The Shepherd’s Calculus
by C.S. Farrelly
on Tour February 1 – March 31, 2018
When journalist Peter Merrick is asked to write a eulogy for his mentor, Jesuit priest James Ingram, his biggest concern is doing right by the man. But when his routine research reveals disturbing ties to sexual abuse and clues to a shadowy deal trading justice for power, everything he believed about his friend is called into question. With the US presidential election looming, incumbent Arthur Wyncott is quickly losing ground among religious voters. Meanwhile, Owen Feeney, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is facing nearly a billion dollars in payments to victims of sex abuse. When Feeney hits on a solution to both men’s problems, it seems the stars have aligned. That is until Ally Larkin—Wyncott’s brilliant campaign aide—starts to piece together the shocking details. As the election draws closer and the stakes get higher, each choice becomes a calculation: Your faith, or your church? Your principles, or your candidate? The person you most respect, or the truth that could destroy their legacy?
When the line between right and wrong is blurred, how do you act, and whom do you save?
**Read my review HERE and enter the giveaway**
Published by: Cavan Bridge Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 0998749303 (ISBN13: 9780998749303)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗
Q&A with C.S. Farrelly
Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
The initial action in the plot is usually inspired by current events or actual events that have occurred in the past, but then I try to think of creative plot twists that are more elaborate (and usually more sinister) than the real life inspiration. In the case of The Shepherd’s Calculus, several elements of the plot were inspired by things that have happened in past presidential elections along with current events around foreign intervention into elections, political scandals, investigations into priest abuse cases, etc. In the case of a play I wrote, Relief, the plot was inspired by the disappearance of an American professor off the coast of Ireland in the 1930s. No one knows happened to that professor (a man named Arthur Kingsley Porter). My play is set in the 1950s and opens with the main character’s murder, so you know what happened from the start, but not why. While my characters aren’t typically based on personal experience, I’ll often use personal experiences from my travels or past jobs to help add detail to descriptions.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the storyline brings you?
A bit of a combination of the two. I’ve generally outlined what the main plot progressions are in advance, so I know what needs to happen and how, but the details that string those moments together are a little more open to where the characters take me as I flesh them out more. With The Shepherd’s Calculus, I wrote the first 5 chapters first, then wrote the last chapter and worked back from there because I felt I knew James Ingram and Owen Feeney the most as characters. Because of that, working back from the final moments of their friendship gave me a good roadmap.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I think there are probably traits some of the characters have that are similar to those of people I’ve met. For example, I had a professor in college who was a Jesuit priest and quite a character, so he was a bit of an inspiration for Fr. Ingram, but the full character of Fr. Ingram isn’t based on him. During my time working for different government agencies, I’ve also come across people in leadership positions who abused their power for personal gain so some of those traits in other are based on some of the unethical behavior I’ve witnessed.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I’m usually at my most productive in the morning and late afternoon into the evening. I need to take a break, typically for a walk or mini-hike around lunchtime. And I must have background music playing. The film scores for The Shawshank Redemption, The Cider House Rules and Glory are what I listen to most often while I’m writing.
Tell us why we should read this book.
It’s a unique take on the political scandal trope and does so by exploring degrees of culpability. It’s not the first political thriller to explore a presidential election scandal or the first piece of fiction to look at priest abuse, but I do think it’s the first of its kind to look at these topics through a financial lens and the way the business of politics and religion are just that: businesses. At the end of the day, once any entity grows beyond a certain size, it does (and kind of has to) run itself like a business and that comes with certain moral pitfalls. So I think the novel is unique in that it explores the similarities between religious and political power while also exploring how and why faith is important to individual characters. It’s not a one-sided, angry view. Reviews have pointed out that it’s a compelling plot that doesn’t stomp on politics and religion. It shows the good, bad, and in-between of both.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jodi Picoult’s early work is great. I really admire the way she spins current events into compelling stories with compelling characters. The Alienist by Caleb Carr remains one of the best mystery novels I’ve ever read. I also enjoy a lot of works by Joyce Carol Oates and Margaret Atwood.
What are you reading now?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am. One of the themes in The Shepherd’s Calculus is a sin of omission versus commission, the difference between turning a blind eye to sin taking place or actively committing the sin. It explores the idea that you could share blame for a wrong even if you weren’t the person taking the direct action–that if you knew and didn’t act, you’re almost as much to blame. Along a similar vein, the second novel — a murder mystery set in an economically depressed town where everyone knows everyone else and everything going on — is going to explore the idea of collective responsibility. The second novel opens with the discovery of the body of a local ne’er do well in a small, damaged town and looks at why and how people might look the other way when they know something evil is going on and what their personal stake is in it. It’s a continuation of The Shepherd’s Calculus of sorts, in that Peter Merrick will make a very brief appearance as a someone the main character knows and reaches out to for advice.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Ooh. This is a tough one. I’m Irish Catholic so we’re sort of culturally conditioned to not be presumptuous about success. But, I’ll take a stab:
James Ingram: Jeff Bridges
Owen Feeney: Ed Harris
Peter Ingram: Christian Bale or Sam Rockwell
Ally Larkin: Brie Larson or Saoirse Ronan
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.
C.S. Farrelly was raised in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. A graduate of Fordham University (BA, English), her eclectic career has spanned a Manhattan investment bank, the NYC Department of Education and, most recently, the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar and obtained a master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin, where she was a George J. Mitchell scholar.
She has lived in New York City, Washington, D.C., Ireland, and England. An avid hiker, she camped her way through East Africa, from Victoria Falls to Nairobi. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family.
The Shepherd’s Calculus is her first novel.
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for C.S. Farrelly. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Giftcard. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2018 and runs through April 2, 2018. Void where prohibited.
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