Garth Stein is a bit of a risk-taker. When conducting field research for his latest novel, A Sudden Light, Stein climbed an over 200 foot coastal redwood tree. With the assistance of ropes and ascenders, as well as a climbing instructor, Stein shared the same experience of climbing forest giants as many of his characters do. His risks are not only off the page. Stein is known for his unique choice of narrators. A Sudden Light is told from the perspective of a 14 year old boy as his adult self looks back on his experience. Stein’s best-selling novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, also has an unconventional narrator: A dog. Whether Stein’s risks result in a sunset view from the top of a tree or beautiful and original prose, they always pay off.
A Sudden Light started with a dream. Stein dreamed of a living house that communicated through creaks and groans. It was haunted by the ghosts of former residents. This house and the Riddell family whose ancestors haunted it first appeared in Stein’s play Brother Jones. After the play was finished, however, he could not get the family out of his mind. He revisits this family in the novel, focusing on 14 year old Trevor Riddell. Set in a mansion overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound, the novel explores the theme of redemption as the characters seek to right the injustices of their ancestors. Stein includes ghosts and qualities of magical realism to explore the relationship of this family’s past and its future. These qualities are essential to the story and to Stein’s writing in general because, as Stein says, “novels are more powerful if they go beyond a simple representation of the world around us.”
Stein has also directed, edited, and/or produced several award-winning films, including The Lunch Date and The Last Party (starring Robert Downey, Jr). His novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, has sold more than 4 million copies in 35 languages, and has spent more than three years on the New York Times bestseller list. It has inspired both a Young Reader edition, Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog, and a children’s picture book adaptation, Enzo Races in the Rain. The novel is currently in development with Universal Studios to become a major motion picture.
A Seattle native, Stein returned to the Pacific Northwest in 2001 after spending 18 years in New York City. He currently lives there with his wife, three sons, and their dog, Comet. He is the co-founder of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring enthusiasm for reading, especially for those in need.
Check out Garth’s official website!
And listen to the first chapter of The Art of Racing in the Rain on audiobook here!
2016 Festival Events:
Saturday, April 16 7:00pm