How did you become a writer? I think I was born a writer. I tried to do other stuff for a while and be normal, but then I just gave up.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.). Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for sure. Tennessee Williams, definitely. Eugene O’Neill. Ken Kesey.
When and where do you write? I write like writing is a job. I have an office. I go to it. I fart around in the mornings, tending to business, editing, reading. In the afternoon, I look at the clock and think, "oh, crud, I have to get something done! It’s almost time to go home a fix dinner!” So I write furiously until I go home and fix dinner.
What are you working on now? My life right now is all about doing book business for my new book coming out on September 30th. I don’t have time to start new writing. So I’m just jotting down notes and ideas that come to me until I’m done with my tour in November and can put my energy into a new book.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? Who hasn’t? But you have to look at your story and say, okay, what comes next. Something HAS to come next. So write it. Even if it sucks, write it. Even if you’re going to throw it away, write it. Only by writing will you get yourself free of your stuck-ness. Only by writing will you discover your story and your characters. So quit moaning and write something!
What’s your advice to new writers? Take acting classes. Actors need to know all about the motivation of their characters. They need to know where the character is coming from and where he is going to, what he wants, what he needs, what he will die without having, etc. Actors are trained to create this world of the character, even though it might not all be in the text. It has to be in the mind of the actor playing the part. I think often novels fall slack or seem unrealistic or unbelievable because the author hasn’t done the homework on the intention and motivation of his or her characters. So I believe all writers should learn to be actors; it will improve their writing.
Garth Stein is the author of the soon to be released ghost story, A Sudden Light. His last novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, has been on the New York Times and other bestseller lists nation-wide for more than three years, and is published in 35 languages. He is the producer of a number of award-winning documentaries, and the author of the novels How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets and Raven Stole the Moon, and a full-length play, Brother Jones, upon which A Sudden Light is based. He is the co-founder of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit collective of NW writers dedicated to strengthening the ties between readers, writers, booksellers, and librarians. He lives with his wife and three sons in Seattle.