From the interview:
ROYAL YOUNG: I grew up in the ’90s and so related to how your book opens with no cell phones. Why did you pick that time right before Internet and cell phones?
GARTH STEIN: The early ’90s were so [about] that one guy you knew who had a cell phone but it was this giant brick he carried around and never used because it cost too much with the roaming charges. Why have it if you never use it? It was that era that still had an air of innocence. Our innocence was swallowed by the Internet.
I also wanted Trevor, my main character, to feel isolated on a lot of levels. He is sort of stuck on this estate and never leaves, except one time where they go to a strange strip mall in Seattle and eat at a Vietnamese restaurant where no one speaks English.
YOUNG: I love the sense of nostalgia with an older narrator looking back on his younger self. What do you think nostalgia does to us? When we yearn for or seek answers from the past how does that drive us?
STEIN: It’s old Trevor narrating about young Trevor learning about his ancestors, so there are many different levels of the past that all influence our present. We must come to terms with our past before we can move forward with our futures. In my books, the search for understanding and reconciling the past is something that is very important. It’s also something only one person really has the ability to accomplish.
Read the entire interview here: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/garth-stein-a-sudden-light/#_