From 2006-2007 I took a three-quarter literary fiction course through the UW extension program. It was taught, and taught extremely well, by a writer named Scott Driscoll.
In the summer of 2007 I considered whether or not to continue on to the second-year program, and for a variety of reasons decided against it. One of the reasons was that there was a lot of uncertainty about who would actually teach the course. The original guy signed up to teach was a local Seattle writer named Garth Stein, who had published some stuff and gotten pretty good critical press.
However, as I was hemming and hawing, e-mailing Garth with some questions about the class, he went dark. It turns out that right at that moment a big publisher picked up the rights to his book for major dollars. Not sure how many zeros he got but it was a lot. So, he opted to not teach the second year Lit Fic class in favor of lucrative book tours, etc. etc.
This morning I walk into a Starbucks in Bellevue and who do I see featured prominently on the shelf but Garth Stein? Congratulations, Garth, you just hit the 2nd-best writer’s lottery on the planet (Oprah would be first).