Are you as excited as we are about bestselling author Wally Lamb's newest novel? We Are Water is the affecting story of a Connecticut family in upheaval as its wife and mother leaves and plans to marry a successful businesswoman. Read Wally's post about the inspiration and writing process behind the book, now available on NOOK.
You might say that We Are Water began in a radio station in my hometown of Norwich, CT, where I was promoting my just-finished comic novella Wishin’ & Hopin’. “So what’s next for Wally Lamb?” the announcer asked, and not wanting to appear dopey by revealing my lack of plan, I improvised. “I’m thinking of writing about the flood,” I said. If you’re from Norwich, you know that theflood refers to the devastation caused when, in 1963, the collapse of a dam unleashed millions of gallons of water on the city, destroyed the shopping district, and took five lives. I was a 12-year-old eyewitness to the horrors that night.
My inspiration for the title came in 2007 when my wife, Chris, and I attended a performance of the musical “Ten Million Miles,” which featured a Patty Griffin song titled “We Are Water.” I liked the alliterative sound of the phrase and scrawled it on the front of my playbill. What does that mean?, I kept wondering: We are water? I started writing the novel to find out. Usually I title my stories after they’re finished. This time, the title came first.
We Are Water ended up being a multi-voiced story about a family and a nation in transition. It’s 2009. Barack Obama is in the first year of his presidency, the State of Connecticut has recently legalized gay marriage, and Orion and Annie Oh’s twenty-seven year marriage has ended because Annie, a successful outsider artist, has fallen in love with Viveca, her champion in the art world and her bride to be. As the wedding approaches, it elicits a variety of responses from ex-husband Orion, a university psychologist, and the Ohs’ three grown children: earnest do-gooder Ariane, her born-again twin brother Andrew, and the twins’ wild card younger sister Marissa. Likewise, the impending ceremony pries open a Pandora’s box of toxic secrets that have festered beneath the surface of the Ohs’ lives. In this, my fifth novel, I explore the themes of class, race, evolving social mores, and the origins and purpose of art. As were my earlier novels, this story is an exploration of power and powerlessness and their effect on flawed but humane characters.
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