AUTHOR: Declan Finn
BOOK TITLE: A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller
Please tell us about yourself? I’m an overeducated reject from academia, with degrees in history and philosophy from St. John’s University (Jamaica, NY), and half a PhD in history from Fordham University, as well as a level one student of Krav Maga (level 1 of 5).
Tell us your latest news? Well, A Pius Man has recently been published, and A Pius Legacy, the sequel, should be up and running – hopefully – by winter, I hope. I may end up doing a hardcover for A Pius Man by August.
When and why did you begin writing? I started writing at 16, when I saw a show called Babylon 5. I started doing fan fiction, just for myself, not for publication online, and then it spiraled so out of control I ended up writing other books that had no relation, or even similarity to the show. Then I never stopped.
As far as writing this book -- I started writing it in 2004, after I had written a graduate paper on the topic of Pope Pius XII, aka "Hitler's Pope." Then I went into full history nerd rage and pumped out a 200,000 word novel in 4 months. Then I had to backpedal and edit.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? When there were nights I couldn’t sleep because my brain burned with ideas, and I carried a little black notebook so I could write ideas as they struck me on the road, in college courses, on the bus. The notebook came after learning that scribbling ideas on random business cards wasn’t a really good idea. And I realized that other “real” writers had a similar issue.
What inspired you to write your first book? The first book I wrote was inspired by the tv show Babylon 5, and the writer blogs posted by J. Michael Straczynski – primary writer, creator, and executive producer of the show.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I stuff in a lot of history, philosophy, and even theology … though I hope it’s balanced out by the shootouts, the fight scenes, and a car chase down the Spanish Steps. There’s no real message, though I do hope they might learn a few things.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? (Has anyone ever realized it?) The only thing from my own life in A Pius Man was a character named Manana Shushurin. In APM, a spy from Mossad, Scott Murphy, was a small, pale little man and blended into the environment. I wanted to mess with him, and give him a counterpart who would have a completely different style from him, so I wanted an outstanding, beautiful woman. Physically, she was based off of a classmate in my philosophy classes. Why? Because I wanted someone who was truly stunning, but real. And yes, she is aware.
What books have most influenced your life most? Les Miserables. It was a truly impressive work of fiction if only because it was that large, but still that engaging. It stands out in my mind mainly because it was a book that was simply about a good man.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Mostly J. Michael Straczynski, because he was the first author I ever read on the subject of writing.
What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it? I just started reading The Black Knight Chronicles. It’s fun so far, though I’m only on page 6.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? I don’t usually do new authors, mainly because I’m typically so busy trying to keep up with my old authors that by the time I get to a “new” author, they’ve come out with three books. Keith Thompson, who wrote Once A Spy, is the only “new” author I’ve run into, and he’s quite impressive. The only other author I’ve notice is Roger Hobbs, who wrote Ghost Man, and I haven’t read him yet.
What are your current projects? I’m currently editing A Pius Legacy, the next book in the series, and hopefully out by winter. I’d rather shoot for October, but I’ll take what I can get. And, thankfully, I won’t have the same issues with the cover.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Nope. Not one blessed thing….. if you’ll pardon the expression.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Mostly, no. Many of my characters tend to be fully formed people. I know their friends, their family, their grandparents, what their grandparents do for a living, and by the time I’m done with creating the characters, I don’t have to do a lot of work. All I really have to do is report what everyone else does. For this book, A Pius Man, the hard part was fitting in the history and making it readable, and interesting.
Do you ever have problems with writers block? If so how do you get through it? Writer’s block is not a problem in the traditional sense. I have no problem writing, and I have no problem with the ideas, the concepts, even the execution … the problem is finding time. I’ve spent weeks developing a cover, creating one, seeking out one, developing a marketing plan, playing with margins on the proofs, proofing copies for corrections, snipping, clipping and pushing just to keep one line from spilling over on the next page. However, I’ve written not a single word in months. I guess you could call it writer’s block.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? In my world, that’s called “sleep.” I can’t play a video game without thinking “that would look great in an action sequence.” I can’t watch TV or read a book without rewriting events the way I would like it.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? James Rollins. The man can write an engaging, fast-moving thriller with characters the reader cares about, while incorporating ancient history and cutting edge technology.
What was the hardest part of writing your book? Breaking it up. Originally, A Pius Man was one, eight-hundred-page novel. It started as a simple murder mystery that spun out into a conspiracy – simple, right? That’s about half the thrillers out there nowadays, from Jeffery Deaver to comic book movies like Watchmen. In the case of A Pius Man, it spiraled from there into a massive novel. Then going back to the beginning, and hacking it into pieces, that was the hard part.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? I started A Pius Man after I did a research paper on Pope Pius XII. There were volumes of facts that I’ve never heard before, and dozens of stories that most people have never bothered recounting to a general audience. The tales I came across while studying Pope Pius XII could have been made into a massive, sprawling tv series that could make Game of Thrones look like a short story.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Yes. First: write the damn book. If you “have a great idea for a book,” then sit down at your writing medium of choice, and start plugging away. Second: Read books if only to recharge your brain.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Of course. Buy A Pius Man. Please. I honestly think you’ll like it. It has romance, action, and even some slight educational value.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them? Createspace, a self-publishing affiliate of Amazon.com. I found them while I was researching POD companies.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.
The Worlds of Declan Finn: Declanfinn.webs.com
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Declan-Finn/e/B008I8JO2G/
As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope's latest project is to make Pius XII, "Hitler's Pope," a saint. Things haven't gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan. Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep. Soon, a pattern emerges-- people who go into the Pius XII historical archives are dying. Each time, a priest has been in the background-- a priest close to the Pope. One of the victims was an al-Qaeda operative, drawing Scott "Mossad" Murphy of Israeli intelligence to Rome. Now, Ryan, Murphy and Figlia must join forces to unravel the mystery around the Vatican, as even the man Giovanni is supposed to protect looks like a suspect. To get out of this alive, they must discover if Hitler's Pope was a Nazi collaborator, or a pious man.