Welcome to The Maguire Minute, a place where I interview people I find interesting and ask questions off-the-beaten path.
Author, Podcaster, C.S. Lewis scholar
Morgantown, West Virginia
I first virtually met William O’Flaherty roughly five years ago when I submitted the musical project Clint Meador and I created, “Art from the Silent Planet,” to him for review on his dynamic website, EssentialCSLewis.com. The album is inspired by Lewis’s first book in the Space Trilogy. O’Flaherty was kind enough to mention it on one of his web platforms and later he used the track, “Ransom Walks” as the music for his podcast, “200 Seconds in Hell With C.S. Lewis.”
While I was impressed with his website(s) and podcast at the time, I was happily surprised when his book, “C.S. Lewis Goes to Hell: A Companion and Study Guide to The Screwtape Letters” was published a couple of years later. The in-depth analysis of Lewis’s magnifico work was not only sublime and well thought-out, but practical – a talent sorely missing in many pieces in that genre.
O’Flaherty has continued to cement himself as a scholar in the Lewis pantheon with the book ” The Misquotable C.S. Lewis,” published a few years ago.
In addition to writing for his website EssentialCSLewis.com, he has contributed online articles to Christianity Today, Breakpoint.org, NarniaFans.com and the official C.S. Lewis blog by Harper Collins. His podcast, “All About Jack,” primarily features interviews about books related to C. S. Lewis and his YouTube channel (90 Seconds to Knowing C.S. Lewis) provides concise facts about Lewis.
A resident of Morgantown, West Virginia, O’Flaherty is employed full-time as an in-home Family Therapist. He has also worked as a school guidance counselor and radio announcer and holds a Master’s degree in counseling from Appalachian State University.
O’Flaherty took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to catch up last week.
- What music are you listening to right now?
Over the last few years I’ve been listening to contemporary hymns most of the time, but I have a range of tastes. I enjoy music from Switchfoot and older artists like Petra, Whiteheart, Daniel Amos and Phil Keaggy.
- You’ve gained a reputation as an advocate for ‘truth’ in regard to C.S. Lewis’s quotes, ideas and the context in which he said such. What inspires you to pursue this?
From a young age, I was fascinated with facts or trivia and not long after that I grew to also enjoy quotations. Back in the late 1990s I had a personal website that doesn’t exist anymore, and it included a weekly Lewis quote. Then when I started EssentialCSLewis.com (which grew out of another online venture that is no longer active), I began sharing a quote by Lewis each day. This led to coming across quotes credited to Lewis from other places that I learned wasn’t actually by him. Several Lewis scholars encouraged me to collect my findings and write about it. And so I began to collect all of the writings by Lewis that were available electronically to help make my research easier. My inspiration to do this is my love of his works and knowing I wouldn’t want people to misquote me.
- What is your favorite C.S. Lewis book? Why?
Sometimes, my favorite Lewis book is the one I’m currently reading. However, early on The Screwtape Letters became a favorite and that has remained to this day. The first time I read it I found it so insightful and an aid to my spiritual walk. That’s still true today and it’s why I love it so much.
- Your companion book to, ‘The Screwtape Letters’ is extensive. What fueled you to pursue this project?
Because Screwtape has always been my favorite Lewis book, it was only natural to want to help others enjoy it as much as I have. Just over 20 years ago when I lived in Kansas City, I filled in for a Sunday School class and got to pick what I could teach. I picked The Screwtape Letters and the foundation for the book was born then.
- Where are you looking forward to vacationing next?
Before the Pandemic I didn’t do vacations very often, but a special spot is Oxford, England because of the connection to C.S. Lewis. My wife and I have been there twice and are looking forward to visiting again.
Note: O’Flaherty actually interviewed noted C.S. Lewis scholar Walter Hooper in 2016. You can listen to that interview here
- Your podcasts are fantastic. Who has been your favorite person to interview and why?
That’s like picking your favorite child and a good parent doesn’t. While I have had some people who I’d avoid having on the show again, let me play it safe and pick someone who is no longer with us; that is Dr. Bruce Edwards. While I’ve had other on the show more than him, I have some of the best memories recording a two-part podcast on the four volume reference work he edited called C.S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy.
