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Garth Stein, author of Raven Stole the Moon (May 17-30)

Author Chat

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Edited: May 17, 2010, 8:50am Top

Please welcome Garth Stein, author of Raven Stole the Moon. Garth will be chatting on LibraryThing until May 28th.

May 17, 2010, 9:31am Top

Welcome Garth!
I read "The Art of Racing in the Rain" twice, once as a reader and once (well I tried) as a fellow author. The second read through was to see how you managed such a seamless construction... but I got lost in the story, again. I look forward to reading your other books.
Carol Newman Cronin
author of "Oliver's Surprise" and (coming July 2010) "Cape Cod Surprise."

May 17, 2010, 9:45am Top

I just want to tell you how very much I enjoyed "The Art of Racing in the Rain". I have receommended this book to everyone I know; and am always telling total strangers who pass by it in a bookstore "you must read this book". I read so many books that few stick with me in detail - this was one of the few exceptions. I have to ask if you are a big dog lover? I also enjoyed "Raven Stole the Moon", but must say the story was not as seamless as "The Art of Racing in the Rain". I look forward to your next novel.

May 17, 2010, 11:04am Top

I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain! I have recommended it to several people. I've added Raven Stole the Moon to my "to read" list.

May 17, 2010, 11:26am Top

I read The Art of Racing in the Rain for our Library Book Club and loved the book immensely. I have since purchased a copy of the book for my mother-in-law to read and I recommend the book quite often to my friends.

I just wanted to say what a wonderful book you wrote and look forward to reading your other books as I add them to my wishlist.

May 17, 2010, 2:02pm Top

Hey, thanks everybody. I look forward to chatting with you over the next couple of weeks.


May 17, 2010, 2:53pm Top

Garth, Just had to tell you that as a dog lover The Art of Racing in the Rain was one of the best books I've ever read and I'm 58 years old so I've read quite a few. Keep up the excellent work.

May 17, 2010, 4:07pm Top

Mr. Stein,
I absolutely loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. It was one of those books that I couldn't put down. The story being told by Enzo was perfect. I love hearing the story through his perspective. I am not usually overly emotional while reading, but have to tell you that I cried so hard at the end of the book. You are a very good story teller.

I first saw the book at Starbucks and picked it up while waiting for my coffee. I stood there and read for 15 minutes and decided I needed to buy the book. I told one of my girlfriends about it and she did the same thing and we loved it so much we decided to make it our book club pick. Our entire book club loved it too. I bought another copy to give to my Mom for Christmas and currently have my neighbor reading it too.

May 17, 2010, 8:37pm Top

Hi Garth,

I'm Dogless, at the moment, though in light of Racing I'm wondering what my cat Eddie is thinking!!


May 17, 2010, 9:05pm Top

Loved The Art of Racing in the Rain....have told many people about it.

May 18, 2010, 6:47am Top

Hi Garth. Thanks so much for Enzo. I adore the book.

I'm wondering, does it end the way you'd always intended? Did you always plan to give us a sneak peek of Enzo's next life? How much did the whole story change from your original plan, whatever that was?


May 18, 2010, 8:07am Top

Hello, I echo other comments here. "The Art of Racing in the Rain" stayed with me when many others don't. I read about 10 books a month, but I still think fondly of how much I enjoyed this particular book. I've purchased a couple copies to give to 2 of my kids. Glad to know you have another and am looking forward to reading it. What dogs are in your life now?

May 18, 2010, 10:05am Top

I love The Art of Racing in the Rain I read it in 24 hours, I could not put it down. It had to be read.

One of the things I loved about it was how Seattle & the Northwest worked so well as a backdrop for the story.

As a parent of a young boy, I wondered what books made an impression on you growing up? What do you wish more kids read?
And for the grown ups - what are you reading these days yourself?

Edited: May 18, 2010, 12:37pm Top

Hello Mr. Stein.

I recently read Raven Stole the Moon and plan to read The Art of Racing in the Rain soon. (Can't stop hearing how great it is from everyone).

I know that Raven was your first book but it got rereleased recently. Did you go back and rewrite anything in Raven for the rerelease? Was it strange to revisit your first book again? Do you have another book in the works?

Thank you.

May 18, 2010, 6:05pm Top

I really enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain.I've recommended to everyone that I know with dogs.If we only knew what there thinking.

Edited: May 18, 2010, 8:08pm Top

jenniferbee: The book originally ended with Enzo running off into the golden fields at the end of Chapter 58. The epilogue was added later, after I had fired my agent, spent months looking for a new agent, and had the thought: hey, maybe nobody gets this because they don't believe dogs can think! Maybe if he's already in doggie heaven and he's a doggie angel, they'll all get it. Surely doggie angels can think human thoughts. Of course, how does that version end? With Enzo being reincarnated. So I wrote the reincarnation scene and thought it was pretty good. (It became the epilogue.) Then I went back and started writing the whole thing from doggie heaven, and it sucked. So I put it all back the way it was and said, Sink or swim, I'm going with what I've got. But I kept the epilogue....

