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I Got to Meet Wally Lamb!

Oh wow. What a day.

But let me start from the beginning.

First, Wally Lamb is my hands down favorite author. His book, I Know This Much is True, is ALWAYS in my list of favorite books at number one.

After Wally Lamb came out with his third novel, The Hour I First Believed, I thought to myself, “Self, Wally Lamb will probably go on a book tour. And you live in the San Francisco Bay Area! Surely he’ll come here!” Well, Wally Lamb doesn’t have a website, and his little space on HarperCollins doesn’t really tell you much about any appearances he’s making. Now that I look at it, his “On Tour Now” does show his upcoming appearances, but when I looked at it, it didn’t.

So then I thought that I should check out Book Passage, a book store about 45 minutes away that attracts way bigger authors than the one in my area, and guess who I found out was coming to Book Passage?! WALLY LAMB. I think I fell out of my seat. And to make it the most specialist, he was coming to Book Passage three days before my birthday. My 30th birthday. Is that not the most awesome birthday present ever?

So when Dave asked what I wanted for my birthday, I said I wanted one thing and one thing only. And I needed it to come early. I wanted Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed  so I would have it for him to sign. Of course, Dave got me the book, and despite the mixed reviews, I couldn’t stop gazing at the book and stroking the book jacket.

I had three adults and one child with me to go to this event, and I figured since Wally Lamb’s MY favorite author, he must be OTHER people’s favorite author, so surely the place will be packed. So I hurried my friends along, sped along in the carpool lane and arrived at Book Passage at 6:15pm. Wally Lamb was scheduled to start speaking at 7:00pm. The weird thing was that the place wasn’t already packed. I would have stood in line for HOURS to hear him speak. Why wouldn’t other people?

He read an autobiographical essay entitled “Braided Cords”, which was excellent. He went from a young child to the present, infused the story with humor, and used various voices as he read the essay. I was entranced.

Then he read from his book, which was also excellent.

Then he talked a little about the process, and I’ll have you know that he hasn’t been taking a break for nine years…he’s been TRYING TO WRITE. Alas, even great writers like him have dry spells.

One thing he said that I think was very profound was:

(refering to finishing The Hour I First Believed) “Having affixed its last period to its final sentence, I now release it to my readers and invite them to find in it whatever they want or need to find. Still, I hope the book advances the notion that power must be used responsibly and mercifully, and thus we are all responsible for one another. These things I believe:

– That, as James BAldwin once put it, “People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes back to them, poisoned.”

– That wars, because of the terrible cost they exact, are never won.

– That love is stronger than hatred.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Did you know that one of the main characters (one of the twins, Thomas Birdsey) from I Know This Much is True  went to school with Caelum Quirk, one of the main characters in The Hour I First Believed? Nice interweaving of stories, eh?

Then we had Q&A. I asked the last question, and he said, “Because you have a nice smile and laughed at all the right places, I’ll let you ask the last question.” *sigh* My idol noticed me! I asked him to talk about how his teaching writing to women inmates has affected the inmates. One of the things he said was that out of 25 women who’ve been in his class and served their sentence, there’s been only one recitivism. Normally, the recitivism rate is 70%.

Then I got to have him sign my book! I had him sign both The Hour I First Believed  and  I Know This Much is True. He was very gracious and kind, despite my gushing. It was like meeting my favorite movie star, only better. It was the best gift I ever could have been given.

Someone took a picture of us together, which I was thrilled about, but, long story, I look lame. Ah well.

12408-008

Could I look any lamer?

12408-006

Yes, I was sitting in the front row. No, I don’t obsess much. Why do you ask?

| Tags: , , , , 44 comments »

44 Responses to “I Got to Meet Wally Lamb!”

  1. bermudaonion

    Happy Birthday! Great story. My Secret Santa gave me The Hour I First Believed and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    [Reply]

  2. Julie P.

    So jealous!!! You are one lucky gal – and you don’t look lame!

    [Reply]

  3. Tammy

    Great post! You sound like me when I went to hear Salman Rushdie speak, I was practically drooling I was so excited. I haven’t read any Wally Lamb yet, but I do have She’s Come Undone on my 2009 list, and I Know This Much Is True is on my shelves.

    [Reply]

  4. nikki

    I Know This Much is True is also on my top-10 list. And like you, I also get giddy from meeting my favorite authors at book signings. I could barely speak when I met Michael Chabon. Glad you had a great time!

    [Reply]

  5. Heather J.

    Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday dear Trish …
    Happy Birthday to you!

    How exciting for you! Will you totally hate me if I tell you I’ve never read anything he’s written, or been especially interested in trying it? Shame on me I know.

