Garth Stein teaches writing classes, and he talks like it. I mean that in the best way.
He also seems to hold himself to the same standards he advises for his students. He’s often told students, excited about having just finished their manuscripts, that they need to calm down, that the first draft you write is not the finished book that is ready to send out into the world. He told the crowd at Barnes and Noble that it took him six years after The Art of Racing in the Rain to create the best book he could… But that A Sudden Light is it. To get there, he first had to endure the ruthless commentary of his first editor, his wife, and write about 250,000 words of backstory that cleared the path for the novel but didn’t really make it into the text.
To get there, he had to endure the ruthless commentary of his first editor, his wife, and write about 250,000 words of backstory that cleared the path for the novel but didn’t really make it into the text. He was very enthusiastic for his characters and lit up like a child while setting the scene for the audience, before reading snippets of the text.
Either his enthusiasm, his sense of humor, or his repeated esteem for his reader’s time and attention worked. This was not an event where purchase was required, but just about everyone scurried off to grab a copy while they set up the signing area.
Or maybe it was just pity. After describing Banned Book Week and some of the ways libraries and book stores celebrate the books (Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, Captain Underpants… Honestly, virtually any book you can think of, somewhere) which are targeted, he gleefully shared that The Art of Racing in the Rain has been banned in Dallas (case in point). Why would anyone ban this book? His wife theorized: “I think George W. Bush just figured out that dig about him you put in, and he’s getting back at you now.” “So,” Garth Stein concluded the story, gleefully tongue in cheek. “Please keep us in your thoughts during this extremely difficult time.”
Ideal Date: A hike through the kind of Pacific Northwest forests he described growing up near.