THE POPE’S BUTCHER: Based on the True Story of a Serial Killer in the Medieval Vatican by Joseph C. Gioconda

About the Book

Inspired by true historical figures and events in the 15th Century, The Pope’s Butcher is not only a hair-raising work of suspense and espionage, but an astonishing account of religion and the occult in the Middle Ages.

About the Author

Joseph C. Gioconda spent years as a Catholic seminarian, which preceded his further career development in the secular world. He earned his law degree from the prestigious Yale Law School and is now a trial lawyer.

He lives in Newtown Pennsylvania with his wife (a fellow author) and his two children. This is his first novel.

His second novel SALEM’S ROPES will be published later this year.

Qn 1: Can you tell us more about your book What is it about?

Abandoned as a child and raised by the Church, young Sebastian works tirelessly in his pursuit of priesthood. But when a shadowy hooded figure passes him a scroll, his careful plans face a turning point. It appears his name has drawn the attention of the Inquisition and his attendance is commanded at once—for retribution, information, or something else, he does not know.

Father Heinrich Institoris the Grand Inquisitor is lauded as a visionary man, driven by a burning desire to cleanse the world of Eve’s original sin by eradicating witches. As Inquisition courts bloom across Europe, he vows to leave no stone unturned, no hovel unexamined, and no woman alive, in his search for justice.

As the Inquisitor’s violent mission unfolds, Sebastian embarks on a quest through dank crypts, crumbling abbeys, and the darkest depravities known to man. Torn between duty and love when he encounters the beautiful pagan Brigantia, he fights to uncover the truth: of his past abandonment, the power of the occult, and just how far he’ll go to protect the Church he loves. A Church that is harboring deadly secrets.

Inspired by true historical figures and events in the 15th Century, The Pope’s Butcher is not only a hair-raising work of suspense and espionage, but an astonishing account of religion and the occult in the Middle Ages.

Qn 2: Who do you think would be interested in this book, is it directed at any particular market?

The Pope’s Butcher appeals to readers who enjoy suspense and mystery, as well as historical fiction.

Qn 3: Out of all the books in the world, and all the authors, which are your favourite and why?

My favorite author is Stephen King. I find myself looking back at his early work again and again and find it fundamentally frightening.

Qn 4: What guidance would you offer to someone new, or trying to enhance their writing?

I think just keep writing and writing and writing. The more you do it, the better you get.

Qn 5: Where can our readers find out more about you, do you have a website, or a way to be contacted?

I can be e-mailed at my e-mail address ( I am a lawyer )

Qn 6: Your book is based on true events, how did you plan, and conduct your research? 

First, I started out with studying a 1924 English translation of Latin and German source materials that were originally published in the 15th Century.  However, that translation was weak, so I had to wait until a more recent one was made available. Second, I hired a graduate student who was studying for her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies at Fordham University to conduct more in-depth research.  Third, I read and digested dozens of books about the period, to better understand the authentic daily lives of villagers and the clergy.  Finally, the most fun thing I did was to spend time visiting the real locations in France, Italy, England and Ireland.  These trips took me years to finally accomplish, but I felt that it gave me a true insight into these real places. It also gave me an excuse to go on trips!

Qn 7: This is your first book with your second on the way. How did you find the journey of becoming a published author?  

I spend most of my time as a practicing lawyer. Therefore, most of my writing and reading is dry, technical cases, legal briefs and contracts. Writing fiction (historical and otherwise) is a great escape for me to hone my writing skills outside of the law.

Qn 8: Your next book Salem’s Ropes will be published later this year, some of us might be able to guess the story behind the book, but can you give us a brief blurb about what it will cover? 

Absolutely!  Unlike The Pope’s Butcher, my second book is set in modern times. A burnt-out engineer in the Midwest decides on a whim to purchase a 300-year old mansion in Salem, Massachusetts.

After he and his family move in, he discovers the local legends that this mansion is cursed as many former owners and residents died in gruesome and untimely ways.

He also suspects the mansion was somehow connected to the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Over time, becomes increasingly obsessed with uncovering the truth behind the mansion’s curse and fights a descent into madness.

Readers will find that all of my books have a common thread dealing with demons and real occult practices, which I have exhaustively studied.

Qn 9: I couldn’t resist this question… Who is the better writer, you or your wife 😉 

Hands down, my wife is the better writer.  Her books are a very different genre—humorous relationship guides and self-help books.  However, I can’t hold a candle to her witty writing style. I know my limits!

Qn 10: What’s next for you, after Salem’s Ropes will you continue your literary journey?

I have two more book ideas in the pipeline. One deals with New Orleans voodoo, and another continues to explore the medieval/Renaissance timeframe in connection with the Church and the Knights Templar. Characters from The Pope’s Butcher will be involved too, so stay tuned!

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