Reasons to stay

Michael Leach's latest book "Why Stay Catholic?" is about the "good stuff in Catholicism. Beautiful Catholic ideas we never hear about, even from the pulpit. Inspiring Catholics who never get on TV, and beneficial organizations that never make the newspapers but are making a difference in the world. I wrote the book for cradle Catholics who are fed up with scandals and cover-ups, weary Catholics who are tired of canned sermons, and for ex-Catholics (the fastest growing denomination in America) who are looking for spirituality but still haven't found it. Its message: don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. It's really good and will surprise you."
What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?

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When I'm writing a book, it's non-stop action, all day. As an editor and publisher, I know that if you give a writer a year to write a book, he will finish the manuscript in a year (or more) but his actual writing time will be six months (or less). I get it done in six months so I can relax the next six months.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write. Every day. In three hours you can do a minimum of three good double-spaced pages. Three pages times 300 days equals 900 double-spaced pages, three times more than you need for a 200 page-book. Read. Every day. Read books about how to write better. When you read, ask yourself why a sentence or paragraph or bit of dialogue pleases you. Look for figures of speech. Why do they make a sentence shine? Use figures of speech in your own writing.

Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.

"The Catcher in The Rye," like most young people; "The Brothers Karamazov," because it gripped me and made me think about the meaning of life; any thriller by Lee Childs or Michael Connelly. They know how to tell a story.

What book are you currently reading?

"Conversations with Martin Scorsese," by Richard Schickel. I love movies and reading about movies.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

I wish I had written the novel I wanted to write when I was in my 20s about children in an orphanage - "The Children of Bethlehem" -- and the world of generosity and humor that was unique to them and those who loved them. I actually experienced that world but when you get too far away from it you can't recreate it with the same passion.

Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.

"Curious George."

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?

Golly, that's a good question, and a hard one. I'd like to meet Salinger when he was younger and in a good mood and ask him about the Glass family and spirituality.

What book changed your life?

"Dialogues in Metapsychiatry" by Thomas Hora, M.D. He was a pathbreaking psychiatrist and spiritual teacher who taught that problems are psychological but solutions spiritual. His legacy includes a number of other mind-changing books, including "One Mind" and "Beyond the Dream."

What is your favorite spot in Ireland? All of them.

You're Irish if . . . you say, "There are only two kinds of people. The Irish and those who would like to be Irish."