Gays Reading

Claire Lombardo (Same As It Ever Was)

June 20, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Claire Lombardo Season 2 Episode 59
Claire Lombardo (Same As It Ever Was)
Gays Reading
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Gays Reading
Claire Lombardo (Same As It Ever Was)
Jun 20, 2024 Season 2 Episode 59
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Claire Lombardo

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Jason and Brett are joined by Claire Lombardo (Same As It Ever Was), last month's Reese's Book Club pick for her novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had. They talk to Claire about  secrets in relationships, favorite children, Boo Radleyism, and debate Joni Mitchell.

What Guys & