Interview with religious suspense thriller author W.R. Park

Welcome to
February, Readers! 

We’re starting the month off with an interview with WR. Park
with the spotlight on his newest thriller, The
Franciscan
.
Bio:
Author,
columnist, teacher, lecturer, past president of three advertising agencies,
William R. Park, Sr. is nationally known and respected in the advertising and
literary worlds—and a member of International Thriller Writers, Inc. His past
works include: The Talking Stones, Overlay, Fatal Incision, plus ten others,
each backed by glowing praise from numerous bestselling authors.
WR.PARK
currently resides in the Kansas City area with his wife Genie. To learn more,
and read what bestselling authors said about his body of work, visit: http://www.wrparkpublishinggroup.com/
Welcome, WR. Please tell us about
your current release.
The Franciscan is a religious suspense-thriller.
Fans of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code will
enjoy reading it.
It’s a
novel I wrote 14-years ago about a factitious pope whose changes to Catholic
doctrine place his life in grave danger. His name was Pope Francis. Best Thrillers website wrote: “The
Franciscan
is a fast-moving feast of betrayal, corruption and murder told
by a master craftsman. Unlike Dan Brown’s Robert Longdon, WR.PARK’s vision of a
gutsy pope is far more engrossing.”
Synopsis: “The pope is not infallible.” When
the newly elected Pope Francis utters this bold and unprecedented statement, he
captures the attention of the world’s population. His reforms leave no corner
untouched as he strips away the mask so long held before the face of the
papacy. Bringing with him and open-minded candor rarely seen by public figures
– he’s an inspiration to his followers – and a threat to those who oppose him.
What inspired you to write this book?
If I
explained the entire story of a most profound spiritual phenomenon during my stay
at a monastery over a three-year period, many would consider me delusional, at
best. When I retired, I hoped to write a novel called Overlay (which later became my fourth novel). However, when the
monastery experience occurred, an idea for a novel took center stage in my
mind, thus the first novel in The Franciscan Trilogy.
About all I
care to say about the event (unless pressured) is that five of the ‘dreams’
experienced by three main book characters were actual dreams I had (among
others) during that three-year span of time at the monastery. And the more I
investigated/researched my Catholic heritage/faith—the more enthusiastic I
became about writing and completing The
Franciscan
. I truly believe there’s a profound message lurking between the
pages of this book.
When I
penned this novel about a fictitious Pope Francis fourteen years ago, I never
envisioned that a future pope would select the name, Pope Francis I. This
novel’s Pope Francis is a bold and courageous pope whose sweeping reforms
reversing ancient Vatican edicts place his life in grave danger from within.
The world can only hope and pray that today’s Pope Francis, as bold as he is,
will be fruitful in his endeavors and have a lengthy and healthy reign.
Excerpt from The Franciscan:
A
swarm of locusts couldn’t have devoured an acre of grain any faster than the
Franciscans consumed their evening meal. Dom was hardly half through when the
others were refilling their coffee cups, and Nathan stood to relate what was
recorded in the archives on the subject of papal infallibility.
“Dom,
my brothers, since we’re all more interested in what the newly elected pope has
to say about this highly volatile and controversial theme, I’ll just hit the
highlights of my research, omit lengthy commentary, and be as brief as
possible.
            “Linus was the first recorded pope,
reigning from 67-76 AD. Peter, who was never considered a pope during his
lifetime, was however bestowed the distinction hundreds of years after his
death, making him the first practicing pope. We’re fully aware that Peter made
numerous mistakes prior to our Lord’s crucifixion and after. If it hadn’t been
for Paul’s intervention, Peter might have taken Christianity down the wrong
path. In 1869, Pope Pius IX called for the first Vatican Council. They jointly
declared a pope to be infallible. His edict didn’t end there. In disagreement
with the fifteenth century Council of Constance’s decree that a pope is subject
to the General Council, he further declared that the Church obtains its faith
from the pope, not the General Council.
            “Dozens, perhaps a hundred popes,
contradicted one another in sundry ways, even charging a predecessor with
heresy. For instance, Pope Formosus (891-896) was exhumed after he had been
dead almost a year and accused by Pope Steven VII with being elected
dishonestly. After the charge, Formosus’ body was tossed in the Tiber River,
then retrieved and reburied. Now get this. Ten years later Pope Sergius III
again exhumed Formosus, and censured him anew. He went for another swim in the
Tiber, this time minus his head. Somehow the headless body was found and was
reburied in St. Peters.
“In
the early thirteenth century Pope Innocent III contended he was subject to no
law, even if it was evil, because no one had the right to judge the pope. Later,
Pope Gregory proclaimed the pope to be lord and master of the universe. Pope
Boniface VII later declared; ‘I am pontiff, I am emperor.’ And as others had
done before him, he made his nephews cardinals, bestowing land and precious
valuables to his family. In fact, several popes had sons who became popes.”
Nathan
was standing now, and begun to nervously shift from one foot to the other. “Sex
seemed to be a preoccupation with many popes. Pope Benedict IX, in the eleventh
century, abdicated in order to marry. The woman he loved was his cousin. She
refused him, so he wanted the papacy back. Two popes I came across were
murdered in bed by jealous husbands. Still another two were charged with
incest.           
“Early
on, and for almost two hundred years, there were three dozen popes. Many were
elderly and feeble, some in their early twenties; a few were teenagers. A
number were banished for one reason or another; some murdered. Others were
out-and-out fakes. In the tenth century, Pope Benedict V fled with the Church’s
finances after disgracing a young woman. And, oh yes, he too was slain by an
outraged husband.
“At
the beginning of the eleventh century Pope Gregory VII enforced clerical
celibacy, in effect making harlots of thousands of wives; severing husband from
wife, father from children. It’s reported that hundreds of faithful wives took
their own lives. His excommunication’s of kings for personal profit incited
bloodshed throughout the world. He was accused with forging and altering
