Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Samuel W. Gailey, the acclaimed author of two novels, including The Guilt We Carry (you can read our 5-Star review HERE). After reading and reviewing his novel, we had the privilege of speaking to him for a bit. Samuel is a prolific writer, and all of his works have been met with a quite a bit of praise since their releases. If you want to learn more about Samuel, you can check out his WEBSITE or take a look at his books on AMAZON!
Thriller Magazine: The Guilt We Carry has received quite a bit of high praise and some comparisons to other acclaimed works, such as A Girl on a Train. Where did the idea for The Guilt We Carry come from, and why do you think readers are enjoying it?
I was living in Los Angeles at the time and part of my daily commute in dropping off my daughter at school took me past a park where homeless people resided. On one particular day, I noticed a young woman—maybe sixteen or seventeen—and I began to wonder what happened to this girl. Where was her family? Why wasn’t someone helping her? How did she end up living on the streets?
So the seed of a story was planted and began to take root.
I am drawn to stories where a simple, tragic twist of fate can alter the life of a character forever. Alice, in The Guilt We Carry, is an average middle-class fifteen-year-old girl, who is a good student and great swimmer. But everything changes the day when a horrible accident happens at home and Alice’s life spirals out of control.
I think readers will find themselves rooting for Alice, wanting her to overcome the many obstacles in front of her and to find a way to forgive herself.
TM: Alice is a very well-written protagonist. A lot of times, authors find it difficult to write a protagonist that is different from them in gender, culture, or age. Being a man, how did you go about creating and fleshing out Alice’s character?
I love reading character-driven stories, so when I begin writing a new book, I thoroughly develop each character—their physicality, their fears/wants/needs, their strengths and weaknesses, everything aspect of a real person. Since I explore two different times in Alice’s life, I was careful in creating Alice to make sure that she talked and reacted like a middle-class fifteen-year-old and a twenty-one-year-old. Additionally, since I lived in North Carolina for many years, I am familiar with southern culture and the way of life in that region. Many of Alice’s flaws and weaknesses (addiction, guilt, fear) translate to all genders, so I think that readers will be able to find empathy for this character.
TM: There are definitely some heavy themes of guilt and redemption in the novel. What do you hope readers take away from the story?
I think that all of us carry some kind of guilt at some point in our lives, both self-inflicted and possibly imposed. Alice struggles for many years with guilt and self-loathing, and her journey in my story takes many turns, but I think in the end, readers will be able to identify with Alice and see a flawed young woman that deserves absolution.
TM: The descriptive narrative you utilize is done quite masterfully. How did you go about finding a tone and voice for this work that would draw readers in?
Alice endures many harrowing experiences in her young life, and I wanted the effects of these experiences to be visceral, but not exploitive—realistic rather than unbelievable. I also wanted the reader to be with Alice during her loss of innocence and follow her on her journey to redemption. I cut back and forth from the time Alice was fifteen and twenty-one and maintained the narrative from her perspective, which I hope enables the reader to identify with this character.
TM: For a final, fun question: when The Guilt We Carry is turned into a film, who do you think would be a good director?
Ari Aster (Hereditary), Joe Wright (Hanna, Atonement, Darkest Hour), Jodie Foster.
Thank you for the interview, Samuel. Remember, if you want to learn more about Samuel, be sure to check out his WEBSITE!