The same night my favorite fiction author and NYT bestseller, Garth Stein, was hosting a booksigning at the St. Louis County Library, I was one of 65 authors hosting a multi-author booksigning at a local library.
I told few friends about the Garth Stein event.
One such friend, Diana, met me at the library. Diana’s love of authors (in general) amazes me. It probably far surpasses mine, since I’m zoned in to certain genres. Not Diana. She’s like a cat, wide-eyed, adventurous and eager to learn about all. I’d thought she’d appreciate this booksigning.
As we settled into our seats with our new purchase, A Sudden Light, we anxiously awaited Garth’s arrival. As I spun around, I eyed probably at least a 100 people or more.
He mentioned how his first 2 books won awards. In spite of the accolades, he didn’t sell many copies. His next manuscript was told from the perspective of a dog (smarter than humans, of course) which was soon nixed by his literary agent.
Garth fired him over the phone.
By coincidence, Garth found another agent through an author friend at a networking event. This agent believed in Garth and loved the book’s concept. The Art of Racing in the Rain went on to sell more than 4 million copies, and stayed on the NYT bestsellers list for over 3 years. Garth took time to properly market the book, traveling and speaking about the book’s message and purpose.
In his new release, A Sudden Light, Garth promised this book to be even better than The Art of Racing in the Rain.
When the opportunity presented itself to ask questions of Garth, I jumped at the chance.
“Why did it take so long between books?”
Garth explained that he tried to write the book where the protagonist flashes back to different time periods, and it just wasn’t working. His wife — his best editor and critic, suggested he write the book in chronological order.
Garth went on to pen more than 100,000 words, which took more than 2.5 years. Those years were spent in character development and history — basically the family tree of A Sudden Light. After this undertaking was complete, then and only then, could he begin the actual story.
Wow. I was blown away. Now that’s an author that stands above the rest in my mind! Not worried about the almighty dollar, not worried about what others think. Just following his heart to know what he feels to be right. He’s also cofounder of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit dedicated to getting books to those in need.
I supposed that’s why I enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s my favorite fiction read.
Garth said, “If just one person is touched by what he reads, then I’m happy and I’ve done a good job.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it!”
After his talk, Garth autographed books, and exchanged words with his fans.
Diana and I headed to a local restaurant for dinner, and chatted about the fun evening. During dinner, I opened my copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain and turned to the page Garth signed.
I smiled as I read the words, “Sheree, somewhere the zebra is dancing.”
That he is, Garth, that he is….