We sat down with Katonah-based author Lauren Acampora whose new book The Hundred Waters will be released in August 2022. Her first novel, The Paper Wasp was published in 2019 and named a Best Summer Read by tons of impressive publications like The New York Times Book Review, USA Today, Oprah Magazine, ELLE, Town & Country, and more.
Her first book, The Wonder Garden, a collection of linked stories, was chosen as one of the best books of the year by Amazon and NPR. It also won the GLCA New Writers Award. Most recently, Acampora became a 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Fiction from The New York Foundation for the Arts.
If you haven’t picked up one of her books, it’s a must! They’re beautifully written and incredibly twisted in all the best ways. We’re big fans, so we stood outside her house until she agreed to give us a few minutes of her time to answer some of our most pressing questions about her fellowship and her new book.
Katonah Connect: Can you tell us a little bit about the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship grant?
Lauren Acampora: It’s a $7,000 grant to support artists and writers, and it’s an unrestricted grant. That means I just get money, which is the best kind of grant. It doesn’t have to go toward anything in particular.
KC: What do you plan to do with your grant money?
LA: It’s going toward household expenses to bridge the gap between publishing advances. But I also just booked a dolphin experience for my daughter at a rescue place on an upcoming vacation, so maybe it’s also going toward dolphins? Honestly, I might write about that experience, so it’s actually work-related. Really, I would be shocked if those dolphins did not make their way into something. (Pause…) All right, fine. I’m using the grant to BUY DOLPHINS!
KC: Speaking of your work, do you ever read your reviews?
LA: Funny you asked. I recently had a conversation with my daughter about this. I told her that some people write really nice reviews, and others write terrible reviews. I read her some of the bad reviews for The Paper Wasp, and one of them said something like, ‘I don’t understand how this writer can hold this parallel story in her mind and still walk around like a functioning human.’
KC: That actually sounds like a compliment.
LA: It was the best bad review. The reader only gave me one star, but I thought it was pretty funny! I want to tell that person, that’s why I can walk around like a functioning human – because I get it out. People who don’t have a creative outlet, they’re the ones who struggle because they don’t have anything to put their stuff into. And that’s kind of what my new book is about. Actually, all my books are a little bit about that – about the need to have creative fulfillment in some way or to channel your angst into something productive, into something creative. If you don’t have that, you’re going to put it somewhere else.
KC: What can you tell us about The Hundred Waters?
LA: I knew you were going to ask me that! I really need to sit down and write a very brief summary.
KC: The pressure is on! What can you share without giving everything away?
LA: It’s set in an affluent suburb suburban Connecticut town – the neighboring town to the one where The Wonder Garden was set.
KC: I love it! Do we see the same characters again?
LA: We do see some of the same characters again – they have little cameo appearances and there are some little references throughout because I couldn’t resist. They’re very light, little references, “Easter Eggs” if you will.
KC: Is there anything else you can share?
LC: It’s about a woman who grew up in this small Connecticut town, moved to New York City to pursue an art career and also supported herself by modeling. She’s part of the downtown art scene for a number of years and is very close to breaking out as an artist, but then things crash all around her and she ends up marrying a successful older architect.
They move back to her hometown where he builds a beautiful house, and they have a daughter. This novel takes place when the daughter is 12. Her husband has an aristocratic Austrian client who recently moved to their town. Their 18-year-old son is an aspiring artist and an environmental activist who causes trouble in the town and this woman’s life – he erupts her entire family.
Oh, that’s the dolphin people calling. I have to go!
Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor in chief/co-publisher of Katonah Connect. She says she’s living the dream she never knew she had. Gia enjoys telling people’s stories, laughing at her crazy dog and a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.