    [Reply]

  6. Wendy

    Happy Birthday Trish! Lucky you meeting Wally Lamb!!!! Pretty soon you’ll be able to paper your walls with these author photos :)

    [Reply]

  7. Jessica

    you totally DO NOT look lame! What an amazing experience! I really want his new book!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    [Reply]

  8. Alyce

    That’s wonderful! How nice that you got to meet him!

    [Reply]

  9. Heather

    Oh man I am so jealous! I LOVE Wally Lamb, I own and loved all 3 of his books (including the women’s correctional facility one) and am just waiting on The Hour I First Believed. Have you read that one yet? (aka, do you think it’s worth it to pay for it in hardcover?)
    I have never met an author in person… sad, I know. I guess I don’t live in an author-friendly area…

    Also, happy birthday!!!

    [Reply]

    Steve Reply:

    Heather, I completely agree with your comments. I was fortunate to have lunch with Wally about 3 years ago after a book signing. One of my best friends works at the woman’s prison in CT and sees Wally practically every week. After the book signing we all went to lunch.

    Wally is truly the most humble, humorous and nicest guy you would ever want to meet.

    [Reply]

  10. sagustocox

    Happy Birthday and what a great story!

    [Reply]

  11. veens

    Happy Birthday!!!!
    There is no gift better than this- i can think of!
    Awesome :) and i love the color of your Tee! :) :D I am sorry – i noticed that first :)

    [Reply]

  12. Wally Lamb « Both Eyes Book Blog

    [...] moment in the sun, too.  She got to ask the final question of the night, which you can read about here if you haven’t already.  Sadly, though, when it came time to get her picture taken, the [...]

  13. Darlene

    You don’t look lame-you look happy! Congrats on meeting him, that is just awesome. I’d love to have my books signed by him. Happy Birthday!

    [Reply]

  14. Ti

    Happy Birthday!

    You don’t look lame in the pic, it just looks like the camera caught you mid-sentence. Not a surprise since you were so excited. You were probably gushing!

    [Reply]

  15. Jeane

    That is so very, very cool. I think I would be a stuttering mess to meet one of my favorite authors. Happy Birthday!

    [Reply]

  16. Jen Forbus

    Trish,

    Everytime I read a post of yours I think, “that is SO exactly what I would do.” It’s scary sometimes. When I first went to see Michael Koryta…there like an hour early…sat in the front row….took obsessive amounts of pictures. Same thing when I went to see Alafair Burke. Usually I have to go solo to these events because I drive everyone crazy with my need to be early.

    I’m glad you got to meet your favorite author…and that it timed well enough to be a great 30th birthday present!

    [Reply]

  17. cali

    F U N! I wish I lived nearer to Book Passage. What a great independent bookstore.

    You may think you look lame in your photo with Lamb but at least you thought to bring a camera. I got to meet and hang out back stage with Rickie Lee Jones once and of course I didn’t think to bring a camera.

    [Reply]

  18. alirambles

    Wonderful that you got to meet one of your favorite authors! Have a great birthday!

    [Reply]

  19. Lisa

    What a great birthday present!

    [Reply]

  20. softdrink

    Awesome birthday present! Happy 3-0!!

    [Reply]

  21. bookroomreviews

    Happy Birthday You LUCKY girl you! Sigh! Sigh! I’m not jealous at all:) Sigh!

    [Reply]

  22. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    Happy Birthday!! I’ve never read a Wally Lamb book!

    [Reply]

  23. Jo

    I haven’t read Wally Lamb’s books yet — they’re on an ever-growing list that I keep adding to despite the fact that I own at least 60 books I haven’t read and don’t need new ones — but I’m happy that you got to meet him!

    I totally understand what it’s like to obsess over someone and not understand why no one else does. I’m a journalist and when I was in graduate school, I met a man who is the federal politics reporter at the New York Times (he broke the story about the federal wire tapping program) and it was like meeting a rock star. Few people understood why I thought that was so cool.

    [Reply]

  24. michelle

    Happy Birthday! And what a great present to meet such a terrific writer. I have read “The Hour I first believed” and loved, loved, loved it! It’s in my personal top five reads for 2008 – I highly recommend it!

    [Reply]

  25. S. Krishna

    SUCH a great story! Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  26. Kiki

    I’m jealous–I, too, love Wally Lamb–I Know This Much is True is one of my all time favorites–and I caught the reference to the twins in the new one too!

    Have you read any of his books about women in prison? They are great also–it’ll make you cry. He is an amazing person, you are so lucky you got to meet him!

    You look great by the way, don’t be so hard on yourself…you sound like me, we have a lot in common!

    Happy Birthday!

