Welcome to Lunchpail Author. I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll like here enough to stick around.

Because you might be curious, let’s dig into what this newsletter is, and what you can expect from it moving forward.

First, I’ll introduce myself, as I, Garrett Francis, am the one in the driver’s seat.

Get to know Garrett Francis

Here’s a picture of me. It was taken on my wedding day—a lovely, lovely day—back in 2022:

In a nutshell, these are the kinds of things I write:

  • Fiction

    • Realistic fiction, mostly, but occasionally with speculative elements

  • Creative Nonfiction

  • Film / TV

  • Children’s Books

  • Craft Essays

It feels silly to include, but in case it’s of use, here’s the third-person bio I supply to those who are interested:

Garrett grew up on a small farm in Michigan and earned his B.A. in Creative Writing from Grand Valley State University. 

In 2012, he co-founded Squalorly, a digital literary journal of the Midwest and served as its nonfiction editor until 2014.

In 2016, founded Orson’s Publishing in 2016, a micro press and served as the press’s sole editor (and designer, and publicist, among other roles) until its closure in 2020, publishing four book-length works by new and emerging authors.

He also founded Orson’s Review in 2017, a digital literary journal that served as a companion to its parent press, publishing fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and photography. He served as the sole editor of Orson’s Review as well, and is proud to have helped bring the work of over 70 international contributors to life.

Today, Garrett lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family. Short works of his have been published in literary journals like Midwestern Gothic, Barely South Review, Whiskeypaper and Monkeybicycle. He keeps a day job and when he isn’t working or writing, he tries to be outside as much as he can—camping, hiking, kayaking, and just generally wandering.

And, here are some kind things that people have said about me and my work:

"A significant talent, fearless, natural, and hard to classify." - David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl

"A power house of a fiction writer. Poetic and raw, imaginative and real, Garrett is blessed with a literary talent that many can only dream of.” -Claudia Befu Ibarra, Story Voyager

"One of the author’s greatest strengths is in writing characters that are truly complex. He never does exactly what you’d expect, and for me, that’s what makes them so human and Francis so good at what he does." -Amazon Reader

"Garrett Francis' fiction isn't only immersive, but is also tremendously cinematic. You literally feel yourself in a spectacular movie." -Nadia Gerassimenko, when hope writes

"When you're looking for something that has a bite." -Ben Woestenburg, The Scribbler

"Excellent fiction writing. Powerful, descriptive, and riveting." -Scott Weinzirl

Finally, because I know that all of that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of what my writing is actually like, here are some of my influences as an author (in no particular order):

Caitlin Horrocks, Cormac McCarthy, Colum McCann, Dave Eggers, N.K. Jemisin, Sean Prentiss, Louise Erdrich, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Daniel Abbott, Celeste Ng, Ursula K. Le Guin, David Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Charles Portis, George Saunders, Alice Walker, Joe Wilkins, Tim O’Brien, James McBride, Colson Whitehead, Viet Thanh Nyugen, Jim Harrison, Raymond Carver, Ann Patchett, Emily St. John Mandel, Adam Johnson, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Annie Dillard

What a Lunchpail Author is

Now that we have who I am out of the way, let’s turn our attention here, to what exactly a Lunchpail Author is…


As I already mentioned, I grew up in Michigan. The Midwest! The Rust Belt! Where “hard work” is celebrated.

And by “hard work,” I mean blue-collar work. Think: the automotive industry. Think: agriculture. Think: honest work done with your hands.

Whether or not you subscribe to that way of life, being there in the middle of it is different. You see what types of things, and what types of people, those around you gravitate toward, the language others use to shape their own identities, and the identities of the communities around them.

“Lunchpail” was one such term.

The first place I heard the term as an adjective was while watching Detroit sports as a child. The Lions, the Pistons, the Tigers or Red Wings, it didn’t really matter. Whichever team, it seemed like you could count on one of the broadcast’s commentators citing one player from the Detroit side as a “lunchpail” guy.