May 18, 2010, 8:09pm Top

kitkeller: The dog in my life now is Comet. If you go to my website, you can see some pix of her. www.garthstein.com Also, she's the dog who plays Enzo in the short film about the book (which I made)....

May 18, 2010, 8:13pm Top

leadmomma: You should see the backlog of books I have on my desk! I'm reading Carol Cassella's new book now--it's coming out in the fall--called Healer. It's great. I just finished Charlotte's Web for a talk I'm giving next month called: Enzo, Buck and Charlotte: what animals can teach us about being human.

I'm looking forward to reading All About Lulu by Jonathan Evison, and I have Drood on my nightstand. And I've got a stack of books I'm supposed to blurb that is absolutely staggering! I need about three of me to get anything done!

May 18, 2010, 8:15pm Top

Jenners26: I did go through Raven again, just to correct typos. Then I took out about 80% of the curse words. And then I switched the first two chapters to the order I had originally intended.

Yes, it was strange.

I'm working on my new book as we speak!


May 18, 2010, 8:25pm Top

I just wanted to say that as a librarian I recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain all the time. We have recently made it into a book club kit. I listened to it and found it to be so well read and well written. I grew up in a dog-loving, car-racing family and I was amazed at the amount of research that you put into the racing and theory of. I loved this aspect of the book, I found it interesting that friends who read the book that were not interested in cars found all the information did not take away from the story for them. What great writing.
I also have to tell you that at Enzo's passing I was driving through construction and all the workers were looking at me - I am sure they were wondering why I was bawling like a baby!
I am so pleased to put you on my top 10 favorite of all time books.

Edited: May 18, 2010, 11:15pm Top

Fantastic story, cried and cried, and laughed and was happily caught off guard with many of the twists the story took. Thank you for sharing your imagination and story with us. I absolutely loved the end of the book and very, very glad you went with your gut and heart.

I am sorry I don't have a question but I am thrilled to know you have other books for me to read.

Continue to follow your internal guide, it is right on the money!


P.S. our book club read your book and I am sure you will add another ten fans to your club!

May 20, 2010, 12:18pm Top

I'm not sure I am posting this in the correct spot but I just want to say how wonderful it is that an author is so devoted to his readers. I see you on Facebook all the time and the pics that you post of book groups and readings just warms my heart.

As a book blogger, it's important for me to to like what I read but it certainly helps to interact with an author that appreciates his fan base.

May 20, 2010, 1:51pm Top

Are you a racer? We are on the East Coast, so the descriptions of the West Coast tracks were great. I am the reader and my husband is the racecar driver, so I have lots of reading time at tracks. Really enjoyed your "in car" narratives. Have recommended this book to many friends, it helps them understand our "hobby".

May 20, 2010, 5:54pm Top

As a Librarian, I also am constantly recommending your book to patrons and friends. It seems to be one of those books that anyone can read and enjoy.

I especially liked the way Enzo's narrative, while still distinctly being the voice of a dog, was so full of humanity. I think this is why the book can work for so many people.

Did you do any particular excercises to put yourself in the "canine" mindset when writing the book?

May 20, 2010, 7:29pm Top

This is how I feel word for word!

May 21, 2010, 9:30am Top

Garth, I finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain on a plane on my way back from vacation. I sobbed so much my husband was embarrassed. He thought people would suspect him of being mean to me.
It has a happy/sad ending and got me all emotional.
I have recommended this book to many of my friends. My only regret is I only have it in ebook format. I keep books I love displayed proudly on my shelf and this is one I wish I could display.
Thanks for writing one of my favorite books!
Pam Wagner

May 22, 2010, 6:08pm Top

Thank you for taking the time to participate in these chats. I too recently read The Art of Racing in the Rain and loved it. My mother-in-law loved it so much that she actually gave me the book twice!

Besides being a dog lover I really enjoyed the driving descriptions. As a Formula One fan I particularly enjoyed your take on Senna and Schumacher and think you pretty much nailed it on the head. What do you think about Schumacher's return to racing? What are your thoughts on the racing world these days?

Thank you for such a wonderful book!

May 23, 2010, 10:58am Top

As neither a dog nor a racing enthusiast, I admit I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy The Art of Racing in the Rain. However, a co-worker whose book recommendations have always worked in the past loaned me her copy, so I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did. It was such an imaginative story. Where did you get the inspiration for the racing motif? It made the book, and Enzo's perspective, so much more interesting.

May 23, 2010, 2:16pm Top

I loved your book Art of Racing in the Rain. I recommend it all the time to my patrons at the library. I love dogs and racing and I have always believed that dogs think. I certainly believe that my dog Chuckie is the smartest dog I know.

I was wondering how you came up with the story idea? It is such a new and unique concept, that I was wondering how it even came to you.

