Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Michael Medico, author of The Sainted Trilogy, the supernatural suspense thriller and love story.
Hi Michael, Great to have you with us today! Please share the anatomy of the storyline—how did it come to you—as a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end—or did the story and character evolve, but the core of the story was the motivation—good versus evil?
I enjoy reading very much. I read fiction mostly, and the genre I prefer is suspense and thrillers that have an element of ‘love story’ as part of the storyline. If you consider so much of what popular fiction in those genres are, you will find the eternal struggle between ‘good and evil’ inevitably is part of the central theme. When I considered becoming an author, I attempted to write the novels as a story I would enjoy reading myself. I wanted a likable hero or heroine, a despicable villain, suspense with a sharp edge, and a beautiful relationship.
Let’s discuss “Faith” as it served as a strong inspiration in the writing of The Sainted Trilogy. Do you believe that is instrumental in managing today’s challenges and making sense of today’s chaos?
Without faith, there is only skepticism; a deep-seeded distrust of anything that does not conform to our predetermined thoughts and emotions. I think that distrust of institutions, doubts of long-held beliefs and traditions, as well as preconceived notions about people we know or don’t know. These appear to me as contributing factors that give rise to suspicion, disbelief, and cynicism. Perhaps, a look back at the saints and their lives and abiding faith might inspire a change in attitudes, but that is a very personal decision each of us needs to make.
Catholicism plays a central figure in your story from good versus evil, but you positioned your lead character as a normal law-abiding citizen with religious values but surely not a “holy man” selected by the Sainted—was this intentional to have a so-called normal character confronted with today’s chaotic challenges?
Yes, the premise of having the protagonist as a ‘Mr. Everyman’ was intentional. I wanted the reader to be able to put themselves in his place and become empathetic with all the aspects of his life, loves, and confrontations with evil. That was one of the reasons that the main character, Chris, was written in the first person and all others written in the third person so the reader can place himself or herself in the role.
People have left the church, but ironically many remain spiritual. Your character, a millennial, remains a devout practicing Catholic-–was this important for you in the storyline?
It was important to me. I was born into a household where a number of my family were practicing Catholics. I went to Catholic parochial and high-school and grew up learning the precepts of the Catholic faith and traditions. Over time, I lapsed in my faith, and it was not until recently that I wanted to return to the religious legacy and traditions of Catholicism. That is part of the reason I wrote The Sainted Trilogy.
Chris Pella is unapologetic about his faith because his upbringing taught him to be. I think he is far braver than I am, and I think, in order to battle the evil Chris has to confront, he needs to completely rely on his faith. The Sainted Trilogy is not a religious tome, but the saints will give readers a reason to pause and contemplate. The three books of The Sainted Trilogy were written to entertain readers and not preach to them about what to believe…they can decide that for themselves.
The saints surely play a prominent role in your story, was the intent to question oneself—”what would I do if confronted by the Sainted to carry out a mission?”
That is the main reason the only character that I wrote in the first person is Chris Pella was that I wanted the reader to put themselves in his place. I wanted the reader to try and understand what he was being told, what he was asked to do, and how he would deal with the enormous responsibility of carrying out his purpose in life under the Heavenly banner of God, Christ, and The Sainted.
Do you think that the saints are some kinds of super-heroes?
I don’t believe the saints are super-heroes, well maybe St. Michael the Archangel.
The Sainted are extraordinary and exceptional people who, I believe, have been touched by God. These are men and women who have done so much for their faith; they teach, they inspire, and they perform miracles, and this is what they have done for, and witnessed by, the main character, Chris Pella.
You’ve given “conversational” personalities to your saints, crafted around a bit of their history. This gives us a unique image of “saints” whom, if raised in the church, you would formally pray to them…not have conversations with them. Did you find giving voice, personality, and character to these saints challenging?
I was able to do a lot of research online regarding the Saints and their lives and miracles. When you read about their faith and what guided their lives, you also realize many of them were just like you and I. They had families or lived alone. They had jobs and got sick or angry or depressed or happy because the saints were human. They had many of the same problems that we, as mortals, experience all the time…jealousy, pain, sadness, joy, tragedy, and so much more. Some were kings or queens, some were sinners, many were martyrs, some were paupers, some were fabulously wealthy, or some just tried to scrape by, but all were bound to their faith and lived with that blessing and confidence.
Equally noticeable is the graphic detail of the Saints who have experienced horrific acts as martyrs—we see this through your lead character—you have created scenes and dialog that bring sainthood to the forefront—was this a difficult decision in your story planning?
