A Look Behind the Books, Brittle Diamonds: A Christian Mystery Novel, Catholic, Christian fiction, Church scandal, Contemporary Christian Fiction

Brittle Diamonds: the Book, the Podcast & a Look Behind the Scenes

For the chapter by chapter podcast click HERE

The idea of recording a podcast has intrigued me for some time.

Many authors record their books, and since ‘Brittle Diamonds’ is set in England, with very English characters, and I’m a very English character, I decided to go for it!

The set-up is not sophisticated: I’m uploading each chapter to my website for download by anyone who wishes to listen to it. A new chapter will be added every day.

You can find the podcast here: Brittle Diamonds Podcast

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy revisiting the residents of Brotherton and experiencing the dramatic events that unfold in that usually quiet part of the West Country.

Villagers Dodo and Bob Olding

Two characters in the book, Dodo and Bob, are very dear to me and based on a real couple who used to live down the lane from our house in Gloucestershire. Like us, they owned horses, and the woods running behind our two properties belonged to them.

My husband and I would ride through the forest and up the hill to their house, where the real Dodo and Bob would urge us to put our steeds in their stables while we had a ‘little something to drink’ together.

The real “Dodo” looking elegant as always, while enjoying a little drink

We loved sitting outside in their quintessentially English garden, looking over the fields and watching the geese and chickens wander in and out of the kitchen, chased by a lively Shi Tzu.

Bob and Dodo always poultry wandering about the property

Then my husband and I would get back on our horses and ride home, glowing with bonhomie, before it got too dark to see where we were going.

Bob and Dodo introduced us to the Queen’s cousin and his wife, who lived one door down in a large house with an active ghost. They invited us to cocktails and subsequently to dinner, where my American husband kissed the Princess on the cheek. There was no way I was going to kiss the Prince: he would have been horrified!

Dodo was even more colorful than I have portrayed her in the book. She used to make the most outrageous comments. She and Bob could never agree on the details of any story, and you’d better have eaten before you went to their house, as she usually burnt the food.

But she was a generous and loving soul, and when she passed away from a heart attack, sitting in her chair in the garden, Bob was grief-stricken. He held it together for four years before taking his own life on the anniversary of her death.

As a Catholic, I had no peace because he’d committed suicide, a mortal sin. I worried about Bob’s soul and confided in my parish priest. He told me that God would have understood the condition of my friend’s mind and for me not to be anxious, but to pray for him. This I still do.

I miss them both. Bob got to read Brittle Diamonds before he died, and thoroughly enjoyed my portrayal of him and Dodo. I am so very glad of it.

Painswick Church, a few miles from where I used to live in Lypiatt. The grounds contain 99 yew trees. Whenever they try to plant the 100th, it dies for some mysterious reason.

Why I Wrote the Book

After more than twenty years away from the Catholic Church, I finally returned to the fold.

There are many reasons why, but the catalyst was the birth of my son, although it still took me several years after that to commit fully to my faith.

When our little family moved to the States from England, I was thrilled to discover that Catholics weren’t in the minority as they are in the United Kingdom. I suddenly belonged to a huge community!

My local parish priest was a very charismatic man, whose sermons were both entertaining and educational. We all loved him.

Then came that fatal day when he told us he was under investigation for sexual abuse of seminarians, allegedly perpetrated some thirty years before.

We were all horrified that anyone could make such an accusation against our wonderful pastor, and were confident he would be swiftly exonerated and back in the pulpit.

Sadly, this was not to be the case.

My sorrow at discovering my Catholic leader was not above reproach led me to write this book.

The novel handles several other difficult issues in addition to the priest scandal, which was raging then and sadly still is. It will be a long time before the Catholic Church recovers, but recover she will.

The sermon in Chapter 17 is poached from a real sermon preached at the time of our priest’s disgrace.

I ask you to have patience with my attempts at various British accents and do hope you enjoy this audio version of the book! 🙂

Ebook available for $0.99 at: Amazon B&N Kobo iBooks

Paperback available for $9.50 at Amazon B&N

Catholic, Church scandal, Uncategorized

Brittle Diamonds: A Book Born Out of Scandal

When I first moved to the States from England in 2001,  I was also in the process of returning to the Church after many years of anti-Catholicism.

The transition from Europe to the United States was a tough one, but that isn’t why I came back to my faith. It was actually from reading a book my mother-in-law gave me by Charles Stanley, about whether one could be certain of eternal salvation.

I like to joke about how a book given to me by a Baptist lady brought me back to Catholicism! But that’s a topic for another day.

The point is, here I was, finally reconciling with the faith of my youth. I was only taking baby steps, but at least making the effort to go to Mass every Sunday.

The Awesome Priest

We had a wonderful, huge church called St. Michael. I could be anonymous among the thousand or so parishioners, and no one talked to me or made any demands on me. I could come and go unnoticed. It was perfect.

Father John, the parish priest, was phenomenal with a wonderful sense of humor. His sermons were interesting and thought provoking, and I looked forward to hearing what he had to say every week.

I’d been listening to him for about three years when he suddenly said something that neither I nor any of the other parishioners wanted to hear.

Allegations of sexual abuse had been made against him and he was being suspended from his position. 

Many victims were now coming forward after years of allowing themselves to be paid off in return for their silence. What a terrible time to return to the Church! I’d just got back into the routine of being Catholic again, and now this!

Of course none of us wanted to believe that our beloved pastor had done any of the awful things he was being accused of.

I wanted Father John to be innocent, regardless of what people might say.

Painswick Church near my old Gloucestershire home in England

The Truth

I carefully listened to his repeated defense, that he had been a blameless priest for the past thirty years.

But, I noted, the allegations against him dated prior to thirty years ago. Could it be that he was guilty yet trying to make it sound as if he weren’t?

Shaken to the core, I needed an outlet for my frustration.

The Book

I began outlining the rough draft for a novel which tackled the sore topic of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and Brittle Diamonds was born.

While I was writing the book, Father John was found guilty of the charges against him and defrocked. It was a horrible shock but it made me even more determined to finish my book.

I set the novel in a fictional Cotswold village near where I used to live, in the west of the England. Doing so took me back home and away from the sad realities around me.

For we had got a new priest, whom we liked very much. But just as we were getting used to him, he made the unexpected announcement: “I am an alcoholic and am going into rehab.”

Boom! That was it. He was gone.

Were there no good priests left? It is an issue that I also bring up in the book.

If you haven’t read it yet, Brittle Diamonds is permanently free. Here are the links: Amazon US  Amazon UK  Nook iTunes Kobo

Some reviews of Brittle Diamonds

Brittle Diamonds Dog

“This is a well-written story. The characters are well-defined and believable. The details about the church and the priesthood were also well-written.”

“Great read. I was ‘hooked’ by page 3. Very interesting and complex character portrayals. Suspenseful until the very end. I could not have predicted the outcome. I was torn between wanting to finish the book so I could find out the ending, yet I didn’t want the literary experience to end. Days after completing the novel, I was still thinking about the characters and actually hoping for a sequel.”

“Told very well.”

P.S. And if you haven’t subscribed to my readers’ list yet, here’s your opportunity!