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Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
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Wally Lamb: November 23-27

[ Edited ]

Please help us welcome Wally Lamb to Center Stage this week.  We have much to be thankful for!
 
Wally Lamb is the author of three previous novels, most recently the New York Times and National Bestseller, The Hour I First Believed. His previous works of fiction, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were both number one New York Times bestsellers and selections of Oprah’s Book Club. Lamb edited Couldn't Keep It To Myself and I’ll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for the past nine years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. The Lambs are the parents of three sons.

Wishin' and Hopin' is Lamb's hilarious new Christmas release - pick up a copy and spend some time reminiscing about those thoughts you had as a kid and laughing yourself silly.This from Harper Collins:

 

Wally Lamb delivers a holiday treat with Wishin' and Hopin'—an unforgettable novella that captures the warmth and joy of the holiday season. Poignant and hilarious, in a vein similar to Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story and David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries, Lamb’s Christmas tale focuses on a feisty parochial school fifth grader named Felix Funicello—a distant cousin of the iconic Annette!

 

Stephanie
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babzilla41
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Welcome Mr. Lamb.   I am a huge fan, have read all of your books, and always eagerly await your next venture.  I just received Wishin and Hopin in the mail - it certainly looks like a departure from your other writings. I can't wait to read it!

 

Are you still offering writing workshops at the women's prison?

 

Also, do you have any type of formal background in psychology? 

 

Last question, for now... was it difficult for you to write The Hour I First Believed and were the characters hard to let go of when you finished writing?   The Columbine shootings and their affect are a very emotional/sad subject. 

 

barb

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Redcatlady
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Registered: ‎10-30-2006
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Dear Mr. Lamb:

 

I'm wondering -- are you continuing Delores's story in the future?

 

Redcatlady

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Wally_Lamb
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Hey, Barb--Thank you for your kind words about my work. Yes, I'm still running the workshop for the women at York Prison, along with my two co-facilitators, Susan and Careen. This is my tenth year as a volunteer there. Over this long stretch of time, I think I may have learned more from my students than they've learned from me. What they taught me about the incarceration of women certainly informed the second half of The Hour I First Believed. I have no formal background in psychology, but I do have a life-long interest in the subject, going all the way back to my childhood in Norwich, CT, which housed the largest state facility for the mentally ill. When I was a kid, the "crazy people" walking the grounds there fascinated me. Yes, The Hour I First Believed was my most difficult novel to write. The young men who perpetrated the Columbine tragedy frightened and bewlidered me, both as a former high school teacher and a (then) father of teenage sons. I was also intimidated by the scope of the story, which extends back from ther present to the Civil War. But persistence paid off. By the end, I saw clearly how the past informed the present and how I could weave it all together. Thanks for some great questions, and Happy Thanksgiving.


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Wally_Lamb
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Dear Redcatlady--As of this writing, I have no pplans to continue Dolores's story, but she does make a cameo appearance (as Dolores Kitchen) in The Hour I First Believed. So if you're looking for a Dolores update, you can find one there. And who knows: maybe sometime in the future, she'll start calling to me again, as she did way back in the 1980s when I started She's Come Undone.


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babzilla41
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Do you have anything in the works right now or are you taking a break?

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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GreenFairyLV
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

I love She's Come Undone.  When I read the last page, I flipped back to the front and started reading it again.  I've never done that before and I revisit that book ever so often.  I am constantly on the look out for a first edition.

 

I was wondering did you have different endings for it ?  Was the ending of the book the original ending?

 

 

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babzilla41
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27


GreenFairyLV wrote:

I love She's Come Undone.  When I read the last page, I flipped back to the front and started reading it again.  I've never done that before and I revisit that book ever so often.  I am constantly on the look out for a first edition.

 

I was wondering did you have different endings for it ?  Was the ending of the book the original ending?

 

 


GreenFairyLV:  check out this site for 1st edition:  http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=503386467&searchurl=an%3DWally%2BLamb%26bi%3Dh%26fe...

 

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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mandafink
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

I have just been introduced to Wally Lamb, and I read I know This Much Is True and She's Come Undone this month.

 

What helped portray a young girl so well in She's Come Undone?

I've had similar feelings growing up, and he hit the nail on head.

 

 

I loved I know This Much Is True, because I was born with a cleft lip(like the characters mother) and he knew how people with cleft lips felt.

He's an amazing author, and can reach a wide viariety of readers.

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GreenFairyLV
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Thanks babzilla41 for the link. :smileyhappy:

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Wally_Lamb
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Hello, everyone! First off, an apology for not responding to your questions yesterday. It was an extremely busy day, mid-book tour: TV and radio interviews and then a reading/signing that went on for several hours. To make up for not being with you yesterday, I'll do two sessions today. Thanks for understanding!

