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