“I found myself truly crying a lot when I wrote my memoir. I was not intending on writing a book when I started out. I just wanted to write down what happened in my life so I could go on. When I was done, and when I showed it to close friends and family, I was asked what the message of the story was about. I truly didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have a message for the world. However, over time, when I started getting so many unsolicited letters from readers around the US and abroad, I discovered there truly was a message they all found. Once I saw what the readers found, it made being called an ‘Author’ easier for me to accept and for me to speak about my life and my memoir.
Can you give us a short synopsis of your book?
“ This is a story about a 45 year old man who finds himself constantly self-destructing in life and in order to go forward, he finally realizes he has to go back and really examine his past, to face his ghosts and put them to rest. In the process of going back, he discovers he really didn’t have it so bad and there were many people there along the way helped him that he really never understood until now. He discovers ‘gratitude’ and the healing begins. “
What inspired you to write this book?
“It was a phone call from a Newspaper reporter from Joliet, Illinois, who had found me via an old Nun who raised me in the orphanage in Joliet. He was doing a story about the 100th Anniversary of the Founding Of The Guardian Angel Home and was looking for people who had been there back when it was still an orphanage. He wanted to know what I thought of my experience, now it had been years since I left. He and I talked about an hour and when we were through, he suggested I write down my life story.” Several years later, I did.
Name your top five favorite books.
“ I truly am a fan of some classics. I read a lot of classics in my younger years and they have stuck with me. If you don’t mind, here are my top 11. These are just a few. But, not necessarily in this order…
1. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
2. “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey
3. “Captains Courageous” by Rudyard Kipling
4. “The Source” by James Michener
5. “Red Badge Of Courage” by Stephan Crane
6. “Grapes Of Wrath” by James Michener
7. “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles
8. “The Sound and The Fury” by William Faulkner
9. “The Human Comedy” by William Saroyan
10. “Mutiny On The Bounty” by Charles Nordhoff and James Hall
11. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Earnest Hemingway “
Do you write every day? Once a week? What is your writing schedule?
“I write almost every day in some form or fashion. Mostly for myself. I have an ongoing journal that I have been logging in for almost 20 years now. I will not publish it however. It is for my wife , children, and grand children to do with it, what they may”
What are you working on now?
“I am finishing my second book and a treatment for a screen play for my memoir, ‘Did I ever thank you, Sister?”
Title: Did I Ever Thank You Sister?
Author: Sal Di Leo
Sal Di Leo returns after 30 years to the Catholic orphanage outside Chicago that he and his siblings called home in 1963. This is the beginning of a journey of discovery and remembrance as Sal is forced to reconstruct his life as it really happened, including some of his most difficult years at Boys Town in Nebraska. As an adult, Sal tried to rise above his turbulent past in an aggressive quest for power and money. Successes soon led to failures. Eventually, a wise friend convinces Sal to go back to his roots and look for the good experiences and valuable lessons he learned as a nine-year-old orphan.
An entrepreneur who has successfully tackled many challenges in business and in life, Sal volunteers much of his time serving those in need. With his family, he founded St. Francis Lodge, a free retreat center where nuns, priests and others can reflect and rest to enhance their lives and work. The State Fish Art contest, which he started in Minnesota to help kids learn about conservation through art, is now offered in all 50 states and 12 countries. Sal has been actively involved with Rotary and the Lions Club, and he has spoken to service clubs around the United States about his life and the importance of gratitude. His self-published memoir, Did I Ever Thank You, Sister?, rooted in his childhood experiences in a Catholic orphanage, is available worldwide. The proud father of two adult daughters who have successfully left the nest, Sal has been married to his lovely wife Beth for more than 30 years. A longtime resident of Minneapolis, he is a 1977 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.