Gene Ferraro’s “Ordinary Evil” – an Interview

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iUniverse introduces Gene Ferraro, who tackles a Boston controversy in his thrilling tale, Ordinary Evil.

ferraroPlease briefly describe your book . . .

Ordinary Evil revolves around the murder of an altar boy. The story is set in Massachusetts and other Catholic locales, including the Vatican. It begins in the 1960s and concludes in 1986, a decade and a half before the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church made headlines. The killing brings into conflict two working class Catholic women, three priests, and a supporting cast of lawyers, cops and bishops when their notions of the law, obedience, forgiveness and revenge clash, ultimately with deadly results.


Do you have any particular literary influences?

My style is more visual and journalistic than literary. I began in documentary film and have spent my career writing and producing programs and events for businesses and organizations. I write as if I were writing scenes for a movie or a cable dramatic series like “Homeland” … lots of characters whose paths intersect then ultimately collide.


From day one I knew how the story would end. I did a lot of research and discovered many actual events that could be fictionalized. To create a plot involving so many levels without losing the reader, I settled on a movie style … short scenes with different characters in different places, juxtaposed and spiraling closer and closer to a climax.


FerraroWhat inspired you to write your book, and how long did it take you to finish it?

I grew up a Catholic. During the 1990s lots of bad things were happening in Boston and New England involving sexually abusive priests. If these were happening in the 90’s, I asked myself what had been happening in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s? That became the story time frame. I considered how, in any religion, good and evil coexist side by side. I thought about the relationship between the faithful at the bottom, women especially, the clerical hierarchy at the top, and institutions like the courts and police in the middle. I hoped to use the thriller genre to give readers some insight into how these forces came into conflict to cause such horrific events.


I worked on the book for a decade. Several times over the years I thought the story had been eclipsed by the headlines so I put the manuscript in a drawer. To my surprise, however, similar events would occur and appear in the local and international news indicating that the issues depicted in the novel were not going away. The story was still timely, and I realized the book would be relevant for years to come. One way or another, I had to publish it.


What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?

The Catholic Church is governed by Canon Law, which is church law. There is a strong, inherent conflict between that and the civil law of any state or country. The church is also a bureaucracy. Any bureaucracy, by nature, is going to be ferociously self-protective and secretive. Scandal must be prevented at all costs, and, in trying to prevent it, a bureaucracy is capable of anything. Watergate, the recent Penn State controversy, and the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church all bear this out.


Are you working on a sequel to your book?

No. The book speaks for itself. I have nothing more to say on the subject.

Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book?

We are using the release of the motion picture “Spotlight” to focus attention on the book. The movie depicts how the Boston Globe, in 2002, revealed the extent of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston Archdiocese, church efforts to cover it up, and the eventual resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, one of the most powerful Catholic bishops,. Ordinary Evil is an excellent prequel to the film. It makes it possible to understand that movie on a much deeper level by portraying the kinds of things that went on years earlier. A visit to our site shows the strong connection between the book and the film. In addition, we’re producing a short video trailer for the website, You Tube, and Facebook to generate interest in the book.


What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with iUniverse?

Self-publishing with iUniverse has been an important learning experience. It’s given me a good understanding of the complexity of publishing, both the writing itself and especially what comes afterwards. Despite my years in media production and communications, I can honestly say I’ve learned a great deal and that experience is critical to achieving success.


Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?

You need to be in it for the long haul. Whenever you think you’re done, believe me, you’re not. You must be prepared mentally for that and not get discouraged. And, above all, don’t quit your day job thinking you’re going to become a writer.

Questions for Gene? Feel free to comment. Make sure to check out the iUniverse site for more advice and blogs, as well as iUniverse Facebook and iUniverse Twitter.



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