1. Do you admire your own work?
I’m not sure if I would use that exact word, but there are parts of it I like, maybe about ten percent. A lot of writing is structural, developing a character or moving the story along, but there are long and straight stretches that allow a writer to go full throttle. Those short bursts of speed are why I write for the most part, and I like reading them after they’re done.
2. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Sure. A lot of it. Every six months or so I look back at some writing and get a little embarrassed.
3. If you were ruler of the world, what laws would you make?
I’m not sure how to put it into law, but I would try to find a way to curb greed. It has to be the most destructive force within the human race. All war and violence know it as its root.
4. Would you break a law to save a loved one?
Absolutely and with impunity, almost all of them. The highest law is family, everything else is just window-dressing.
5. Is there a message in your writing you want the readers to grasp?
I work along two themes for the most part. The first is human fallibility and the second is failure. Can’t remember the exact lyrics to the song, but it says, ‘let the bad guy win every once in a while.’ More writers need to do that. It shouldn’t be an exception in writing, because it sure as hell isn’t in life. The bad guys win at least half of the time. A quick look around the world can tell you that.
6. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Hard to nail down one, so I’ll talk about two. The first is Charles Bukowski, because he talks about what most people won’t. His ‘novels’ are autobiographical, and he really lays it bare, showing himself in a bad light. For instance, I remember him writing about being unemployed, staying at his parents’ house, and masturbating twice during the day instead of going out and looking for a job. Most writers would have either left that out, or made up some BS to replace it.
Right now I’m reading Wally Lamb’s ‘We Are Water,’ which is great for a couple of reasons. He has long stream of consciousness narratives from multiple perspectives. I think that’s a really risky kind of endeavor because it can easily veer off into the mundane, the unreadable. But he always pulls it off. Also and again, he will go where others won’t. He writes in a first-person female narrative that talks about a girl keeping matches in her purse to cover the stink after she goes to the bathroom.
7. What was your favorite subject at school?
Politics. It always got my juices flowing. I find immense joy in arguing a minority opinion. I feel most alive when outnumbered.
8. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
My advice is to not take advice, and to write clearly. I know with Google, eventually everyone’s going to go looking, but at least don’t take it too seriously. If you are very good at what you do, exceptions will always be made anyway.
Plus, a lot of advice is conflicting. Some will say to write how you speak. Others will tell you that English is a vast language and must be utilized to the fullest. I guess one of those people has to be wrong.
9. Is any of your writing based on real life experiences or is it all imagination?
I’d say it’s about fifty fifty. Even if you’re going to create an entire alternative universe, character interaction is going to be experiential. There’s no real way around that.
Not all of ‘real life’ has to be stuff that actually happened, either. For instance, everyone’s had an argument and realized what they should have said. You can write that later. It’s your second chance.
10. What sort of environment do you write in?
I have a small study at my house, and that’s where I do most of my writing. I live on the 18th floor of an apartment building in Shenzhen, China, and out my window is a huge reservoir. At night, in the summer, there are thousands of frogs loudly mating on the ground below.
I also write in a bar once a week, on Saturday after work. There are usually two other people in that bar when I go in there, which is just the way I like it.
Honestly, if I’ve got an electrical supply and the internet, it really doesn’t matter where I am, just as long as it’s relatively quiet.
11. Are you scared of sharing a story idea because someone might steal it?
Not really. I continually grow as a writer. I’m twice as good as I was a year ago. I’m sure that exponential won’t last forever, but I’ll always get better. Steal something from me now and I’ll write something better later. Do yourself a favor and steal when I’m dead.
12. How do you deal with brilliant ideas that pop up while you’re writing something else?
I’ve always got two or three things going at once, so I don’t worry about that too much. I’ll write a lead of a good idea and mark it in my writing folder. If I’m having trouble with a novel, or just getting bored with it, I’ll go on to something else for a while.
13. Have you ever been cow tipping or snipe hunting?
I went cow tipping once in high school. We were approaching the cows, at about two in the morning, when they started to charge us. Maybe they’d been tipped before?
Anyway, that one experience was enough for me. I prank called a lot, though. Actually, I was arrested for that twice in high school – prank calling.
Our pranks were huge productions. We had four people on different lines involved, with semi-scripted dialog. Wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
14. If you had to give up one sense, which one would you give up and why?
Taste. It’s probably a hindrance anyway. Imagine how much your diet could improve without it.
You can check out Garrett's work online:
An arrow in flight, stone head landing. The flesh, prone to compromise, letting go at near-silence. The beast falls, arrested, blood growing fast around the shaft, and after that, pooling down. Drip, drip, drip. The creature at four knees, four tracks digging in the earth, born of momentum. The animal dying, eyes open, staring at the sun for the first real time. Its eyes stay open, and within a minute, the first fly lands, gripping at the wet.
These are a collection of wrong thoughts to ponder at the pivotal time, but they happen. They come about like the sweat, which is neither asked for nor needed, but collects at the temple, as the boy pulls back the bow. It won’t sting the eyes because he won’t let it. The boy adjusts his mind, but this doesn’t help. His thoughts jump to his breathing, which loudens at the notice. Now a river flows through his ears, and a drum beats behind the eyes. He un-focuses his gaze, a last resort, for the beast will soon move, and a moving target is more difficult.
The blur does the trick. The boy creates for himself a goal which consciousness cannot address in its nature. The body must work alone again. The eyes refocus, and within that second, the boy releases. The arrow flies. When his reason recovers, he is but a witness. Colors, then shapes, then consciousness. As his mind puts the pieces together, agency is assigned. I shot that, he thinks, but not for long. A soft thump of resigned flesh, and the lion is felled through the neck. Forward it falls to its knees, and dies.
Garrett was born in Quincy, Illinois. He attended high school there and not much happened until he joined the army at 27.
After going attending college with his gubment money, he was awarded a scholarship to study Mandarin in Shenzhen, China, in 2007. In 2009, he was called back to the army, after being out for four years, to serve in Afghanistan.
Since 2011, he has taught English, again in Shenzhen, China, and has written religiously.
No one has published him. He often annoys his friends on Facebook with prose, which garners few likes and silent scorn. Garrett does not fear the future, however. He knows that he will one day make it, and that each revolution of failure is but a layer in the cocoon of his success. ‘Bring on the tedium,’ he has been heard to say, ‘neath a cavalcade of loud typing.