The is an interesting question in that when I read about the Saints, I was convinced that, aside from their holiness, they were like you and I, flaws and all. By taking what I learned about their lives and miracles, I was able to imagine the situations and locations they were in. From there, the next step was to surmise how they would react, given the faith that guides them. The people who persecuted the Sainted were also a product of their times. The ‘all-powerful Emperor’ who condemned many Christians to death acted in a way that you would expect a despotic, murdering tyrant to act…to preserve power and maintain control at all costs.
Your character had to lie about information being received from the Saints—in a world of conspiracy theories, was this a challenge for you in writing the story?
I don’t believe he had lied. I think he withheld the truth of his situation for other reasons; that is, to protect himself from those who would assume he was crazy. Who would believe that he could speak to the saints…except for his Uncle Al? Even his uncle, however, needed to have Chris prove his special power to him in a way that would be unimpeachable.
Before we talk about the Julian character, the modern-day Satan, according to a recent survey, 10 years ago the majority of Americans did not believe that Satan exists. In 2020 it has flipped to the majority of the nation believing that Satan is real and alive in our daily lives. Your response?
In my opinion, the only explanation to the increasing belief that there is a Satan, is due to the fact that so much of what seemed impossible is really happening. Lives have become worthless, and people are murdered with no reason at all, and many cannot comprehend why. Throats are slashed by terrorists, old people are cheated out of their savings, child molestation is getting more and more common, substance abuse is rampant, long-held facts and traditions are set aside for new forms of orthodoxy such as socialism, secularism, communism. Mass-murder has been and continues to be common under totalitarian regimes around the world, and the silence is deafening. I believe that most people look around in complete and utter bewilderment, and they are now ascribing these horrors to men and women who are unwitting acolytes of Satan.
Satan plays a key role in the novels, Julian—was this a difficult character to create and maintain his presence in Chris’ life?
I received a review for the first novel in The Sainted Trilogy where the reviewer wrote;
“One character, though, Medico must be applauded for, and that is Satan. He gave Satan the perfect personality: just the right amount of attitude and sass…Satan is perhaps one of, if not THE, hardest character to write in any genre, and Medico nailed it on his first try.”
It was also important to me that Satan be a character that would be engaging, funny as well as totally evil and ruthless. Throughout the books of The Sainted Trilogy, Satan lures his victims to the point of total corruption. It is at this point that these people believe they cannot be redeemed. All the while, Satan would be laughing and joking as he drags these souls to his hellish domain to suffer eternal damnation.
There are very disturbing segments of the novels that are in stark contrast to the other situations that the characters find themselves in. Why did you feel the need to get so graphic in your depictions?
That’s a very interesting question. My wife, who proofreads much of what I write, came to me after reading the first book of The Sainted Trilogy, “Evil Awaits” and said, “What kind of man did I marry?”.
After I laughed, I gave her comment some thought. I believe that to illustrate the dichotomy between the consummate good, as represented by the saints, and ultimate evil as represented by Satan, you need to show the contrast in extremes, and that is why I chose to write certain chapters illustrating such horrors in graphic detail.
In the past few years, lies seem to be an accepted practice. Your books seem to present the hypothetical; if you could restore honesty, integrity, etc., back by challenging “evil”, would you do it?
The idea that lying is an accepted practice in so many of the institutions in our social order, is very disturbing. It appears that as a society, many people have given up on the long-held values of integrity and honesty in favor of expediency, greed, exploitation, fraud, and other corrupt practices. I believe that in order to return our principled instincts, we must all take pride in the need to reject evil, and I realize that at times it is very hard to do. I wrote a line in “Evil Awaits” that can sum up what people need to confront in their decisions regarding lying and honesty. Satan said to Chris Pella, “…the freedom of evil is easier to accept than the constraints of good.”
The love story plays a central theme. Is this our saving grace from a divided country filled with hate?
I don’t believe that the love between Chris and Beth is of the variety that will cause the planets to align, and love will reign over all. Theirs is the kind of love that we all experience when we meet someone who we think is perfect for us. Like all relationships, Chris and Beth have their ups and downs, unspoken passions, mistakes, jealousies, and other emotional reactions as part of just life and being in love. There are also temptations that will cause them to veer away from what is truly important and become immersed in the pleasures and excesses of the world.
Thank you so much, Michael, for giving us your precious time. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.