Interview with writer Michael Gaulden about his memoir

Writer Michael Gaulden joins me today and we’re
chatting about his memoir, My Way Home:
Growing up Homeless in America.
Bio:
Michael
Gaulden is an American author of the debut memoir entitled: My Way Home: Growing up Homeless in America.
He received his bachelors of arts from UCLA. He is also a musician, poet,
spoken word artist, public speaker to audiences ranging from 20-2000, homeless
activist, and activist for all disadvantaged people. He is the former Director
of Business and Community Relations for Reality Changers, a college prep
organization with a focus on building first-generation college students. He is
currently the Career Exploration Coordinator and Internship Coordinator for the
Monarch School Project. Monarch is the only operational school in the United
States that exclusively educates K-12 students who are impacted by
homelessness; a school Michael also attended in his youth.
Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about
your current release.
It’s my debut
memoir chronicling growing up homeless in the inner city for 10 years, ages 7
to 17, and how I had to create the light at the end of the tunnel. I focus primarily
on my high school years, the horror of my homelessness, having to survive and
earn my way to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).
What inspired you to write this book?
I do a lot of
speaking engagements, activism, and interacting with disadvantaged people. They
all felt how I felt growing up, lost in darkness without a voice. One day a
lady came up to me after a speech and said I should write a book. It could
reach more people than I ever could by speaking venue to venue alone. She said
that I could be the voice of millions and show a hidden world invisible to most.
I believed she was right. I can’t help people victimize themselves or wallow in
self-pity, but I can stand with them as they change their respective realities.
Excerpt from My Way Home: Growing up Homeless in America:
“I
was just about to give him some money. He couldn’t have possibly done whatever
you’re arresting him for. You’re racial profiling. He’s just a homeless boy.
These people have a right to exist too.”
People
had stopped, and the officer didn’t want a scene. He eyed me up and down and
reluctantly removed the handcuffs. “You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?” he
asked me.
“No
sir.”
“Of
course not,” he said. “Good day ma’am.”
“Good
day sir!” she remarked. He returned to the police car and drove away.
“What
a jerk.” The woman stuck out the single dollar bill. I stared at it with a lack
of enthusiasm. For some reason her previous words repeated over and over in my
head. She had my whole life summed up so meaningless in a few short words:
“Just a homeless boy.” I mean I existed as a homeless boy… but did that tell
you my character? Was my circumstance my entire identity? I took the dollar and
politely thanked the woman. I meant it for her heroic contribution to my life.
She thought my gratitude was for the dollar. She eagerly acknowledged my
gratitude and rubbed me on my head, almost petting me.
“Take
care, hun.” She stepped away, leaving me, the homeless boy to his homeless
business. Her words had an emptiness about them, which just didn’t sit well
with me. I didn’t understand why it bothered me as I had been called so many
names, but she spoke of me as if my existence wasn’t equivalent to hers. Most
people insulted me on purpose. I had defenses set up for insults. The problem
was she didn’t ridicule me on purpose, which was worse.
I
headed toward Rudy and his tent, traversing under the night sky. Ray was in
real trouble but I couldn’t do anything. He tried to help but he almost caused
my arrest too. After all of my effort, I gained nothing. I landed right back
where I started. I folded my arms into my shirt to generate warmth.
At
least I would be safe with Rudy; he was just a homeless man who didn’t matter.
A ghost only police could see. He sat at the bottom of America with no hope of
ever progressing. His moral compass lost on the underside of capitalism. I fit
well with Rudy: a mundane homeless man and a mundane homeless boy. I had a
name—Michael Gaulden—but my name was irrelevant. I clenched the money the woman
gave me tightly in my hand until my fingernails cut into my skin. My life was
barely worth a dollar.
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I’m not
completely positive. It will either be a historical fiction novel to shake up
the world, or a fiction series.

When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
Deep down I
always considered myself a writer. At that point in my life it was more of a
feeling and written material. Anyone who writes is a writer. However, around 17
I wrote my first article published in the local San Diego newspaper, The Union
Tribune. When that happened, I felt, maybe I can really do this. Maybe I can
publish a story. Being published separates a writer from an author. It is a
battle-hardened accolade.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
That would be
the dream. Right now, I work full time as the College & Career Exploration Coordinator and Internship
Coordinator for the Monarch School Project. Monarch is the only operational
school in the United States that exclusively educates K-12 students who
are impacted by homelessness.
I forge the time to write. Sometimes its late night, sometimes its early
morning or whenever else presents itself. I learned that, right now in my
career, there will never be a convenient time to write. I have to make it
happen.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I’m not sure.
I’m not too quirky. I’ll rewrite the same story front to back about three times
on average before anyone else sees it. In some case five.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
I always
wanted to be a writer and an entrepreneur. Being an Entrepreneur was deemed,
believe it or not, less risky than writing. Ideally, I want to combine the two.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
This story is
my soul on paper. It comes from the heart. Always believe in yourself even when
others do not. We all have obstacles and challenges that hinder us. Overcoming
your obstacles is your story. Sharing your story gives it purpose. Never be
afraid.
Links:
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Publisher | Book
page



Thanks for chatting with me today,
Michael.

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