Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Brothers’ Keepers by Matthew Peters - Book Tour and Giveaway



About the Book

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.


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Excerpt

Father Rawlings drained his cup and set it on the table. “What I’m about to tell you may sound ridiculous and melodramatic. At best it will seem the stuff of conspiracy theories and spy novels. However, I assure you it is not.” He fixed Branson with a steely gaze. “As God’s soldiers, we are engaged in a battle, Nicholas. As real as any battle ever waged. The war we fight has raged for centuries, but the battle we fight now could well be the last. And we, you and I, the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, must emerge victorious. Nothing less than the foundations, the stability of the Christian world is at stake.” He smiled again, this time with bitterness. 

“Of course it sounds unbelievable, even paranoid, but believe me, it is neither. I choose my words carefully. I don’t make bold assertions I cannot support. I assure you I am telling you exactly how things stand, exactly what is at stake. Before I go on, however, I must demand a pledge from you, your promise to help the Church in the epic struggle in which we currently find ourselves. We require your guarantee, your warrant if you will, that you will use all your energies, resources, and powers to secure the interests of the Church, and that you will let nothing deter you from the task at hand. With this binding agreement comes an inexhaustible supply of resources: anything and everything you deem necessary to accomplish your mission. But I must have your pledge before we proceed.” Rawlings rose from his seat, motioning for Branson to stand as well. “Before you give me your answer, listen again to Jesus’ words: ‘He who is not with me is against me.’ Nicholas Branson, tell me now: Are you with our Lord, or against Him?”

Interview

Tell us about your book, what inspired it?

THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS is a religious thriller, one that has been favorably compared to Dan Brown’s THE DA VINCI CODE. Here is a blurb:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries. 

I was inspired to write THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS for two main reasons. First, it allowed me to capitalize on my love of history, politics, and research. Second, it gave me a chance to examine some of the issues I struggle with on a daily basis: faith, the role of religion in politics, and the role of truth in society. 
I’ve always felt that the best novels are those with immediate relevancy to current political and social issues. THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS is my contribution to the debates that rage in society concerning politics and religion—the two topics people say to avoid in polite company.

What can you tell us about the character of Nicholas Branson?

Nicholas Branson is the male protagonist in THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS. He is a Jesuit, who has not yet taken his priestly vows. He is someone who leads with his intellect. Emotions are secondary. He has a hard time confronting his feelings, especially with regard to faith and interpersonal relationships. He is a recovering alcoholic. Consequently, his emotional maturation did not keep pace with his intellectual development. In some ways he is very developed, but deep down inside he is a hurt little boy who seeks confirmation and love.

Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?

Yes. Nicholas Branson is based partly on me. Though he is smarter and more accomplished—I mean, he speaks like ten languages--we share the disease of alcoholism. I would say I have some of Branson’s tendencies to approach things on an intellectual basis, and I’m not always comfortable with expressing my feelings, though I’m trying to improve. 

The protagonist in my other book, CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS, is dual diagnosed, like myself. The term dual diagnosed generally describes a person who has a mood disorder (e.g., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), and some form of chemical dependency (e.g., alcoholism, and/or addiction to cocaine, heroin or prescription medication). I have Major Depressive Disorder and alcoholism. Part of my work consists of raising awareness of dual diagnosis, a condition that affects 6% of the American population.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Oh, wow. That’s a very hard question. I think as a writer, you become attached to several scenes as you construct them and then reflect back on them. I’d have to say, though, and I really can’t give anything away here, that my favorite scene is the big reveal that happens at the end of the book. I hope it has as much dramatic impact as it can. Readers have told me that it does, and I trust them, so I’ll leave it at that. 

Why love for history and research?

Well, I’m trained as a Political Scientist, and I was more qualitatively than quantitatively oriented, preferring history to number-crunching. I’ve always loved research. When I was actively teaching in my field my research interests were dictated by my profession. Since I’ve been writing fiction, I can pretty much choose what to read and research. I am much happier in this capacity.

Can you tell about the condition of dual diagnosis?

I am happy to. Thank you for asking.

As I said earlier, the term dual diagnosed generally describes a person who has a mood disorder, and some form of chemical dependency. 
Approximately 6 out of 100 Americans have a dual diagnosis. 
It is estimated that 29% of those who suffer emotional/mental disorders have abused substances and that 53% of substance abusers have had a psychiatric problem. 
Having a dual diagnosis differs, in terms of recovery, in that it is not just about refraining from alcohol, or taking anti-depressants. It is a synergistic condition where one illness exacerbates the other.
Famous individuals among the dual diagnosed include Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, and Robin Williams. I, myself, am dual diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and alcoholism. My mom was, too. As I mentioned previously, my other novel, CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS, features a protagonist who is dual diagnosed. 
I think it is important that we talk about this issue, especially since there is such a stigma attached to each component of the diagnosis. There is nothing to be ashamed of in having a mental illness and/or a chemical dependency. Dual diagnosis is a treatable condition. The more we talk about it, the easier it is to break the stereotypes and procure effective treatment. For more information, please see my website: www.matthewpetersbooks.com. 

What profession would you choose if you were not an author?

If I were not an author, I would choose to be a creative writing teacher.

Any last words?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. And thank you, in particular, for asking about dual diagnosis. I love to hear from readers, so please feel free to get in touch with me. My contact information is on my website, listed above. Also, if you have the time, please write a review of THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS and/or CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS. There are few things that make an author happier than reading a review of his/her book. It shows us that someone actually took the time to share what our work means to them.

Thanks...

About the Author

Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. In addition to The Brothers’ Keepers, he is the author of Conversations Among Ruins, which features a dual diagnosed protagonist. Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

Author Links:
   

Giveaway
Matthew Peters will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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