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The Big Thrill Discusses THE CONFESSIONS OF POPE JOAN With Gary McAvoy

Book: Cover: The Confessions of Pope JoanIn the heart of the English countryside, a discovery is made that threatens to overturn centuries of Church history. When Father Michael Dominic uncovers a cryptic diary leading to a lost 1st century Gospel, he is thrust into a labyrinth of deceit, murder, and controversy. Alongside Hana Sinclair, a savvy journalist, Michael sets out to unravel a mystery buried deep within the Church’s past. THE CONFESSIONS OF POPE JOAN is a gripping tale of courage and faith, charting their quest against a powerful adversary seeking to keep the truth hidden.

Their journey reveals the existence of Pope Joan, the first and only female Pope whose reign has been obscured by time and conspiracy. As they traverse the intricate tapestry of deceit and power, they must confront a society unwilling to relinquish its patriarchal hold. Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Grace Dempsey, assigned to a seemingly unrelated murder case in England, stumbles upon a thread that binds her to the historic revelation. Their paths converge, creating a thrilling narrative that intertwines past and present, fact and fiction.

As the Vatican’s secrets unfold, Pope Ignatius, Michael’s ailing father, battles his own legacy. Torn between preserving the Church’s past and shaping its future, his decisions become paramount in the struggle for truth. The Pope’s radical stand for change, embodied in two Apostolic Constitutions, sets the stage for a new era in the Church while challenging long-standing beliefs and traditions.

Gary McAvoy

Gary McAvoy

Award-winning author Gary McAvoy recently spent time with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest religious thriller, THE CONFESSIONS OF POPE JOAN.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

I once happened to have read a brief article about the legendary Pope Joan, purportedly a female pope who led the Church in the ninth century. That stayed with me for a while until I realized I had to include it in my Vatican thriller series.

What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

My main character is a young Jesuit priest, assigned as prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives. Put his natural curiosities up against the millions of historical documents archived over centuries, and the stories that emerge from that alliance are bountiful.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Readers of THE CONFESSIONS OF POPE JOAN will journey through a riveting labyrinth of deceit, legacy, and change, questioning the very foundation of Church history. The story showcases the tenacity of individuals—across time and status—in pursuing truth against a backdrop of systemic patriarchy and secrecy. Above all, it highlights the power of unearthing concealed histories, reminding us that the path to meaningful change often lies in confronting uncomfortable truths. This book is not merely a tale to be consumed but a challenge to re-examine our understanding of power, history, and the enduring human spirit.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

Leonardo da Vinci was known for his futuristic designs for mechanical devices, such as the helicopter, tank, scuba gear, etc. The novel I’m working on now uses a fictional device of Leonardo’s that not only predicts the orbital trajectory of asteroids, but the ability to control them.


Gary McAvoy is author of both fiction and nonfiction, including his bestselling thriller series The Magdalene Chronicles, and its sequel series, Vatican Secret Archive Thrillers. His nonfiction work And Every Word Is True has been hailed as a sequel to Truman Capote’s landmark book In Cold Blood. Gary is also a professional collector of ancient manuscripts and historical documents, much of which informs his writing projects.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.