Most of the world knows Garth Stein as an author. However, those of us in the Northwest who have had greater opportunity to interact with him also know he is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, playwright, awesome dad and excellent cook. His roots run deep in
Seattle, and he has spent ample time in our area as both a child and adult. He’s been part of an insanely successful writers critique group, is a co-founder of the non-profit Seattle7Writers and is a pretty affable guy to hang with.
With his recent release, A Sudden Light, Stein is back in the literary spotlight. On the heels of his international sensation, The Art of Racing in the Rain, readers are once again given a unique narrator, this time in the form of a 14-year-old boy. Stein is known for his rich characters, and beautifully interwoven storylines, and A Sudden Light is an ideal follow-up to his other works. Within the first chapter we’re drawn into a mysterious world and captivated by a clever guide.
As with many of his characters, Stein has lived a fascinating existence. From a young age, he was interested in theater and all things creative. Although born in Los Angeles, he spent his childhood in the Pacific Northwest, which he still calls home. After high school, Stein’s wanderings led him to New York, where he met his wife Andrea (Drella) Perlbinder, now Stein. He lived there for 18 years, finding success in documentary filmmaking, including the award-winning The Lunch Date, which he produced with Adam Davidson. Stein eventually became a full-time writer and had his first two children before making his way back to Seattle in 2001.
Growing up in Innis Arden, a community within Richmond Beach, Stein’s memories are coupled with familial relations. Those memories, and the recent death of his father in 2009, serve as a big catalyst for A Sudden Light. The story explores the dynamics between fathers and sons, something he is familiar with, both as a son, and a father of three sons. The book also entwines history, love, ghosts, mystery and relationships into a page-turning novel.
His list of books includes Raven Stole the Moon, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and of course, A Sudden Light. The Art of Racing in the Rain brought Stein international recognition. The protagonist and narrator, Enzo (a dog), captured a wide audience with his intuitive views. It spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and has sold rights to become a motion picture. It has also been adapted into a youth novel and a picture book.
Stein has found a solid home in the Northwest, with a community that includes independent bookstores, fellow authors, his children, dog and his constant partner and collaborator, his wife.
Stein spent much of the fall on the road to talk about his newest literary accomplishment and the inspiration behind it. He also took the opportunity to share A Sudden Light-themed temporary tattoos and matchbooks. Already, the novel has earned plenty of accolades and positive reviews, and made even more loyal Garth Stein fans. As an author he is approachable, and interacts with his readers in a variety of ways.
He may be a Seattle writing legend in the making, but for those us who have had the chance to sit with him and see him in his regular life, we know that there are a lot more complexities that make him the wonderful and interesting person he is — and that person also happens to concoct intriguing worlds with engaging characters right here in our own backyard. It’s exciting to imagine where Stein’s next book will take us. He did, however, hint at what’s to come with his next project, “I can tell you this: there is a dog and at least one goat.” We look forward to seeing the rest.