Bemis Reviews Books Author Spotlight Presents: Ted Galdi Author of An American Cage
Q: Do you see Danny as deserving of the original sentence he received? Do you believe that it fit his crime? Was his time in prison a necessary step in his becoming a fully formed human being?
A: The first is definitely a complex question, and boils down to how important the idea of “intent” is with sentencing. Danny surely didn’t intend to commit that crime, so some may say he didn’t deserve a harsh punishment. However, the crime had a victim, who possibly would feel otherwise.
However, what Danny did at the social event before committing the crime, he did in fact have control over. Deep down he knew he was doing something wrong. In that respect, I feel some sort of a punishment is fair. As for the severity, or whether or not it “fit,” that raises a broader question about our criminal-justice system. A lot of our laws and sentences are based on generalities, not to mention the whims of local politicians, which is why there’s so much variety from state to state. In that regard, I feel the vast majority of prison sentences don’t “fit” their crimes. Many because they’re too strict, but others because they’re too lenient.
For many prisoners, time locked up does make them better human beings. It gives them a long opportunity to think about what they did and the trajectory of their life, which often leads to conscious change for the better. For others, even if they don’t grow, the time behind bars can act as a deterrent, reminding them what’ll happen if they make the same mistake once they get out, which obviously has a positive effect on the rest of society.
However, a strong force in the criminal-justice system has nothing to do with prisoner growth or deterrence, but simple revenge. “You hurt society, now society hurts you.” Simple and primal. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, but if we’re talking about all this, we should acknowledge it’s at play.
As for Danny, I’d say he grew in prison, because he’d never do what he did again. However, a lot more about Danny dwindled in prison, which of course prompts the action in An American Cage. The biggest changes of his life take place during the events of the story, once the crew breaks out of jail.
Q: Danny’s parents were willing to risk everything to help their son yet Danny’s father’s testimony played a big role in his having to go to jail in the first place. What was it that Danny father found lacking in his son and why did he feel the need to take such an action?
A: Danny’s father is a very principled man. Especially about his religion. What Danny did was at odds with how a true Christian, in the eyes of his dad, would behave. His spiritual ideals clashed with his son’s freedom. Danny’s dad certainly didn’t enjoy being in this position, but had to choose, and chose religion. Though Danny’s dad loves him, he feels he lacks strong principles, and his decision could certainly be seen as a lash-out against that, even if unconscious. Throughout the book Danny’s principles firm up, which his father surely would appreciate.
Q: Was Phil really as complex and intelligent as he appeared to be or was he just lucky that circumstances played out in his favor and was callous enough to recognize easy prey? Was it fair that Phil and Danny were paired up as bunkmates in regard to their individual crimes?
A: Phil is definitely as complex and intelligent as he appears. As for the cellmate grouping, Danny and Phil weren’t paired up originally. They only bunked together after Phil put in a special request to the prison psychologist. Which was surely no coincidence.
Q: In the story, references are made to the Aryan brotherhood and we witness blatant discrimination towards blacks. Monty comes across as accepting of these prejudices and seems relatively at peace with who he is. What accounts for his ability to rise above it all?
A: Monty is a special kind of person. Born with nothing. Expecting of nothing. Instead of focusing on what he doesn’t have, he focuses on getting the most out of any little pleasures he has a chance at. He’s able to zero in on the positive, even just traces, while shutting out the negative, like the inane racism that comes his way. He’s got more important things to worry about. Positive things. Like finally seeing the ocean.
Q: Jane is hitchhiking to California to escape an impossible home situation. She crosses paths with Danny and Phil and things take an unfortunate turn for her. Jane seems to be a solid judge of character and knows she is in danger. Do you feel she tried as hard as she could to escape her situation?
A: Jane’s home situation was horrible, but her own life was never in danger. Once her path crosses with Danny and Phil’s, however, that changes. She fears for her life. An escape attempt that doesn’t go perfectly could end up with her dead. In this regard, she herself becomes imprisoned alongside the two prisoners.
However, this doesn’t diminish her ability to judge character. As the dynamics of her individual relationships with Danny and Phil evolve, she easily goes from a place of uncertainty to one of definiteness.
Ted Galdi is an Amazon #1 bestselling author, and winner of a Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award and a Silver Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. He’s been featured by ABC and FOX television, iHeartRadio, and many other media outlets. Ted is a graduate of Duke University. Elixir (2014) is his debut novel, and An American Cage (2017) his second.
To learn more about him and his books and sign up for his mailing list, please visit his official website at www.tedgaldi.com.