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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Interview: Ted Galdi

On the lookout for the perfect thriller to sink your teeth into this weekend? Author Ted Galdi is here to talk all about his writing, his inspiration, and his latest novel An American Cage.

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.
I’m an East Coaster who moved out to Los Angeles a few years ago. Growing up, I always had some sort of writing side project going on, often very casual. After college, I worked in the software industry and ventured into novel writing in 2013 when I decided to sit down and do Elixir, my debut.
How did you first become interested in writing?
There was no “moment.” I guess I was born with a love of storytelling, the same as a musician is drawn to music at an early age. I love any sort of good story, from epic novels to funny stories my friends tell me about their weekends.
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Image: Ted Galdi
Tell me about An American Cage.
This was a fun one for me to write. It’s a fast-paced thriller like Elixir but aimed at more of an adult audience, so there was an opportunity to play around with a more complex theme. On a related note, I wrote Elixir in a very “sparse” writing style, while An American Cage is more layered in terms of language.

It’s a story about a suburban kid who winds up in maximum-security prison due to back luck. He and his two friends from jail escape. The book follows them over a twenty-four-hour period as they struggle to cross Texas to freedom in Mexico.
How do you get inspiration?
I enjoy a wide variety of entertainment. From books to music to movies to art. These are the things that inspire me most. A lot of Elixir was inspired by songs by The Cure, my favourite band, while the ideas behind An American Cage were sparked by a bunch of articles I read on the philosophy of consciousness.
What draws you to writing thrillers?
I feel stories should be both entertaining and thought-provoking. Thrillers provide the raw material for entertainment. High stakes, high danger, extreme situations. However, thrillers that offer nothing more than this are very forgettable. Reading them is like riding a roller coaster. They can be fun for the short period you’re on them, but once the ride is over, they’re out of your head. A good thriller, at least to me, is one that goes beyond an adrenaline rush. It should have “literary” elements baked into it. Interesting characters interacting in the context of an interesting theme can make a book stick in the head of a reader long after she’s finished.
ted-galdi, author
Image: Ted Galdi
What’s your writing process?
I wish I had some wild ritual I did…it’d make for a much better answer to this question. In reality, my process is pretty standard. I spend a decent amount of time thinking about a theme (boiled down to one sentence), the main characters, and a high-level plot. This would be phase 1. Phase 2 is an outline, a few words on what should happen in each chapter. Not much more detail than that. Phase 3 is the actual writing. I shoot for 2,000 words a day. For my first two books, I did five drafts before I felt they were ready.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
To me, it’s the constant balancing of plot, character, and theme. These are your main ingredients and they always have to be working together. The analogy I always give is one of a chef preparing a dish. He needs to be mindful of not just the ingredients themselves, but how they’ll interact with each other.
Which authors inspire you?
My favourite author is John Updike. I also really enjoy David Foster Wallace and Cormac McCarthy.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Don’t be intimidated by page count. A novel is 80,000 words, which sounds like a lot. But if you can only do 500 words a day (which is just a couple pages in Microsoft Word) you’ll have a completed first draft in only 160 days, less than six months. A little a day.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
I love The Catcher in the Rye. The Rabbit series, by Updike, which isn’t one book, would probably be my all-time favourite read though.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I care most about leaving an impression with readers. It always makes my day when I get an email from a reader telling me why they liked something I wrote. If this keeps happening, on a wider scale as I release more books, I’d be elated.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
The first thing I do every day after I get my cup of coffee is a crossword puzzle. I’m totally hooked. I’m a big modern art fan too. And go to museums a lot. Often by myself. I really like one not too far from me in LA called the Hammer. I’ve been skiing my whole life and try to go a few times each winter. I’m that crazy guy going down the double black diamonds at full speed. Which often doesn’t end well.
What are you currently working on?
Another thriller. Still on the first draft, but it’s moving.
Ted's novels are available to buy now. To find out more about his books, you can visit his website or find him on Facebook or Instagram.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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