“What you do is you take a slice of life and you manipulate it,” Wise said. “You mold it into story form that the reader can identify with. What I think a good writer does is try to take you down a road into somebody’s head that you could never get inside of and show you some of those surprises.”
The book is based in Italy and, he said, took six weeks of intense research. He used experience from his 15 trips to Rome to create detailed accounts of the Townsends’ surroundings.
“I try to saturate myself with the environment of what the story’s about,” Wise said. “I traveled behind the scenes a lot in the Vatican, held audiences with the Pope, and you see a lot of things that stick with you that germinate into ideas for stories.”
Using details such as a 9 mm Glock and clay bombs, is this guy really an archbishop?
“I’ve known Wise as a person who wears many hats,” said Mike Owen, a bishop who’s known him for 30 years. “I asked him many years ago, ‘What makes a good author?’ He replied, ‘A good author is somebody who has to write.’ He set up a good discipline … he has a wide breadth of experience.”
Owen attributed Wise’s ability to “weave a good story” to his travel experiences; he’s visited more than 50 countries. He builds relationships and bridges with other communities and contacts. That’s how he met Norman-based author Sharon Sala.
“It was surprising to hear about his ‘other life’ as an archbishop, and then not so much,” Sala said. “I like the way he draws a picture in my mind.”
Wise, who spends most of his days writing, cited Morris West, Daniel Silva and Elmore Leonard as his inspirations.
“When you read them, it’s like reading poetry,” he said. “Each author has (his) own way to make words sing.”
“Shrouded in Silence” left the Townsends room to wiggle into a sequel, but will it happen? Wise said he’s unsure about their future, but plots have a “very unexpected way of dovetailing.”