Wednesday 24 April 2019

Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler

Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler 

I had two books by Father Michael E. Giesler on my two be read pile for a few years. Once I read the first one, I have been on a quest to track down and read all of his works. Father Michael is a as a priest, professor, and retreat director for one of the retreat centres of Opus Dei. He has published two academic works for his masters and graduate studies. Since then he has published four fiction and four non-fiction works. The six I have read were amazing books. I was able to track father Michael down and Father Michael E. Giesler recently took some time from his busy schedule to answer 20 questions for the readers here at Book Reviews and More. So here in his own words is father Michael.

1. You have 8 books available in English, including a historical fiction trilogy. And yet they are published under a wide variation on your name: Michael E. Giesler, Rev. Michael Giesler, Father Michael Giesler, Michael Edward Giesler and just Michael Giesler. Even Across the Historical fiction trilogy there are three variations on your name. Can I ask what name you would prefer if you could consolidate them all under one name?

In my spiritually themed books, I have preferred to use Father or Reverend before my name. For the historical Fiction trilogy, I preferred to use my untitled name, since I began writing the first of them, Junia, as a layman back in the late 70’s. Also the main characters in the early Christian stories are not priests, but men and women among the ordinary faithful of 1900 years ago.

2. Speaking of your historical fiction trilogy which is comprised of: Junia (2002), Marcus (2004), Grain Of Wheat (2008) the three books are published by Scepter, but books 1 and 3 have eBooks and Kindle editions, and book 2 Marcus, does not. Would you like to see this volume available as an eBook also?

Yes, I would like to see it as an e-book and may bring up this point with my publisher.

3. You self-published through Create Space the volume, Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests, I am wondering if you have plans to release it as an eBook?

If there were a clear surge of interest in the book, I would negotiate with Create Space and possibly Amazon to offer it as an ebook. I think it would increase accessibility.

4. Your writing career spans 41 years, from the publication of Christ the Rejected Stone in 1974 to Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship published in 2015. Do you plan time for writing around your duties as a priest, professor, and retreat director? Or When you get an idea the writing project becomes a priority?

I have been able to keep up a steady pace of writing over the years, and have found enough time between my duties as a priest and spiritual director, with the help of God’s grace. If a clear idea or motivation comes for writing a specific book, as in the case of Called by Name for the Year of Priests, or the Guidebook
for Confessors, I put those books on the “fast track”. In the case of You See Me, You Hear Me, I was specifically requested for a book on prayer, and was
able to complete it quickly over a summer vacation.

5. You have published four fictional works, and four non-fiction volumes. Do you find it easier writing fiction or non-fiction? Why?

While having to work hard at both genres of writing, I find them equally challenging as well as satisfying. As a writer, the most important consideration for me is if I have something useful or inspiring to say. That is enough motivation for me to get started and to complete the book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

The idea for a book could be generated in many different ways. Since my college days, I’ve always been interested in Greco-Roman civilization, as well as the spread of early Christianity. This was the seedbed for my novels on the early Christians. As a priest, I have always had the desire to help my brother priests, and this generated the idea of a book of meditations to help them in daily ministry, and of a practical guidebook on hearing confessions.

7. Is the process different when writing fiction compared to when writing non-fiction?

Yes, there is a far greater use of the imagination in writing fiction. I have to imagine and create the characters, the challenges they face, and the timeline of their lives. There are also dramatic effects to the story, which require several rewritings and re-focusing. In writing non-fiction, I have to pay far more attention to research and the proper framing of ideas and words. I cannot leave things for the reader’s imagination and feeling, but need to write sure and well-founded conclusions.

8. One of the greatest strengths in your fiction books are the characters, they are so solid and believable. The characters you create, are they reflections of people you know, composites of different people you know or entirely your creations?

Some of the characters, like Junia and her friend Marcia are simply drawn from my imagination and little bit of observation of young women and their interaction with one another. Other characters like Scintilla, servant of Marcia who gives Junia lessons in Christianity, are simply creations to keep the story going and alive. Junia’s father Gaius and her mother Aurelia are more based on particular characters in other novels. The character Numer is drawn from my knowledge of certain members of the Catholic institution Opus Dei, who have a combination of faith, intelligence and good humor in the way they live and react to others.

