Welcome to my stop on Gary Santorella’s Dyed Souls blog tour! Many thanks to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for arranging the following interview…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I was at this book for a better part of 35 years. I was a psychotherapist and social worker (still licensed), but for the last 22 years have run my own consulting company doing Lean assessments, team building and executive coaching – mostly in the construction industry. I’ve written two Lean Culture books that were published in 2010 and 2017 by Taylor & Francis. Dyed Souls is a story that kept gnawing at me relentlessly until I finally finished. It was published by Matador in 2018.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I worked in settings described in the book early on in my career. Most of us were fresh out of college – hardly what you’d call responsible adults. We’d pour over case histories, diagnoses, and treatment plans, but that always seemed to me to miss the larger point. We evolved to live in small tribal groups, held together by shared values, taboos and mores. But we’ve radically, and rapidly altered that paradigm. Rather than doing what’s best for our tribe’s interest, we do what is our own interest. We live in vast cities and suburbs, held together by laws, which may or may not be enforced, and are often subjectively interpreted. We seek out those who share our interests (and often enable harmful behavior), but in our internet age, even these connections are tenuous. My goodness, if someone ever invents lifelike sex robots all intimate human interaction may cease to exist. Evolution has no set end game, it just is. But when you look at where we are going in the US – away from acquiring wisdom and knowledge – and ever onward toward materialism, entertainment, and a wide array of pseudoscientific and irrational beliefs and behaviors, you can’t help speculate that throwaway kids I write about are the by-product of such shallow values. This is the story I wanted to tell. Sure, you can point to biological damage, and abuse, and substance abuse, and poverty, and failed educational systems. But we’re the one’s who created this, aren’t we? It’s laughable to me when people say that redistribution of wealth coupled with more government programs is the answer. Unless we address the fundamental narcissism at the core of these issues, all the money and government programs in the world won’t mean a damn thing. And the far right is just as misguided. What is more narcissistic than believing there is a God that watches over us, and if we pray hard enough and live by the inconsistent and contradictory doctrine espoused by various religious texts that all will be well? To me, all of this is a problem: our beliefs on the left and right are far too human centric. As beings, we are an infinitesimally small part of a vast universe. We have to stop acting like we’re the only ones that matter, and that our happiness and all of the plants and animals on the planet are at our disposal. Though we think otherwise, except in the scientific community, we are only one very small step removed from the leap that Copernicus made. And in many ways, we are going backwards. We are becoming more, not less egocentric. (If you doubt this, spend five minutes on Twitter, or watch The Kardashians, which are veritable homages to narcissism.) The book conveys my fervent belief that it is our duty and responsibility to help each other – not because we are trying to gain God’s favour or fulfil some socialist ideology – but because that it what we evolved to do. It’s how successful tribes flourish. The greatest travesty inflicted on mankind is a modern one: that we are somehow not fully responsible regarding our obligations toward others and that government exists to fill this gap. Once you deflect individual responsibility toward an abstract third entity, you will have what is depicted in this book. This is why I think it’s an important read.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I worked with adolescents for ten years. The characters are an amalgam of the hundreds of kids I worked with.
How do you pick your characters names?
I honestly don’t have an answer for that. You get a feel for a character, and that feel tells you their name based on your own idiosyncratic experiences and the people you’ve encountered in your life.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I write illegible bits of ideas on scraps of paper that accumulate on my desk. Most of them get tossed, but the ones that don’t, eventually get the writing process going. When I get stuck, I outline what I’ve got, and that usually gets me unstuck. Knowing the ending helps. Then it’s a matter of filling the missing pieces in until you get there.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
As a kid, I loved HG Wells. Then later, John Steinbeck, William Saroyan, Somerset Maugham, Paul Auster, and Andrea Makine. All have a way of looking at the human condition critically, but compassionately.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
That would have to be Charles Darwin. He knew so well the implications of what he was writing – moving man from the realm of the divine to being related to other animals – so I would want to ask about what he wrestled with, what held him back from publishing until Wallace forced his hand.
Were you a big reader as a child?
I was. Read lots of Science Fiction (HG Wells, Harry Harrison, Asimov, etc.) And I read tons of science books (Dinosaurs, astronomy, geology, basic microbiology.)
When did you start to write?
I remember sitting behind an old Remington typewriter at the age of 7, writing speculative science stories about dinosaurs and astronomy. Most of it was heavily plagiarized from what I had just read. I stated writing short stories in my teens, but it was all drivel. My first short story was published in the Providence Journals Sunday Magazine – and then it all went dark. Work, marriage, travel for work, travel for fun – it’s all a common tale. But Dyed Souls just wouldn’t let me go. I had to finish it.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Sorry, I just don’t think that way. If I want to tell a story, then I need to tell it – not tell someone else how they should do it. That whole notion is abhorrent to my soul.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster. I’m so envious of how Auster seems to be able to get his thought on the page so effortlessly.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
Pass – too boring of a topic
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
What are you working on right now?
I don’t talk about future work. I’m a firm believer in the notion that the more you talk about something, the more you take away from the energy of actually doing it. I know lots of folks that talk and talk, and produce little. I’m trying not to be one of them.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Interesting Question. Actually, nothing. I’ve had three books published. After everyone all I feel is relief, and a little nausea (I’m not kidding). There is something about putting yourself out there and vulnerable that comes with a sense of foreboding. So celebrating is not something that comes to mind – at all.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Twitter is best: : https://twitter.com/dyedsouls
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Thanks, Kerry, for taking the time to provide this Q&A for your blog – much appreciated!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! 🙂
Described by John Lloyd of The Bookbag as “Catcher in the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Dyed Souls is a gritty coming-of-age literary novel, set in a residential treatment center in 1980’s California.
Charlie Lyle loves science, natural history, and the world of the mind, and it is his refuge and salvation as he copes with his drug-addicted mother and a world of circumstances well-beyond his grasp. More a work of philosophy than psychology, “For the teen it has a galling coming-of-age, redemption quest. For the adult it has that, as well as a literary look at a singular fictional life.”
Gary Santorella, Owner, Interactive Consulting is a Lean implementation, organizational development, conflict resolution, and team-building specialist. He has a BA in Behavioural Psychology from Providence College, Providence, RI (1980), a Master’s Degree in Occupational Social Welfare from UC Berkeley (1990), and is a licensed cognitive-behavioural therapist in the State of California. His book: Lean Culture for the Construction Industry: Building Responsible & Committed Project Teams 2nd Edition was published by Productivity Press (a division of Taylor & Francis) in 2017. His first novel, Dyed Souls, was published by Matador Publishing in 2018.
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Dyed Souls has won two awards:
Silver in the 2018 Global eBook Awards – Young Adult Fiction Category
Chill With a Book Readers Award.
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happy reading 🙂