An American Cage
Expected Publication date: October 16th 2017
Ted Galdi broke out with his debut novel, Elixir a bestseller and winner of Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award and Silver Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. His second novel An American Cage, is due this Fall.
How long have you been writing?
Ever since I was a little kid, doing stories in crayon. “Professionally” since 2014, with the publication of Elixir, my debut.
Are you a plotter, panster, or a little of both?
A little of both. I won’t start chapter one until I have an outline. I make sure not to go into too much detail on this initial outline though. In my opinion, your idea of plot can’t be fully baked until you really know your characters, and the only way to really know your characters is to start writing. Needless to say, my outline evolves as I get through the first draft.
This is your second book. Compare your experience between the two.
I learned a lot along the way with my first, Elixir. That isn’t to say I didn’t learn a lot with An American Cage, but with your first everything is so new that you don’t even have a sense of your “rhythm.” You know, your way of approaching it all…conceptualizing, outlining, writing, self-editing, etc. AfterElixir, I knew what worked for me and what didn’t, and approached An American Cage through that lens. There was a lot less rewriting and deleted scenes the second time around, which saved me a headache or two.
Name at least three things that influenced you to become a writer.
Like I mentioned above, I’ve been doing this in some form since I was a little kid. I really enjoy it. Nothing was needed to “push me” toward me. You asked for at least three things here and I technically gave you zero. #QuestionFail
Do you write up character arc for your characters?
I think the character arc is one of the most interesting elements in fiction. Danny, the protagonist in An American Cage, definitely changes through the book. The entire story takes place over a twenty-four-hour period, which was a lot of fun to write, but presented a bit of a challenge in terms of arcs. Getting across a major change that happens in just a day was tricky.
Who is Danny Marsh and what does he want?
Danny Marsh is a twenty-four-year-old graphic designer who never committed a crime in his life. Then an incident of bad luck throws him into one of Texas’s toughest prisons. He wants to get out, get to Mexico, and start afresh with a new name and new identity.
What motivates him?
He’s an upper-middle-class kid with no crime experience. Obviously, he doesn’t fit in very well at a maximum-security penitentiary. Being inside psychologically tears at him. Not to mention, he’s had a few horrific run-ins with other inmates. He feels he won’t be able to survive there much longer, either mentally, physically, or both. Escape is the only answer for him.
What is your creative process for characters?
Like I’m sure most other authors do, I start the character-creation process with my protagonist. I start the book-creation process, however, with my theme. I’ll have a solid idea of the book’s theme before I begin with the characters. It’s critical for the protagonist’s arc to mesh with this theme. The supporting characters I consider “forces” that push the protagonist in directions relevant to the theme. Once I have a general idea of the main arc and the supporting forces at play, I then try to think about these characters as people. I do a lot of this off of feel. It’s not really a formal process. However, like I said before, it isn’t until I actually start writing, giving characters a voice and having them interact with each other, that I believe I really “know” them.
Tell us a few things about the setting for American Cage.
The whole book takes place in Texas. It opens in East Texas, then works its way west across the state. The cities in it are a mix of the real and fictional. It was important for me to make sure the setting felt authentic, so in cases where a town is fictional, I tried to give it the spirit of its region. I grew up in a New York City suburb and have been living in Southern California the last seven years. I’ve been to Texas a few times, but am no resident. I put a nice amount of time into setting research so I wouldn’t screw anything up.
What are some things you learned during your research?
Austin has kickass bars. That’s one of the Texas cities I have personally been to. Barhopping is a very high-end form of literary research in case you didn’t know.
I’m on a first draft of another thriller. I’d be happy to come back and talk about it when it’s ready.