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|Title: Bastille Day|
By: Greg Garrett
Vendor: Paraclete Press
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
|Weight: 10 ounces|
Stock No: WW607515
Author: Greg Garrett
Located in: Austin
Submitted: March 28, 2023
Tell us a little about yourself. I'm a writer, professor, and preacher based at Baylor University in Texas and the Canon Theologian at the American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris, France. This is my fifth novel--my last was The Prodigal, with Brenning Manning--and I write about religion, race, politics, and culture, with recent books on race and film, the afterlife in literature and culture, and a book-length set of conversations with Rowan Williams. I'm deeply in love with my wife Jeanie, and helping raise our daughters Lily and Sophia in Austin, Texas.
What was your motivation behind this project? I began this book in 2017. I was reflecting on the Bastille Day terror attack in Nice, but also on a couple of characters who were taking shape in my mind, two people from very different backgrounds who fall for each other in Paris. I was a journalist and married a journalist, so it seemed natural to make my narrator Calvin Jones a war correspondent, which brought in the Iraq War and a whole history that could have happened to him there. I joke to my creative students that fiction writers are called to make terrible things happen to their characters, but it's not really a joke. The more broken they are, the more interesting characters are, and Cal has plenty to overcome.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? Bastille Day is, at the same time, a love story, a story about fathers and sons, a story about friendship, and a story about how to live, love, and have hope and faith in a world where terrible things happen. One of my beliefs as a fiction writer is that I want my characters and readers to wind up in a different, better place as a result of the journey we go on together. By setting the story in Paris, I trust that readers will enjoy a setting that lends itself to some of these adventures
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? During the five years I was actively writing, we had political discord, division, Pandemic, recession, mass shootings, and a multitude of troubling events that shook me and most of the people who will read the book. I told an interviewer that I think I personally needed to recapture my sense of hope in the future--and lean deeply into my faith. A novelist, James Baldwin said, is different from a preacher, who mostly knows what he or she intends to say from the pulpit. Novelists ask big questions that they maybe don't know the answer to when they began. I needed to see what was still worth living for: love, faith, justice, friendship.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? Bastille Day has a number of literary influences: Ernest Hemingway is mentioned often, the ending is consciously modeled on the ending of Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and the themes of fear and love are James Baldwin's great fictional themes. The movies Casablanca and La La Land helped shaped the plot. And I listened to a playlist of music every time I wrote or revised: Mumford and Sons, U2, Phoebe Bridgers, Faure, Durufle, Matthew Perryman Jones. Some are Christian, some are not, but all of them are talking about love and hope and how we overcome sadness. And the epigraph comes from Bruce Hornsby's "Fortunate Son," one of my favorite of his songs.
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: I've written four earlier novels about people so broken by their pasts that the future seems, at best, hazy, and at worst, threatening. Bastille Day is about people who are lost and trying to find their way, which is of course one of the central stories of our faith, as well as the concept that hope is not only possible but necessary, one of the central theological tenets of our faith. As a fiction writer and as a Christian I believe in hope--that whatever may be happening in our life and in our world at a given moment, we are loved, known, and will never be abandoned by the God who gave us life. I couldn't go on--as a writer or as a human being--if I didn't believe that completely.
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