Before Garry Craig Powell became a writing professor at UCA, he taught the English language overseas in Spain, Portugal, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.
Powell, 58, was born in England and received his Bachelor’s degree in History, Archeology & Anthropology from Cambridge Unitersity. In 1988, he came to the U.S. to pursue his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and in 2004, Powell started working at UCA.
Powell’s “Stoning the Devil,” a novel about a literature professor living in the United Arab Emirates was published last year in August. He said his experience teaching in the UAE helped provide material for his book.
What was the writing process like for your novel, ‘Stoning the Devil’?
“It took me four or five years to write it and you can see that it’s a little book — only 150 pages. The book is the collection of stories that linked together [to]make one big story. Though it seems simple when you read it, I think, it was difficult to plan and to get all the stories in the right order and [to]make sure that they have a connection.”
What was your experience like teaching overseas?
“For me, teaching ESL — English as the second language — [courses]was a more mechanical kind of teaching, more repetitive than what I am doing now. But it was not always bad. It gave me an opportunity to travel a lot. The place I liked teaching best was Poland. The students were very, very good.”
What’s the most influential book that you have read?
“[It] may be ‘The Alexandria Quartet’ by Lawrence Durrell, because that is set in Egypt. It is about the collision of Western culture with the Arab culture. That had a lot of influence on me.”
What author, dead or alive, would you like to meet?
“I suppose it would have to be Shakespeare. I think Shakespeare is probably the greatest genius.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
“I got two pieces of advice, basically. First, read a lot and read quality books. Don’t read rubbish about vampires and zombies. Read the great books. And, write a lot. You lean to write by reading and writing.”
Do you have a life motto?
“Not really. I never actively had a motto, but I suppose that more or less is my motto. I always try to be true to myself without worrying too much about what other people think of me. I have tried to be free. I have tried to live as a free man going where I want, doing what I want, speaking openly and without fear about