Interview with Garth Stein

Author of “The Art of Racing in the Rain”

Dallas, Texas, August 5, 2019


Ron Salfen:  I was curious about the use of Kevin Costner's voice to narrate.  Did you have someone else in mind when you wrote it?

Garth Stein: I didn't know.  I didn't have anybody in mind.  I will say that in the book, Enzo says he sounds like James Earl Jones.  But when I heard that Kevin Costner was going to do it, it was pretty exciting.  He's such an icon, and I immediately watched “Field of Dreams” again and thought “Hey, this is a good choice.”

RS:  I have a grand-dog, myself, and when I take her out on walks, I notice that inside she's a pet, but outside, she's a dog.

GS:  That's a good explanation---to be there for you, in the environment you created, but then outside, it's time to take off that leash and go chase a squirrel, right?

RS:  I think one of the things you really captured was the emotional connection between humans and dogs.  That is so important.

GS:  Yeah, thanks.  It's all about unconditional love, you know.  Dogs don't expect much from us except fresh water and a food bowl.  So you can have a relationship unfettered by expectations.  Whereas with people, there are a lot of expectations for behavior:  “You need to act this way to earn my love. “ So in the name of unconditional love, we should treat each other more like dogs!

RS:  A friend of mine lost her dog last year, and right now she can't abide the thought of getting another one.

GS:  Yeah, I lost mine last year, too.  14 years, the relationship with the kids growing up and all, I haven't been able to get a new one yet, either.

RS:  It's like grieving, isn't it?

GS:  Yeah, one day we'll be able to move forward, but right now we're still just honoring the memory.

RS:  How about that one time in the movie he got really mad at the dog, how does the dog respond?

GS:  Well, when I would yell at mine, she'd go stand behind the kids.

RS:  What are some of your favorite authors?

GS:  John Steinbeck.  Ernest Hemingway.  And that new book, “There, There” by Tommy Orange. But there are so many, it's like asking what's my favorite band.

RS:  Dogs have so many different kinds of scents.  Did you do much research on all that?

GS:  Not so much. There's some stuff in the book that came from research I did years ago, about grand mal seizures, and how dogs could actually smell the different chemical states of the brain, and I found that fascinating.  There are dogs that can smell skin cancer and lung cancer.

RS:  So what's next for you?

GS:  A graphic novel, out next summer.  It's fun.  And then I've got a novel about a couple of old ladies who become new best friends.

RS:  Thanks for your time.  And thanks for the emphasis on unconditional love. 

GS:  Good to meet you.