thriller writers who shall be nameless—Ban Drown (be quiet Pig Latin Subliminal Man!)--I’m not under any illusions that what I wrote is even remotely true. When are we going to get to the real questions, here, Stuart?
Stuart: Just hold your water, there, Mattimus. So impatient. The book’s practically a world-hopping travelogue. The two lead characters travel from France to Italy to Bulgaria to Afghanistan (another place I’m forgetting). The places come alive very vividly. How many of these countries have you visited?
Matt: Finally, a real question. The answer is none of them. I used Google Earth and YouTube to write the whole thing.
Stuart: Half of the suspense was waiting to see if the protagonist, a Jesuit, would give in to temptation and sleep with the heroine. Am I wrong in kinda’ wanting him to?
Matt: For shame, Stuart West, for shame! Not only do you ask nonsensical and utterly ridiculous questions, but I see you’re a perv as well. (Actually, stay-tuned for upcoming books in the series to see whether this dynamic plays out.)
Stuart: What, me a perv? Okay, I’m sorta’ different but I liked two of your assasins, Singlitore and Blitz. I always find bad buys a riot to read, particularly when they’re nearly “Bondian” in their quirks. And I enjoyed watching the main evil cardinal sweat it out. Did you equally enjoy writing them? Or did you just set out to write evil.
Matt: I really enjoyed writing the evil characters. In fact, I liked it a little too much (laughing evilly and maniacally).
Stuart: There’s a quite a lovely written passage in your book when the pope dies and the protagonist watches the mourners gather in the streets. Did this hold a special meaning for you? (And you may as well include that as an excerpt since I, um, went ahead and spoiled it).
Matt: Thanks for noticing that, Stuart. Maybe you’re not such a bad chap after all. It was meant to stay in the reader’s mind because it helps set up the conflict Branson feels between his faith and the information he eventually discovers.
Here is the passage Stuart blabbed about:
The bus rumbled up Viadotto and turned right onto Rene. Smells of fried food and burning incense wafted through the open windows of the bus. A left turn brought them to Emilia, past white stone buildings, statues, and street vendors, past various fountains toward the heart of Pisa. The farther north they went, the closer they came to the Arno, where a vast migration of darkly-clad figures moved in the opposite direction, southeast toward Rome. It was a black exodus of grief, one of almost unreal proportions. Swarms of people with lowered heads and bent postures headed with desperate, slow, and inexorable steps toward a common, ill-fated destination. The dark edges of the black clothes stood out in stark contrast to the gray day that blurred the corners of buildings and churches. Rain fell, blended with human tears, and smudged the scene like a charcoal sketch. Open, dark umbrellas resembled the conical piles of volcanic ash upon which the country was built. On that gray morning Pisa wore a death-mask.
Stuart: Something I noticed…you refer to most of your male characters by their last names throughout the book, yet the two female leads are referenced by their first names by the omniscient narrator (ahem, you). Was this a conscious “tough-guy” noirish effect, an unconscious dealio or RAMPANT SEXISM?
Matt: I am NOT unconscious! Nor am I sexist! But you’re right--for the sake of consistency I should’ve referred to the babes by their last names, especially the really hot one.
Stuart: (Busted!) Finally, who’s your favorite action priest from either TV or movies or books? One of the greatest I (half-way) remember was Eric Estrada, wearing the collar and kicking butt in some cheesy ‘90’s movie. Totally sublime and absolutely ludicrous.
Matt: I vaguely remember that! Are you suggesting we cast Eric Estrada or Patrick Duffy in some cheesy Lifetime version of THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS? Not that I’m opposed to the idea of making a movie. I mean as long as there’s a buck to be had… But can we at least get Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson to play the lead roles? And of course my fav action priest is Nicholas Branson, SJ ;-)
Stuart: Nope. No big name stars for you, Matt. You'll be lucky to get Jim Jay Bullock. Thanks for coming on, Matthew. Go grab his book, folks. The Brothers’ Keepers. If you’re into religious, conspiracy thrillers, it’s a good one.
Matt: My, um, pleasure, Stuart (and I use the term very loosely). Why do I feel like I need to shower after this interview?