You can learn more about O’Flaherty via these links
T.M. ‘Mike’ Brown
Author, Southern Literary Scion
Even wholesome small towns are not free of conflict and scandal.T.M. ‘Mike’ Brown
Where to find Mike on the web:
I met T.M. Brown – known as Mike to his friends – at a book reading in Alpharetta, Georgia three years ago this summer. We were both featured authors at, ‘A Novel Idea,’ a dynamic series of author readings set throughout metro Atlanta helmed by Marsha Cornelius.
In the years since, I’ve been privileged enough to get to know Mike not only as the author of the celebrated Shiloh series, but also through his relentless work carrying the torch of Southern literature. Mike is the founder of Hometown Novel Nights, a veritable moveable feast of evenings where writers and readers can engage. These events have taken place from barbecue joints to esteemed libraries to wine cellars since it was launched. He also leads various other author and reader events that take place at venues throughout the state.
If you don’t catch Mike at a book signing, you can also discover him online through one of his many sites. While his work with Hometown Novel Nights has gained him strong recognition, I especially enjoy seeing photos from him reading to the residents at The Monarch House Literati Book Club, a Senior Assisted Living Residence in Newnan. He has carried this tradition on throughout the Pandemic – safely, of course. That type of service is the mark of a true gentleman, in my book.
Mike lives outside of Newnan in Grantville with his wife of more than 45 years, Connie.
His books include:
The first of the Shiloh series, Sanctuary which was published in 2017, followed by Testament: An Unexpected Return in April 2018. Purgatory: A Progeny’s Quest was published in May 2020 and concluded the series.
He’s currently working and researching a new novel you can read about more below.
We had a few minutes to catch up earlier this month. Here’s what’s cracking with Mike.
Q: What music are you listening to right now?
A: 1960s-70s Oldies is my favorite, followed by Backroads Country music when I am writing, et al. Alan Jackson, etc.
Q: What book are you currently reading?
A: Parker’s Choice, Mike Nemeth and Outbound Train, by Renea Winchester. I am reading Outbound Train at the Monarch House’s Literati Book Club.
My to-be-read pile contains books by John Grisham and Ferrol Sams, and on my desk is a copy of Early Days on the Georgia Tidewater, by Buddy Sullivan.
Q: Who is your favorite author and why?
A: John Grisham. His novel, A Painted House got me inspired to begin writing years ago. Grisham’s straight forward story-telling writing style also has captivated my reading for years.
Terry Kay is a close second.
Q: Where are you looking forward to vacation to next?
A: Planning another trip to Darien, Ga./Sapelo Island area – a return trip for more research on my next novel. Also, Beaufort, S.C. to revisit The Pat Conroy Literary Center and author friends – the fishing’s pretty good there, too!
Q: You’re a proponent of Southern literature. What makes it so special?
A: Southern heritage, rural roads, front porches, barbecue, pickup trucks, creeks and lazy rivers, fishing, live oaks draped with gray moss, sandy beaches, Gulf breezes, backwood cabins, pace of life and, outside of Atlanta, no traffic jams!
Q: Do you have a favorite poem?
A: I’ve never been a huge reader of poems. Closest would be my love for reading Psalms and other Books of Wisdom in the Bible.
Q: Tea or coffee?
A: COFFEE, especially New Orleans chicory blend.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
A: My father. I’ve got so many questions about his youth in Depression era Georgia before his father moved the family to Miami just before WWII. [There are stories] that he never shared about his childhood. Doing our family tree has left us with mountains of questions.
Q: Catfish. Do you eat them?
A: Fried with hush puppies, fries, and Cole slaw.
Q:Do you have a favorite motto or quote?
A: Never, never, never quit.
Q: What is your advice to young artists?
A: There are no shortcuts to success. What looks like or sounds like a shortcut is almost always a costly dead end. Focus on the small things and the big things will take care of themselves. Always remember why you began your journey; it’ll get you through the tough, uncertain times along the way.
Q: And the most important question of all. Who has the best barbecue?
A: I’m still searching and researching that question. Tasted great BBQ from Texas to Georgia to Virginia, and I’ll reserve to say I’ve got a lot of places yet to visit for lunch or dinner. The best barbecue in the meantime is the one I am enjoying next. Of course, Sonny’s is the best restaurant chain for barbecue and always the place to stop when on a road trip in the South.