Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Friday, April 15, 2011

TAKE TEN: Bestselling author Father Andrew M. Greeley

TAKE TEN with International Bestselling author Father Andrew M. Greeley  (Aug. 2008)

When it comes to discussing international bestselling authors today, it is impossible not to include Father Andrew M. Greeley. He has produced over 50 bestselling novels over the past few decades, and I have had the pleasure to read and enjoy 15 of them myself. His tales of the lives of those who devote themselves to the service of the church have sparked dialogue and controversy almost from the beginning of his career. But there has been a positive side to his career and success as well. When talking about Greeley, Reverend Ron Rolheiser said this: "Nobody has ever left the church because of an Andrew Greeley novel, but many have been attracted back to it by him." Why is that, you might ask. Read this exclusive interview to find out.--- Cyrus A. Webb, Conversations Magazine

Father Greeley, we appreciate your taking out the time to talk with TAKE TEN today. Having enjoyed numerous bestselling novels and praise from around the world for the stories you create, do you see your writing career as an extension of your ministry?
Not so much an extension as an essential part of my ministry.

When did you know that you were such a gifted storyteller? Did you come from a family of readers?
I don't know that I'm a gifted story teller. I must leave that to others like yourself to judge. Both my parents read and both like to tell stories.

I have been curious for sometime about was there any one individual along your literary journey that inspired you to write and then seek to be published. Can you share with us what led to your submitting your first written work?
The late Bernard Geiss, a "packager" of novels, urged me to write a story about two young men who grew up to be priests. The Cardinal Sins emerged from that suggestion.

I became a fan of yours some 10 years ago, and I can say that one of the things that I loved about your work was how you allowed us to see the human side of people carrying out God's work on earth. Do you think we sometimes forget that the people carrying his message are prone to the same mistakes as the rest of us?
Many people expect perfection from their clergy and are shocked and dismayed when they see not perfection, but humanity. Sometimes the clergy abet this by pretending to be perfect.

Your work doesn't seem to try and protect anyone from scrutiny as we saw in THE CARDINAL SINS and PRIESTLY SINS. How much do you think the scandals of the Catholic church were worsen by the denial of any wrongdoing?
They were certainly made worse by constant denial. Why should anyone believe a bishop any more.

I know from talking to other fans of yours that regardless what their faith, you books strike a chord with all types of readers. What do you contribute that to?
I don't know how to answer that question. Apparently I write stories that many different kinds of people like to read. On the other hand I get lots of hate mail.

In a world where marketing is everything and the literary community is having to compete in a sense between itself, has there been the pressure to change the formula that has enthralled your readers for so long?
Only once when someone suggested that I set the novels somewhere besides Chicago, like maybe Denver. With all due respect to Denver, I declined. Chicago is a character in the stories. I've had a few helpful suggestions from editors and publishers, but they did not involve a change in style.

The Harry Potter series of books by J. K. Rawling seemed to captivate readers of all ages. What are your thoughts about the impact the Harry Potter franchise has had in encouraging young people to give reading a try?
A lot of young people gobbled up the stories about Master Potter. Whether they will read more because of those books, I'm not sure. Better that they get lots of good example from their parents.

Father Greeley, alot of authors that we speak to have an experience that has encouraged them to keep going when it comes to their careers. What does it for you?
I never once thought about abandoning the telling of stories. I am always encouraged by people like you who understand what the stories are about -- comedies of grace.

Thank you again for sharing a few moments with Conversations. We appreciate your time. You're welcome, Cyrus. Thank you for the work you are doing to educate and encourage reading.

Additional information about Father Andrew M. Greeley can be found at

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