Meaning: despite athletic disadvantages, said player is holding their own against the competition.

Meaning: they overcame said athletic disadvantages by putting in the work, by packing their lunch the night before so they could put in the time and effort necessary to still achieve greatness.

Honestly, it was a term I found to be quite funny. I remember several instances where my father, my brother, and I laughed until our guts hurt over some dummy on television calling yet another short white guy the team’s “lunchpail” guy, or “gym rat.”

I still think it’s kind of funny, all these years later. I’ll joke about it with my father over the phone to this day, when the conversation inevitably veers toward sports. Yet, and maybe this is the funniest bit of it all, I secretly—and now, not so secretly—tuck the adjective away as saying something about me, and where it is I come from.

It’s funny how that happens sometimes.

See, I live in the Pacific Northwest now. Seattle, to be more specific. I’ve lived here for about nine years. And while there are most certainly blue-collar people in the area, and those who might also fit neatly into the “lunchpail” mentality, I’m exposed often to people and environments that are nothing like I experienced throughout my childhood. I’ve worked multiple jobs here in Seattle, for example, and at each one of them I have been complimented upon my work ethic and upon my willingness to do whatever is necessary.

They don’t say “the dirty work,” like a sportscaster would. But that’s what they mean: that I’m willing to put in the time and effort to make sure what needs to get done gets done.

That, for better and for worse, has everything to do with where I come from and how I was raised.

Michigan, yes. Small town, yes. Small farm, yes. Military father, yes.

All of the above.

So yeah, lunchpail. A callback to my roots. But also:


I’ve for many years now clung to the idea that the title of “author” is one to be earned, and sustained, by treating it as a blue-collar practice. And here’s why: stories are essential to human beings as a species.

I truly believe that without them we die.

That might not literally be true today, as it once was (i.e. cave paintings depicting where to find water or where to hunt), but I would argue with confidence that without stories what dies is the soul.

An author’s job, then, as I see it, is not just to entertain, to spin a plot here and there that makes someone “Oooh” or “Ahhh.” People can get that every minute of every day from their fucking algorithms. The author’s job is to show readers something they’ve never seen before, something far below the surface about themselves, something that they might’ve overlooked or something that had to be uncovered.

And that cannot be executed by labeling authorship as your calling and sitting by the window once in a while, waiting for your muse to arrive.

No. I believe that you work at it. You put on your hard hat, if you will. You pack your lunch. You go to work.

Which brings me to the last piece:

9 TO 5

You may also have noticed in my third-person bio that I work a day job. You know, M-F, 9-5. That is, of course, because I cannot pay my bills as an author. This has been true since I graduated college in 2012 with a degree in creative writing, and it does not make me special.

Earning your living as an author isn’t easy. It really isn’t. And if someone in your life told you that it would be, they were lying.

Because of my need for a day job, and because I am also a husband and a father, my opportunities to “go to work” and practice my craft have been whittled down to either very early in the morning, very late at night, or during my employer-allotted lunch break.

I therefore have spent hours and hours and hours literally writing next to my open lunchpail.

Add all of this up and you get: Lunchpail Author.

The When and The Where


You can expect to hear from me every 1-2 weeks. That doesn’t mean, however, that what you’ll be receiving will always be a new creative work. I produce and share as much as I can, but I am of course human. Work—good, high-quality work worth sharing—doesn’t just spew out of me on command.

If I have a longer break upcoming, I’ll do my best to communicate that to you, and will look to fill in gaps by sharing with you work on Substack that I think you’ll fancy.


Work of mine will be delivered to your inbox and/or via the Substack app.

Get more from Garrett Francis in the Substack app
Available for iOS and Android

Subscribe to Lunchpail Author

Fiction, creative nonfiction, screenplays and more from Garrett Francis, a lunchpail author based in the Pacific Northwest.


I write fiction, creative nonfiction, screenplays and more. Books include And in the Dark They Are Born and Strays Like Us. Several works in progress, as usual. Based in the Pacific Northwest.