Tag Archives for " Stalin’s Priests "

Was the recent publication of Stalin’s Priests coincidence or providence?

For the past couple of years the news headlines have been full of stories about Russian meddling, and scandals in the catholic church reaching all the way to Vatican. This might lead readers to believe that our newly published novel Stalin’s Priests was a fairly recent idea. However, the idea for Stalin’s Priests goes back more than a decade. In fact, it didn’t start out as a novel at all. We first began this project as a screenplay thinking the story of a secret Russian KGB plot to infiltrate one of the worlds oldest and largest institutions with hundreds or even thousands of agents to eventually destroy it from within would be a big hit on the silver screen.

The idea first began in earnest on a family pilgrimage we made to Medjugorje in 2006. Twenty five members of the Brandin family set out on a grand adventure (remember The Brady Bunch goes to Europe??) to Rome and then to Medjugorje in Bosnia, Herzegovina, the former Yugoslavia. It was there, on June 25th, 1981 in this tiny rural village in the foothills that Virgin Mary appeared to six teenagers playing on a hill. Much like the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal in 1917 she chose children and gave them messages that God is real, that the world is in trouble, and that we should pray daily. Our family trip was timed for the week of the 25th anniversary of the first apparition there. It was an incredible event as tens of thousands of pilgrims came from all over the world to be there for the celebration and to hear from two of the seerers who were now in their thirties and were still continuing to have weekly apparitions with our Lady.

It was there, that week that the idea for Stalin’s Priests began to form and take shape. Notes were made, lively discussions took place, and research started. However, once the screenplay was completed a year or so later, with the help of a Hollywood screenwriter, we decided it needed more character and story development so we pulled it back and began the transformation into a novel. Well, then life got in the way. Job changes, geographic moves, kids, college etc… made it hard to work and focus on what at first was titled ‘The Judas Cross”. But, with the encouragement of many friends and family we finally completed the novel in 2017, and it was published this past March 2018.

Rita and I find it incredible that we could have finished it and had it published several years ago. But, as fate would have it, Stalin’s Priests has come out at this time. A time when everyday on television, newspapers and the internet the headlines are a buzz with Russian meddling and collusion, and terrible scandals of sex abuse by “priests” in the Catholic Church which threaten its very foundation. We could not have planned it better.

So, we hope you are able to get your copy and read it soon, and then ask yourself, coincidence or providence?

Erik and Rita Brandin

Erik meets Rita, and the Earth shook!

We first met in Santa Monica, California in 1992. I was a long time resident of the bustling beach community just west of Los Angeles and was president of my family printing business when Rita moved to town. She had been transferred from  Atlanta, Georgia by her company that operated shopping malls. She was the new general manager of Santa Monica Place, the city’s regional shopping mall. ( I called her “The Mayor of the Mall”) She immediately joined the local chamber of commerce and the local rotary club. It is here that we met for the first time as I was already a member of both, but, it was strictly business! Rita was a go getter and quickly became known in the community for her sharp mind, energetic style. (I liked her beautiful smile). It wasn’t too long before community leaders were looking to Rita to get involved and the following year she was asked to be the President of our local Chamber of Commerce, where I happened to be on the board.

Then it happened. January 17th, 1994 4:30 am. The Northridge earthquake struck with a magnitude of 6.7. It rocked Los Angeles hard, including our sleepy beach town. We are thankful it happened at 4:30 am instead of 9:30 am as many lives would have been lost. My business was nearly destroyed as walls came tumbling down in the 7 story brick building we occupied on Wilshire blvd. Rita’s mall was hit hard too as glass windows blew out and pipes burst and flooded the mall. Businesses and homes were damaged all around. We all shifted into crisis mode. It took months to stabilize things. I had to relocate my business from its home of 20 years. The community came together with great leadership from Rita and others and eventually life returned to normal in Santa Monica. We both attended many “Grand Re-Openings”, and several community events, but it was one Rotary club dinner party that changed our lives. You see, Rita and I were two of the very few single people in our Rotary club. So this particular night we showed up and we just happened to be seated together at a table of ten. We had a nice dinner with lots of small talk and then the music started. When all the couples at our table got up to dance Rita and I were left alone at the table. So, being the gentleman I am, I awkwardly asked her if she would like to dance. To my great delight she said yes! Well folks, that few minutes on the dance floor was magic. Both our hearts were pounding, and they have been pounding ever since.

We have had so many wonderful adventures together over the past 24 years, and we will be sharing some of those adventures with you here in our blog over the coming weeks and months. One of those adventures was a trip more than 10 years ago to Bosnia-Herzegovina where the inspiration for our book Stalin’s Priests was cemented.

Stay tuned-

Erik Brandin