Council documents to back his claims. It’s assumed many are included in today’s
Canon Law. He proclaimed the Roman Church has never erred, nor could it ever. And
that a justly elected pope is a saint by being Peter’s direct successor.
“Here’s
another bit of evidence supporting the preoccupation with sex and personal
fortune. It was Pope Julius II who pressured Michelangelo into making the newly
constructed Vatican a grand piece of art. Another accomplishment was to father
three daughters in spite of syphilis devastating his body. And for those of you
unaware—Julius II was a Franciscan.
“Popes
had many schemes for increasing their personal fortunes. Pope John XXII, (1316
and 1334), excommunicated eighty members of the clergy for not paying their
taxes, including archbishops, bishops and abbots. And for the right amount of
money, you could receive forgiveness for any crime.
“An
early Synod in Rome condemned torture. Pope Nicholas I said torture was a
violation of divine law. In the sixth century, in spite of Gregory ruling that
a person’s testimony during or after torture should be discounted—torture
approved by the pope was the norm for hundreds of years when dealing with those
considered to be heretics. As we know, thousands of Christians considered
heretics were slaughtered during the Crusades. Pope Urban II, in the eleventh
century, declared that heretics were to be tortured, then killed. In the
thirteenth century Innocent III had a reported 12,000 Christian heretics killed
in one day. Soon after, Gregory IX created the Inquisition, proclaiming it was
the responsibility of every good Catholic to find, torture and kill heretics.
“Here’s
something you’ll all be interested in hearing. In the fourteenth century, an
angry Pope John XXII said that if the Franciscans didn’t cease professing that
our Lord and the apostles lived in poverty, they would be burned as heretics. In
1816, Pope Pius VII finally put an end to the practice of torturing heretics.
“We’ve
now witnessed evidence of papal fallibility. In fact, several popes
were
themselves excommunicated for considered acts of heresy. But here’s proof
positive of papal err. The 1546 Council of Trent advocated the writing of a new
edition of Saint Jerome’s original Bible. Forty years later, Sixtus V decided
to personally write the new edition. His version was to supersede all other
Bibles. It was printed and distributed. Within two years, all copies were found
and destroyed. The pope’s rendering of the Bible was error filled, and many
passages were missing. It was re-edited and again made available.”
Nathan
saw Dom’s right eyebrow twitch, his nose wrinkle, and thought it wise to wrap
it up, and not tax his patience any further. “In conclusion—yes Dom, I’m about
to conclude my briefing. Here’s what three popes said, who reigned between the
twelfth and sixteenth centuries, including a saint, regarding fallibility. Innocent
III conceded he could be judged by the Church for any sin, even on the subject
of faith. Innocent IV agreed the pope could err on the subject of faith. And
Adrian VI also admitted a pope can err. St. Augustine once said that when a
pope had made a decision, that was the end of it. Still, he disputed several
pope’s resolutions, and when he failed to change their minds, called on Synods
to resolve the situation.”
Nathan
took a deep breath, made an audible sigh, and ended with a question. “I ask you
all to decide. Was Pope Pius IX correct when in1869 he declared a pope to be
infallible, or do the deeds of the popes we just unearthed speak for
themselves? Please remember, I only disclosed a bit of past pontifical history.
Dom, the floor is all yours.”
 Dom refilled his coffee cup, and while others
followed suit, took the now familiar seat atop the vacant picnic table. He ran
his fingers through the mass of short dark curls, lowered his head in thought,
pausing momentarily, then with a half erect head and upraised eyebrows,
admitted, “I’m not in too good a company, am I? The evil, unacceptable and
unjust actions of some can overshadow the virtues displayed by many righteous
and charitable popes throughout our religious history.
“I
say to all now, that within my own conscience, I cannot agree with Pope Pius’
claim. All the evidence is in favor of fallibility. I agree with Dante when he
said that the papacy’s passion for power incited fracture within Catholicism. The
pope’s claim of infallibility certainly fanned the flames of division. That
issue we must very cautiously address, but need more time to study the possible
consequences of announcing my opinion, pro and con.
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I’m writing
two books now; one is called The Visitor about a vampire whose plan is
to take over the world. It’s a blend of suspense and horror, something I had
never attempted before. The other is Dead by the Book about two
detectives and a book that freaks them out as it keeps writing itself as the
plot unfolds.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I had spent
42-years as a nationally known advertising executive and had written thousands
of newspaper ads and radio and television scripts—so writing came as a second
nature—plus ideas kept popping up in my head.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
 I
write approximately five hours as day and since I’m retired I have the time to
do as I wish. Other than that, I play basketball two times a week in the
winter, and once a week in the summer along with softball once a week. In my
younger days I played baseball and football. Five years ago I began playing
basketball and last February had a personal high of 42-points (thirteen
3-pointers of which six were hook shots and a few shorter baskets).
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
 I
pattern most all of my heroes after me. Even the physical description. Hey, at
my age it’s the most excitement I can have without taking off my clothes. I
stole that last line from a famous advertising agency executive.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
I had no
idea. My mother always accused me of only being interested in playing ball and
girls. One should never doubt a mother’s wisdom.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Yes. Often
authors have asked me how in the world did I get so many bestselling authors to
read, review and provide ‘blurbs’ for my novel covers? The answer is simple: just
ask
. They can only say no. Most, in their past, were struggling authors and
are most willing to help other authors.
Bestselling
author James Rollins recently wrote that he’s been a fan of my work for years.
His advice to me was: continue writing. That’s sage advice for all authors.
Links:
Thanks, WR.!

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