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Keeping Us in Suspense:
U. S. A. | MEMBERS | NEWS
Consecrated woman Joan Kingsland writes Catholic novel that challenges the culture

Joan talks with mothers at a book signing at Everest Academy in Clarkston, Michigan
Joan talks with mothers at a book signing at Everest Academy in Clarkston, Michigan

“It’s just so hard for my son to escape notice. He’s so talented.”

This sounds like the bragging of a proud mother.  But Liz Foster is no ordinary mother.  She stars in a new novel written by one of our own Regnum Christi consecrated woman, Joan Kingsland, and what the protagonist says next to her son’s soccer coach might surprise you.

“Nobody can see. It’s imperative for Jimmie’s safety that he go unnoticed!”

The novel Ask Me No Questions is also not your ordinary novel.  “The plot definitely challenges the ‘wisdom’ of our current culture,” she said, but she will go no further in discussing the specifics of the plot.  “After all, it is a suspense novel!”

Not Your Average Nun

Joan, who is a moral theology doctoral graduate from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family and a moral theology professor at Mater Ecclesiae College in Greenville, Rhode Island, has always wanted to do two things -- give her life to Jesus Christ and to teach. 

As a young child, she told her mother that she wanted to be a “nun-teacher.”  Her mother prophetically predicted she would do just that, but in a new and unique way.

“Years later, when I met the consecrated women of our movement, I was immediately captivated by their joy and enthusiasm and their way of life,” Joan said. “I had been ‘convent-hopping’ for some months and nowhere did my heart resonate as it did here (with Regnum Christi.) Then I recalled my mother’s prophetic words that I hadn’t thought about for years.”

Joan decided to become consecrated in the RC Movement during the summer of 1992.  Since then, she has not only been teaching moral theology, but finding
ask me no questions
The front and back cover of Joan Kingsland's novel, Ask Me No Questions.
time to use her talents for the purposes of evangelization through fiction.  With her first novel Joan hopes not only to entertain, but to educate others in the moral teachings of the Church. 

TOB Runs Through It

She said she is greatly in debt to Blessed John Paul II.

“John Paul II was a model of holiness for me, a great teacher of the faith, not only by his words but by the example of his life,” she said. “My studies (at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family) connect to this novel since at its heart are a loving family and a love story.”

Joan said that John Paul II’s Theology of the Body influences the story and the choices of its main characters.  Joan said readers familiar with Church teaching will see this in the behavior of Liz Foster in how she handles relationships and educates her children.

For those not familiar with the Theology of the Body, Joan explains that, according to John Paul II, physical intimacy between a man and a woman has an inherent meaning of total self-giving, and a person can tell the “truth” or “lie” through the actions of his or her body. 

“Conspiracy” of Characters

Joan cautions that when readers first meet Liz Foster, they won’t like her.

“You’ll put her down as a neurotic, over-protective mother,” she said. “There’s something akin between her and Jerry Fletcher played by Mel Gibson in the movie Conspiracy Theory.”

Joan predicts readers will like Liz’s young son Mikey best because he focuses his brilliance on two things: protecting his family against those who killed his father and contriving chance meetings between his brother’s coach, David Johnston, and his mother.

The book also contains characters of much more unsavory nature, but details, once again, would give too much away.

Writing in Snatches

Joan said she writes whenever she can. “Writing (fiction stories) reenergizes me, so getting the time in helps keep me
Joan talks with students from Everest Collegiate Girls’ High School
Joan talks with girls from Everest Collegiate Girls High School about her novel. She also visited the Queen of the Family Retreat Center in Oxford, MI, and locations in Milton, Ontario; Pittsford, NY and Canadaigua, NY.
productive in other areas,” she said.  She wrote this particular story “in snatches,” on and off for three years. “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” she said.

Putting Ask Me No Questions down on paper has been fairly easy for Joan. “I didn’t get writer’s block until near the end of the story,” she admits. “For each scene I would just wonder, ‘What happens next?’ and then it seemed to me that the story would unfold in my head as if I was merely a passive observer.

“For the end of the book, though, it was like the television wouldn’t go on. I would try to ‘watch’ what happened but saw nothing. Then one day it came to me in a flood.”

After finishing the story in 2009, the RC consecrated women decided to publish Joan’s book through Mater Ecclesiae College.  So far the response has been positive.

 “Both adults and high school students are enjoying it, they tell me,” she said.

Interestingly, Joan said she didn’t intend this story to be a novel at first.  “My real goal was to write a screenplay.”

Because the 50 short chapters can easily correspond to movie scenes, Joan has just finished a rough draft of the screenplay and sent it for feedback and advice to a friend working in the movie industry.

Listen to Your Critics

Joan advises new writers to be patient, and to count on others for helpful feedback.

“I’m deeply indebted to my consecrated companions for their constant interest and encouragement,” she said. “I spent hours telling the story over and over again, always welcoming their feedback. In particular, one of the consecrated, Lisa, was of immense help. I would give her the chapters as I wrote them.  She heard me telling the whole story and already had a grasp of the characters.  She made all sorts of helpful observations.

“Originally I had Liz’s son Jimmie saying disrespectful things about his mother,” Joan said. “But Lisa told me, ‘Jimmie would never treat his mother that way!’ It made me laugh how she defended a character of my own making to me. But I realized she was right, and I adjusted the story.”

Those interested in finding out more about Ask Me No Questions and want to know just how the story turns out can go to www.rcmusicnow.org to order a copy.  (The ISBN number is 978-0-692-01410-3.)  All proceeds support the consecrated women of Regnum Christi and Mater Ecclesiae College.

Please Note – Joan has recently completed a non-fiction book called You Make Me Mad: A Christian Approach to Overcoming Anger.  She submitted the work to the Word Alive Press Contest for Canadian authors and was named among the contest “shortlist” finalists. Her submission scored 18/20 in a field of about 200 non-fiction and fiction entries.  Congratulations Joan!


PUBLICATION DATE: 2011-09-29


 
 

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