Bestselling author Garth Stein talks storytelling in Wauconda

Bestselling author Garth Stein kicked off a presentation about storytelling Thursday morning in Wauconda with a fun exercise.

With suggestions from some of the fifth-graders who had filled the auditorium at Wauconda High School to hear him speak, Stein - whose novel "The Art of Racing in the Rain" recently was adapted as a movie - quickly crafted a tale of a dog who loved to run, became sick, needed medicine and then got better.

"That's a story," Stein told the captivated audience. "That's actually a story."

Stein was in Wauconda this week for public events at the high school and the Wauconda Area Library. He spoke with District 118's fourth-graders earlier in the day and attended a fundraiser for the Wauconda Area Library Foundation at the library Wednesday night.

Another presentation was scheduled for Thursday night at the high school.

Stein's visit was courtesy of the library and its foundation.

Teri Suda, the library's collection coordinator, helped organize Stein's visit and programs. She was understandably excited on Thursday.

"This is such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Suda said. "For our little library community ... it's definitely an accomplishment for us."

In addition to the storytelling exercise, Stein answered questions from the students about writing and his process.

Stein said writers have to overcome distractions such as television and video games.

"You have to make yourself do it," he said.

Stein also talked about the work he's done in other mediums, including stage plays and an upcoming graphic novel called "The Cloven," with art by Matthew Southworth.

He told the kids it's about "mutant goat people" who live under the freeway in Seattle, his hometown.

"I just enjoy telling stories," Stein said. "And whatever medium that takes is good by me."

  Author Garth Stein ("The Art of Racing in the Rain"), left, held two sessions with Wauconda Unit School District 118 students at Wauconda High School Thursday talking about stories, books and writing. Paul Valade/
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