Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why Did I Write Fallen Men?  (Brian O’Hare)

Some time ago a very nice lady asked me to write her story for her.  She told me that until her late thirties she had a complete belief that she had had a wonderful childhood and a most loving mother.  She was very successful in her job (manageress of a large office), Lady Captain of the Golf Club, and very much the life and soul of any gathering she found herself in.

Then out of the blue she was attacked by some very debilitating symptoms - first her shoulder, then her neck and, finally, most of her body… aching pains for which the doctor could make no diagnosis and for which he could prescribe no successful remedies.

This phase of illness was followed by a very severe depression which could not be explained by the physical symptoms alone. She could no longer function normally, had to give up her job and began to lock herself in her house. But counselling, followed eventually by hypnotherapy, revealed that she had for most of her life been blocking out memories of most horrific abuse (sexual and physical) by her mother and that the life-long memories of a wonderful mother-love had been a mental sham.

 I spent a number of hours (over several interviews) talking with her, hearing details that froze my blood, details about what the mother herself did to the child at home, details about how she hired out the four-year-old child to local paedophiles.  The more I heard, the more I did not want to write this book.  It came as a huge relief to me when the lady lost her nerve and asked me to abandon the project.

The lady did find some sort of healing and still receives counselling but she remains very fragile mentally, insecure, and still unable to hold down a job. The book will never be written now, but the awful story continues to remain stuck in my head.

Then came the terrible revelations in Ireland about paedophile priests and the resultant fall-out on perfectly innocent priests, about the clerical ambition and cover-ups that made matters worse… and a story started to form.  I wanted to write about priests who were good, men who were solid,  but men who had flaws that were simply human. I wanted to show that good men can fall and that good men can find redemption I wanted the ‘good-looking young priest’ to have an affair with one of the choir girls…but how to do that and still preserve the character’s essential integrity?  It would only be believable if he had somehow lost control of his will, of his spirituality.

 And then I thought about the lady’s story…..and…

                            ….Father Ray was born and  Fallen Men came to be written.  It’s a rather strange sort of book.  I think the idea that it is religious fiction (it is actually a lot more than that) puts people off but those that actually read it are giving it 5* reviews …even a self-confessed atheist.  Go figure!

Interesting development re Fallen Men. On January 16th, 2013 this book was awarded the IDB  Award.  It's an award that is given to 240 authors each year out of the million plus independent books that are published each year. Not the Booker...but it is a recognition of sorts!

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