Today, Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Patricia Bond author of Imbalance of Power: Exploitation of Women by Catholic Priests.
Good day Patricia and thanks for participating in our interview.
What purpose do you believe Imbalance of Power: Exploitation of Women by Catholic Priests serves and what matters to you about the story?
What matters the most in my memoir involves my son’s biological father and the story of responsibility. According to the organization of Good Tidings there are over 2,000 children born to Catholic Priest in the U.S. alone, my son was just one of them. Who a child’s parents are should not be the issue, but what the parents do to respect, acknowledge and provide for their children is. What this book called for was for two adults to act as parents of Nathan and not force the legal system to decide what was best for a dying child.
There is and always has been a moral obligation to children by both parents. Robert V. Taylor said it best in his article (Rejoicing in death of a child ) when he asked, “Is it possible that the legacy of Nathan’s all too short life will be a gift of shining new light on responsibility. That was Nathan’s greatest wish, to be treated as a normal child and loved child and not as a tossed away burden.
It is also my hope that Imbalance of Power supports the continued need for the Catholic Hierarchy as well as other religions leaders to face the truth not only of exploitation of women, but also other abuse of power issues; and deal with it.
I hope my book also shows the need to self-examine our own truths that will lead to a healthier life of all involved.
Whom do you believe will benefit from your book and why?
The answer to your question is broad as my book appeals to a diverse audience. The title is a bit misguiding as it seems to imply it is a book solely based on the Catholic Church as it relates to the exploitation of women.
However in my book my life’s journey shows several areas of abuse of power. My childhood is an example of how damaged girls become vulnerable women that fall prey to predator Priests. Often we find many women who are at the threshold of a entering into a forbidden love affair because of the misguided trust they placed in a man of God.
There is even more to the “Why” of the book. The why can be to educate an audience that deals with important issues in life that unfortunately others have suffered or may be suffering from now: These issues can be victims of sexual abuse occurring within the family structure. How to know; see it or stop it would be a gift if just one person saw themselves in my writing.
Then we move to a new arena of imbalance of power; the legal system. We can find areas where people find themselves exposed to a legal system that is supposed to be structured to do no harm to the people it serves. But what happens when their legal team fails them?
The final audience for my book would involve the star of the book, the hero of my life, Nathan, my son. The audience for this critical area would be the parents that are facing or have faced dealing with a child who has cancer (or a terminal illness) and then how to deal with the fact that God is about to call your child home. How does a parent survive and how do the siblings of their youngest brother stay strong when they too are facing such a loss in their own lives.
What are your hopes for this book?
To teach. There are so many lessons in life that it is impossible to know how to handle situations that you would never think you would find yourself a part of. When you do find yourself facing the unexpected how so you handle it, how do you survive from it, and then how to learn from it.
How did you decide you were ready to write the book? As a follow up, what was the most difficult part of writing your book?
The amazing part regarding this question was I never intended to write a book. Nathan was in New York after his second craniotomy. I was alone with no one to talk to as Nathan was in ICU and I had to stay in an apartment in NY. I started to write a journal in order to keep my sanity. I wanted to remember each event not thinking Nathan was ever going to die but I was afraid that I would forget even just a small part of what my son was going through.
When we returned from NY to St. Louis I kept writing. Nathan who loved writing himself and I think was a better writer then me encouraged my journal. It seemed we both knew it would have a purpose but neither of us talked about what it might be. The most difficult part by far was that I was writing as the events unfolded. Everything that Nathan did I wrote it down towards the end I realized what this was all about – there would be a book and it would be to serve three purposes; uphold my son’s memory, give Nathan a chance to speak to others like him: and to give me a reason to live. The last part was Nathan’s mission as he made me promise – He would say to me when I wanted to stop; “Mom finish the book!”
How did you stayed focused when you wrote the book?
It was my only outlet. I would literally attend to my son’s open wounds, 30 medicines a day or caring for his port or tri-catheter. Then I would get him out of pain and wait till he was resting and then head to my computer. When I wrote, even though I was living the moments such as how the church’s hierarchy was denying my son’s basic medical needs, fighting insurance issues, dealing with a story that needed to be told and facing my own denial that
Nathan was not going to make it; my book became my best friend. It allowed me to journal so that someday if my mind wants to forget I will pick the book up and remind myself of the good and the bad and the fact that I once again survived.
Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you self-publish?
The first approach was actually not by me but I was called at home by a book agent in New York. After the article came out in the New York Times: A Mother, a Sick Son and His Father, the Priest - NYTimes.com by Laurie Goodstein.
An agent called me even though my phone was unlisted. At the time there was no book only the story that quickly traveled the world. She wasn’t looking for anything other than to say she wanted to speak to the women in the story. Months later after Nathan requested me to do a book, she and I then spoke of representation.
It was clear at the time that I had no idea what I was doing in any regards to writing a book and the idea was going to be on a collision course. The relationship ended respectfully as I gave up on believing in my own ability.
I later sent a query was to a large agency in New York and was accepted quickly. Again it was premature as the book was far from completion. As it was originally written the book suffered rejections, I would have been one of them had I known then what I have learned now.
Finally after a massive overhaul of Imbalance of Power which included the magnificent book cover and a new title and structure to the book, (basically a complete rewrite) I decided to self-publish.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your book?
The amount of people that compare my memoir to the 1977 mini-series Thornbirds written by Colleen McCullough an Australian author. Of course Thornbirds was a fictional book and to some respect unfortunately mine wasn’t. It also surprised me the amount of people that want to see my book produced as a documentary or film.
On a personal level this was about my life, our life as a family and how very precious life is. I learned how important it is to understand our weaknesses and embrace our strength’s and to believe in your-self but most of all never stop telling the ones you love how important they are.
The other major lesson I learned is the importance of not only learning how to forgive others but equally important was learning how forgive my-self. I had a role in my own destiny and now I understand that the choices I make today will without a doubt effect my tomorrow.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
The most surprising thing is the responses I get from the men who have read the book. One wonderful man wrote when Nathan was still with us and asked if he could take my son to a ball game (after reading the story in the NY Times). He knew that was my son’s favorite thing to do.
Then there were several men who called me regarding the tears they shed after reading the book. For me to hear grown men being brought to tears shows the love and courage my son shared in his brave struggle in life both with the church, his biological father and then his life.
The messages I get over the writing of the book moves me greatly as I have questioned my ability to tell the story that I have hidden from my own family for years. I needed to share who I was to the many people who were quick to judge – they didn’t have a clue as to what my life was like. The people I hear from find it emotional and a book that shows courage of so many people especially my son but also his siblings who were a major part of his life and the cornerstone of mine.
Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)
I have a second book I hope to write; which would be easy as the major part of the book is completed. The title of the book is: My Life as a Writer – by Nathan Halbach 1986-2009
(Narrated by Patricia Bond).
I have writings from my son that go back to his early years until his college years. Nathan was an old soul who had great depth to him. His writings are insightful, inspirational, and show his amazing ability to analyze many books and stories he had read. I would love to share this book with his peer group to hopefully inspire them on a multitude of subjects highlighting of course the importance of what they do and how they interact with each other while time is such a question in life.
I also write short stories which I hope to publish.
How can readers find out more about you and your endeavors?
They can follow several areas of social media including:
I am always grateful for the communication I get and extend a thank you to all who take the time.
As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
I would have liked to been asked this question, one I often ask myself. How has my life’s challenges and sometimes tragic events; (especially referring to the loss of my child) influenced my spirituality or has my life’s journey diminished any spiritual beliefs I had?
This is such an important question because of the timing of writing Imbalance of Power: Exploitation of Women by Catholic Priests. It would have been easy to turn away from my faith many times over. During my writing I was dealing with the nightmares of my past and living the horror of the present. It was difficult to write about my faith but I carried it with me every minute of every day I only wish I expressed it more in the book.
The time I remember most regarding my relationship with God was when a family member was so devastated that God had taken our Nathan. She questioned if she any longer believed in God. My response was quick and to the point: If you give up on God, you give up on heaven, if you give up on heaven you give up on ever seeing Nathan again.
God has been my refuge my entire life and I don’t think I gave the book enough time to let my love for God to shine through. Without my faith, without my God I would have given up a long time ago. I am far from perfect, I have accepted my own responsibility in the mistakes I have made and I am not looking to be nominated for Sainthood. But I also know of God’s love, the love of my family and learning to love myself as God does.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors