Greg Garrett teaches creative writing, literature, film and theology at Baylor University. He is the author of the novels Free Bird, Cycling, and Shame as well as several books about religion. You can find out more about Greg’s work by visiting his website.
Greg will be teaching “Beginning at the Beginning” and “Ending at the Beginning” as part of WLT’s Novel Writing Class Series next month. Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.
Scribe: What motivated you to be a writer?
Greg Garrett: I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to tell stories. My grandmother has a file of stories I wrote and illustrated when I was four, all about firemen and clowns. I guess I’ve always wanted to tell stories about people who rescued other people–and who made them laugh.
Scribe: Who is your ideal audience?
GG: I write first and foremost for myself. I feel as though if I don’t delight myself, there’s little or no chance I’ll touch anyone else with the stories I want to tell. But once I’ve delighted myself, I can honestly say that I am writing for every person willing to open her or himself up to the possibility of wonder. I hope that people from various places, people with various beliefs, and people from all classes will find something powerful and universal in the stories I write.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with WLT?
GG: Over the years, I’ve discovered that the desire to tell stories seems to be, if not universal, at least so widespread as to boggle the mind. I’ve taught and interacted with hundreds of writers at WLT events, and their passion to write inspires me. It also reminds me of all the more established writers who saw some spark of ability in me and encouraged me–my favorite thing about working with the WLT is giving something back in honor of all those who helped me.
Scribe: What author would you want to have a beer/ cup of coffee with?
GG: I loved Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris because it felt like I was having a beer with all those folks–Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso. I’ve been lucky enough to actually interact with some great writers, but I think if given the chance, I’d want to sit down with that most reclusive author of all, Cormac McCarthy, and talk with him about life, writing, and everything else. In my fantasy, we’d talk late into the night, and a considerable amount of alcohol would be consumed. And I’d wake the next morning with a pounding hangover from the whiskey, and from the searching intelligence that I imagine Cormac McCarthy must be.
Scribe: What do you prefer to write; Novels or screenplays? Why?
GG: I’ve written some screenplays, and teach screenplay writing, but I learned long ago that I’m most interested in the human heart, and I think that to explore it properly, one must be a novelist. Film shows you exteriors–the novel can take you into a person’s mind, and into her or his past. Maybe some day I’ll produce a screenplay worthy of production, but my heart will always be in novel-writing.
You can learn more and register for the Novel Writing Class Series here.