I think it’s safe to say that we were all completely charmed by Claire Lombardo’s debut novel The Most Fun We Ever Had. I was blown away by how young she was and the old soul that came through on the pages of her book.
When Claire visited Deer Path Inn last month, she talked about how each of her characters had a little bit of her inside of them. Before she headed back home to Iowa City to work on her next book, she answered a few more things I was dying to know.
You mentioned that The Most Fun We Ever Had wasn’t the original title. Is it close to what you hoped for? Has it lived up to its name?
The title of this book was originally The Year We Were Born, which I was very attached to and can still make very convincing arguments for–but like it is with children, The Most Fun We Ever Had is what we settled on and now I love it and can’t see this book being called anything else. I wanted something not too on-the-nose, and something that might make readers look, then look again and think “huh!” And it’s tongue-in-cheek–born of a sardonic joke within the book–which feels very right for a novel that’s all about the emotional ups and downs of family life.
How much of you is woven into this story?
At once so much and nothing at all. There isn’t anything major plot-wise that’s taken from my own existence, but each of the characters in this book are sprouted from pieces of me–I can’t help but draw my own experience into what I’m putting on the page, indirectly or otherwise. And linguistically, I’m all over the place–I had a friend tell me, “Even I didn’t know, I’d be able to tell you’d written this book because of the number of references to bogs and goblins….”
Who was your favorite character and why?
I have affection for all of the Sorensons, and my loyalties shift daily, but one who was a delight to write in especial was David. I lost my own dad very suddenly in the early stages of writing this book, and the act of rendering a truly good man, a devoted father and husband, was for me a way to honor my dad and keep his goodness alive on the page.
What is your writing process? Did you know the ending when you began?
I’m a very disorganized writer, for the most part–I write scenes as they come to me, and they unfailingly come to me out of order. But for this book, I did know the ending early on–not when I began, but fairly early in. I knew where I wanted the characters to end up, generally, and that ended up being a huge help, especially for a book that’s so long and has so many narrators and storylines.
And just a couple of questions about you:
Favorite author? I could never pick just one, but a writer who I love to the ends of the earth is Alice Munro. Her stories remind me of the power of literature and make me want to write.
Favorite fictional character? Ooh. Another hard one! I’ll go knee-jerk and say Mrs. Bridge from Evan Connell’s Mrs. Bridge. She’s ostensibly kind of awful–but beneath that, so nuanced and layered and sad. She wouldn’t be much fun to hang out with, but she’s utterly three-dimensional, good, bad, and otherwise.
Favorite place to write? My writing desk is an old wooden picnic table that was my parents’ and my grandparents’ before then–it’s currently painted red but I can remember several colorful iterations of it from my childhood.
Your typical Starbucks order? I’m a purist–cold brew most of the time, and a dry cappuccino if it’s very cold out.
Last impulse purchase? I just finally caved and bought a SodaStream–I finally acknowledged that spending $12/week on La Croix was…unwise.
Guilty pleasure? I have a weakness for ludicrously expensive skincare products. Sephora is my happy place in times of writerly distress, and I have achieved customer milestones in the last year that I’d be mortified to share. I’m currently obsessed with Tatcha products, and also Bite Beauty lip stain.
That’s a wrap on our September book! Stay tuned to find out what we’ll be reading in October!