Keep up the good work. I look forward to see your next book.

May 23, 2010, 6:23pm Top

Thank you for The Art of Racing in the Rain. It is simply beautiful. I feel compelled to tell you (because who wouldn't want to know the fascinating inner workings of my mind : ) that, as a bookseller, I dug in my heels and refused to read your book for the year it was out in cloth. It was being pushed on us from too many directions, and I've had some real drivel touted as "amazing" by the buyers for our company. But I picked it up in paperback (if you're so inclined, you can read my review here: http://thebookfrog.blogspot.com/2009/07/art-of-racing-in-rain-by-garth-stein.htm... ) and I was blown away. The hype was true!

I have since handsold this book to many, many people.

Thank you again. I look forward to your next.

May 23, 2010, 8:57pm Top


I used to race. I don't any more. Takes too much time and energy (and money!). I raced SM for four years out here in SCCA NWR and OR. I loved it, made some great friends. I hope one day to give it another go. Maybe in a Ferrari this time....


May 23, 2010, 9:00pm Top


"Did you do any particular excercises to put yourself in the "canine" mindset when writing the book?"

I've been asked this before, and I must tell you, I never thought I was writing as a dog. I was writing as Enzo. Enzo is a nearly human soul trapped in a dog's body. He wants to be done with this life so he can be reincarnated as a person, but he also loves his family so much, he doesn't want to leave them. That double-bind creates a very rich character, I think.


May 23, 2010, 9:04pm Top


"What do you think about Schumacher's return to racing? What are your thoughts on the racing world these days?"

I was always afraid I might offend Schumacher. He is a great champion, and I have to disavow Enzo's characterization of his personality. Enzo said that, not me!

I think it's fun that Schumi is back in the thick of things. An old dude like him doing well only makes the idea of Denny being a champion more realistic! Seriously, though, to be an F1 driver, one must be an incredibly talented racer. To win as much as Schumi has, one can only be the best of the best....

But Senna was better! ;-)


May 23, 2010, 9:05pm Top

lbradf: "Where did you get the inspiration for the racing motif?"

From my own racing, of course! I was the 2003 points champ in SM class SCCA Northwest Region! (Which just means I showed up to every race.....)


May 23, 2010, 9:07pm Top

kgilson: "I was wondering how you came up with the story idea?"

The first seed for this book was planted in my mind about ten years ago. I was no longer working in documentary films, but a friend asked me to consult on the U.S. distribution of a film he knew about from Mongolia, called "State of Dogs." I took a look at the film and the press material they had on it. I didn't end up getting involved with the film, but the idea really stuck with me. In Mongolia, there is a belief that the next incarnation for a dog is as a man. I thought this was a cool concept and I tucked it away thinking I might some day do something with it.

Then, in 2004, I saw Billy Collins speak at Seattle Arts and Lectures. He's a great poet and a terrific reader. He read a poem, The Revenant, which is told from the point of view of a recently euthanized dog as he addresses his former master from heaven. The poem begins, "I am the dog you put to sleep...come back to tell you one simple thing: I never liked you--not one bit." I loved this poem. When Billy Collins finished reading, I knew I had to write a story from the point of view of a dog. And my dog would know the truth: that in his next incarnation, he would return to earth as a man.

So I had the character and the goal, but I still needed the framework of a story. A close friend of mine, who is a semi-professional race car driver but who supplements his racing by working behind the counter at an upscale automotive repair shop, was going through some personal difficulties. His plight wasn't Denny's, but it gave me some ideas about what happens to families when one member suddenly passes away. I developed a story that would really put my main character, Denny, through his paces, and then it was all there for me.

May 23, 2010, 9:14pm Top

BeckyJG: I did a book group phoner in El Segundo--"I left my wallet in El Segundo. Got to get it, got, got to get it back!"

I'm glad you gave Enzo a chance. I appreciate your wonderful review. And I'm going to post the link on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Maybe I can do an event at your store for my next book?


May 25, 2010, 2:30am Top

Hi Garth!

It's so great to have you here! I can't wait to read your new book!! Can you tell us a little about it?

I recently read, reviewed and hosted a giveaway for Raven Stole the Moon. I really enjoyed it too. I still rate The Art of Racing in the Rain as one of my favorite books ever (loved it!) and had the pleasure of participating in the Barnes & Noble book club that featured you and your book for a whole month. It was amazing and you were so gracious! We were extra lucky to have your wife join us as well. That was the best book club ever!!

Congrats and best wishes!

May 25, 2010, 1:04pm Top

>36 GarthStein: If I were still at the bookstore I would be so honored to have you visit. I'm sure that the new management would be thrilled as well. Garth, do you know Lita Weismann? If not, I can put you in contact with her. She is totally the gal to know when it comes to events at Borders in SoCal (not to mention one of the most well-read, book savvy, and all around nice people I know).


PS Thank you so much for the shout outs on Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps it will help with my readership...

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