 

Yes, I am at the starting gate of a new novel, researching and writing about the story rather than writing the story itself. As with The Hour I First Believed, I've begun with a prospective title: We Are Water. (With She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, I didn't have the titles until I had finished the first drafts.) I'm not sure what that title will come to mean and have to immerse myself in the characters' lives to find out. I'm always envious of novelists who have the entire story plotted before they write the first sentence, but that's not the way it works for me. My writing process is all about exploration. I also have the main character's name, I think--Orion--but that's subject to change. After my book tour ends and the holidays are behind us, I'll be working full-time on novel #5. Wish me luck.


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Wally_Lamb
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Thanks for your kind words about Dolores's story. I'm glad to hear that it's held up to multiple readings. I still get many letters about that novel, which was published way back in 1992, and sometimes people will ask me what Dolores is doing now, how she is, etc. It's always interesting to hear about the ways in which my characters resonate with readers. Although I wrote that story from Dolores's viewpoint, I felt very parental toward her. I came to think of her as a daughter that I worried about but could never quite control. As for your question about the story's ending, the main thing that was undecided during the writing was whether or not Dolores was going to become pregnant and have the baby she longed for. It wasn't until I wrote the closing chapter that I knew that that was not going to happen for her and her husband, Thayer. I was disappointed but felt that if I'd tried to give Dolores a happily-ever-after ending, it just wouldn't have rung true to me. Still, pregnancy or no pregnancy, by the end of the story, Dolores has come to terms with the family she was given and created the family that she needed. A book reviewer named Susan Larsen (The New Orleans Times-Picayune) once described Undone that way and I've always loved the way she put it. As for first editions, keep searching. They're floating around out there. From time to time at readings, people will have me sign them. Thanks for your question.


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Wally_Lamb
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

I'm happy to hear that my characters rang true to you. I was a chubby kid growing up, so that gave me some insight into the way Dolores's size influenced her inner and external life. As a high school teacher, I worked with many teenage girls (and boys) who were vulnerable, insecure, and wrestling with identity issues. I didn't pattern Dolores after any one student, but she's a composite of many of the former students I came to know. I'm so glad that my depiction of the Birdsey brothers' mom seemed accurate to you. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


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Stephanie
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

When I found my first Wally Lamb book, I was a disillusioned reader - I was reading a book a day, it seemed, and went to my local Barnes & Noble bookstore looking for something meaty that I could spend some time reading and really immerse myself in another world.  I found I Know This Much Is True which looked like it could have a second life as a weapon after I finished reading it, so I brought it home and settled in.  Of course, I could not read it slowly and savor it, so I raced through it in three days.  I loved every word, and now all of Wally's books have places of honor on my shelves. 

 

When I got my copy of Wishin' and Hopin' I knew I was going to read it in one sitting, so I made sure I was super comfortable, sitting on the back patio with a glass of tea on a sunny day.  (It is Florida, after all.)  I had a great afternoon, the kids didn't interrupt too much, except to ask, "What are you laughing so hard about, Mom?"  They weren't really worried, they've already decided that I'm to be ignored while reading. 

 

Wally- can't thank you enough for this one. You spoke of a book's ability to be reread- well this is going to be an annual reread.  I'm guessing you made yourself laugh a time or two - without giving too much away, can you tell me what made you laugh hardest?

Stephanie
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Wally_Lamb
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Well, hello, Stephanie--Once again, I've blown my promise not to overeat on Thanksgiving and here I sit, whoozy from turkey and pumpkin pie (and, at our holiday table, antipasto) but ready to respond. First off, it's pretty impressive that you knocked off my 900+ page novel about the Birdsey brothers in 3 days--must be some kind of record! As for which Wishin' & Hopin' character cracked me up the most, that would be Zhenya Kabakova, the feisty and foul-mouthed Russian student who rocks the sedate but strict world of St Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School. I had a ball concocting Zhenya's dialogue and it's been such fun performing her scenes during readings. For the first time since my novels have been published, I read/performed the audio book, which was released simultaneously with the novella. When I was recording it this summer at a studio in NYC, the engineer/director and I were cracking up whenever we came to Zhenya's scenes. If Wishin' & Hopin' becomes one of your holiday traditions, I'll be honored! Happy holidays to you and everyone you love, Stephanie. 


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Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
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Re: Wally Lamb: November 23-27

Wally - I am so glad that you were able to visit with us this week.  I know a holiday week is always busy.   I, unfortunately, have been fighting with both of my computers all week. 

 

I think I neglected my children when I read I Know - If I remember correctly, it was the summer of '01, which would have put them at five and two! They were self-sufficient tykes even then.  I read She's Come Undone immediately after, and loved Dolores' story.  The scene at the beach about did me in.

 

I was pretty impressed by Zhenya Kabakova, too. Great attitude.  I loved the way you  wrote her accented speech.  I think the moment I laughed the loudest (and probably caused great distress to my dog, who is started by loud noises- shuttle landed today and gave him fits) was when felix told his joke on TV  - the one he didn't understand. 

 

Well, now I have to have the audio book.  I'm so glad you did that yourself- I can't imagine anyone else getting it exactly right.  Another item for my Christmas list.

 

Happy Holidays to you and yours as well- I can't wait to read your next work.

 

Stephanie