Carder Stout is the author of the new book Lost in Ghost Town: A Memoir of Addiction, Redemption and Hope in Unlikely Places. He is a psychologist, and he's based in Los Angeles.
Q: Why did you decide to write this memoir, and how long did it take you to work on it?
A: It took me two years to write the memoir and another year to get in published. It was a story that I lived which I believe is unique and compelling.
I always wanted to share it with an audience but needed time to heal before I felt comfortable doing this. The present tense of the story takes place over 17 years ago, so I felt removed enough from this part of my life to put it onto paper.
I also believe that the book may be inspirational to readers as it sends a message of hope.
Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: "Ghost Town" is a name that the addicts called the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice, California, because so many ghosts were walking the streets.
The memoir focuses on a time in my life that I was lost both spiritually and emotionally. I was addicted to cocaine at this time in my life and was self-medicating through the pain of my childhood.
Q: You relate some very difficult experiences--what was it like to look back at them as you wrote the book?
A: It was both therapeutic and cathartic to write down some of the more emotional moments in the book.
Sometimes it feels as though I have lived two lives and feel so grateful to be sober now for nearly 15 years. I am not ashamed anymore of the choices I made back then, but it had taken time for me to feel this way. I am proud of the life I have led and feel a deep sense of love for all of the characters in the book.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from your experiences?
A: My hope is that readers will realize that my story is one that is universal. It is the hero's journey which is an archetypal tale that we all know instinctively. The hero dies and is reborn with a gift to bring into the world. This is a story of pain, sadness, courage and hope - all relatable to everyone.
The message of hope is most important to me. No matter how far anyone falls down there is always a way to get back up and have a good life on the other side.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am writing a second book now about the universal aspects of addiction. It is more of a pop psychology book that I believe will spark a robust conversation about addiction.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I am so grateful that readers are responding so favorably to the book. I have received communications from so many that have been deeply moved and grateful to hear my experience.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb