Q&A with Scott Hutchins, SF's Most Exciting New Novelist
Arkansas-bred Scott Hutchins is no stranger to the Bay Area literary scene. A former fellow in Stanford's prestigious Wallace Stegner creative writing program, he now teaches at the university (and works down the hall from legendary author Tobias Wolff). He's contributed local publications like San Francisco magazine and The Rumpus, the latter of whose founder, Stephen Elliott, he considers a mentor and friend.
A Working Theory of Love, which Hutchins has been crafting for nearly half a decade, tells the story of a disaffected 30something man recovering from a divorce who explores the meaning of relationships through a computer that channels the voice of his dead father.
We sat down with San Francisco's hottest new novelist to find out his favorite places to find inspiration around town, his own working theory of love, and just how much of the story is actually based on his life.
Where did the idea for A Working Theory of Love come from? I'm not sure that I can be honest and accurate in this answer...but here's what I think. I knew I wanted to write about life in San Francisco, particularly about being a bachelor in San Francisco. I was also fascinated in this idea of what makes us human, what is consciousness. That led me towards the computer science stuff.
San Francisco plays such an important role in your book. Did you do this on purpose? Kind of like my main character, this is the scene of my adult life. I was interested in looking at what life is like here, the little daily observations I was making, and finding a way to weave that into something. San Francisco is the most abstract, aspirational place that I can think of. I definitely wrote about it on purpose; I didn't just stumble into the setting.
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