9. Which character from your fiction books is your favorite? Why?
Of them all I like Marcus the most. He has big ideals, but overthinks things and has a certain naivete which makes him a little mysterious, as well as charming. He also has a big heart for others. For this reason I was glad to put him as the main character in the last two books. I also was able to show his conversion to Christianity in a more developed way than I did with his sister Junia.

10. Which character in your novels was the hardest to write and why?

I really did not have a problem with any of the characters. As the story flowed, the characters came to me rather naturally…each with his or her own personality traits.

11. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated: "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

Though many of my characters lived 1900 years ago, and were fervent Christians, I like to imagine them being with God right now. At times I like to think that their lives more or less corresponded to the stories in my novels. And for this reason I would like to meet them some day in the afterlife … especially Junia, Marcia, Numer, and Atticus the priest who is sent to the lead mines in Dacia but has such a powerful love for his fellow Christians.

12. A few of your books are available in Spanish, are their plans to translate any of the others in to Spanish? Other Languages?

I would hope that all the novels could be translated someday into European languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and German. I would like to see Marcus translated into Spanish fairly soon, since it is the key transitional book between Junia and Grain of Wheat.

13. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to grow in their Catholic faith what books would you suggest?

Apart from a thorough reading of Sacred Scripture, I would recommend the Confessions of Saint Augustine, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and the complete Didache series published by Midwest Theological Forum in Chicago.

14. What are some of your favorite fiction authors and books that you can recommend to our readers?

I’m a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I find that most of their books are quite rewarding, though Lewis himself did not become a member of the Catholic Church, at least while he was alive on earth.

15. Can you think of a book or two that the readers are unlikely to have heard of that you would highly recommend?

A new book by Scepter Publishers comes to mind, on the life of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, a Spanish woman who is soon to be beatified in Madrid. In a simple ordinary way her life demonstrates a life of prayer and service to the Church.

(Note: Guadalupe: The Freedom of Loving by Cristina Abad Cadenas, is the book he is making reference to.)

16. What current projects are you working on or are in the back burner in some stage of development?

I am working on a long poem entitled THY KINGDOM COME, which summarizes the history of salvation from the creation of Adam and Eve until the Second Coming of Christ. As you can see, it’s a very ambitious project and I am trying to get some feedback for what I have written so far from good friends and fellow authors. I am also working on a theological study of the “Mystery of Co-redemption” … our vital union with Christ in order to redeem the world…with practical applications to our contemporary life.

17. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy or could you recommend?

I’ve always liked musicals, especially from the 1940’s and 50’s. They leave you with an upbeat feeling, a trait often lacking in today’s movies.

18. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

The goal of all education is to lead a person from ignorance into truth. One reaches the truth by a combination of personal reflection and appreciation for the thoughts and discoveries of the great minds of the past. It is not enough to simply be informed about things; the truly educated person must have the ability to look at things both deeply and “fondly”, that is with a certain amount of love, which is the classical definition of wisdom.

19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

I would definitely want all 73 books of the Old and New Testament recognized as inspired by the Church; the Catholic Catechism 1994 edition; the second encyclical of Pope Emeritus Benedict on the virtue of Hope, (Spe Salvi, 2007). Finally Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian and English, particularly the Purgatorio and Paradiso sections of that poem.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists particularly those looking to have their art reflect their faith?

First, be very familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church, and foster a particular devotion to Christ’s Sacred Heart and to Mary: Most Pure his Mother.

Second, have a dream with what you would like to do with your work. Hopefully it will not simply be to express yourself, but to create something beautiful that will instruct and inspire others to become better persons, and will lead them closer to Truth and Beauty Himself.

Finally get the sincere reactions of others to what they write. This may be hard on the ego at first, but it will enhance your work in the end. As my father used to say, who was a creative writer himself, “the best writer is a re-writer.”

Thank you, Father Michael, for your time in answering the twenty question. I have loved your books I have read and encourage all readers to give them a try. I look forward to some of the pieces you are currently working on. May God continue to bless you, your ministry, and us your readers. Thank you again.

Books by Rev. Michael Giesler:
You See Me, You Hear Me
Guidebook for Confessors
Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship
Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests

Christ the Rejected Stone
How Christ Saves Souls―with Us: The Mystery of Co-Redemption

Spanish Editions:
Dios te ve y te oye


Christian Historical Fiction Trilogy:
Grain Of Wheat


Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler.

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