    [Reply]

  27. Staci

    Wow!! What an excellent birthday present. I share your enthusiasm for Lamb. I think he’s a great author and I look forward to reading this new book. You do not look lame…You look AWESOME and happy!!!

    [Reply]

  28. Dreamybee

    What a great birthday present! How fun! I’d never heard of his program for incarcerated women, but I’d like to learn more.

    [Reply]

  29. ammo

    Happy Birthday Trish! Welcome to the other side :)

    [Reply]

  30. Karen

    What a fantastic story – and a great Birthday present! Wally Lamb is one of my all time favourite authors as well and The Hour I First Believed is a fantastic novel. These are the times I wish I lived in America as not many of my favourite authors make the trip to Australia all that often.

    [Reply]

  31. SFP

    Lucky you! I read Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much is True back to back last month. I’d love a change to meet Wally Lamb.

    And happy birthday.

    [Reply]

  32. Jill

    How neat! Sounds like a great experience…can’t wait to read your thoughts on his latest…

    Happy Birthday!

    [Reply]

  33. lisamm

    Wow, what a totally fun experience, to meet your fave author and have him NOTICE YOU too!! Very very cool!!

    Happy Birthday!!!!!!!

    PS You do NOT look lame! A little startled, maybe, LOL, but not lame!

    [Reply]

  34. Dawn

    What a great evening, Trish! I love going to author events and hearing them read from their own works.

    You look like you’re up there on the dias with him, getting questions from the adoring audience :)

    [Reply]

  35. avisannschild

    Happy belated birthday, Trish! (Sorry I didn’t read this post sooner!) What a great birthday present!

    [Reply]

  36. morninglight mama

    I was sent to your blog by my friend Corinne, and I’m so glad she nudged me your way. WL is by far my favorite author, as well, and his second book is my favorite, too! I got to read his new one and review it for a book review blog (5minutesforbooks). I also had the incredible pleasure to meet him once years ago at The National Book Festival in DC, and I found him to be such a down-to-earth and kind guy. I so agree with everything you’ve said here in this post! I’m hoping that his book touring will bring him to the DC area, too. :)

    [Reply]

  37. More Still Alice « Care’s Online Book Club

    [...] Back to the author event…          I wish I had read a few more posts by Trish on how to be a good attendee at an Author Event.    I felt shy and awkward!    I brought my [...]

  38. Streeler

    wow… Trish, you’re practically 31! What a story, what a birthday! and now.. what a cherished memory! I was googling ‘Wally Lamb booktour’, when I came upon your post. He is also one my favorite writers. The rest are all women. This relates to what I absolutely love about him… he is able to capture a woman’s perspective so accurately thru his female characters. I’m not a writer, but I imagine this task is a challenging one. I find his writing authentic. Anyway, back to you, it’s so nice to ‘meet’ someone else who has found much meaning and satisfaction from the reading of these three books in particular~

    [Reply]

  39. saw hendrix

    Wally Lamb is an excellent writer. I have read “I Know This Much is True”, “She’s Come Undone”, and I recently listened to the recorded version of “The Hour I First Believed”, ironically while traveling around Connecticut and Massachusetts on an extended vacation. I also listened to “The Help” on the way back home to Indiana. The contrasting writing styles between “The Help” and “The Hour I First Believed” are so evident when you listen to two books in a row, close together. Lamb is a far more mature writer than Stockett. Though both stories are good in their own way.

    While I like Lamb’s writing style very much, I can’t agree with his left-leaning politics. He looks at most people who do not have as much as he has, as victims.

    With Stockett’s book, I wonder if we really need one more book about racism in America. Does it bring us together? Is it time to move on to a new time? and a new era when we can just move on, and leave that crap on the past?

    Why not write a book about how we can improve this country?

    It seems to me that what is not valued enough in our society today is hard work. Alot of people are looking for a handout. If we valued people more on what they contribute to society, how they keep their homes, and how they take responsibility for raising their children, then maybe we would have a cleaner, more beautiful, less criminal, America.

    [Reply]

  40. Kaitlin Sansoucie ()

    I met him at about the same time. Check out the interview I recorded a short while later— he had some really fascinating stuff to say!

    http://www.kaitlinsansoucie.com/post/13882297096/wally-lamb-interview

    Enjoy and feel free to share!

    Happy Holidays,
    Kaitlin

    [Reply]

  41. Even MORE WiaN6! « Care's Online Book Club

    [...] EMOTION – let me offer Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone. I admit, I think of Trish (aka HEY LADY! and TLC Book Tours? one of my very first book blogger buds who has gone on to be a major influence on the world of [...]

  42. Devanney ()

    I will be meeting Wally Lamb this coming April, April 16th in West Hartford, CT! I am very excited and look forward to the experience.

    [Reply]

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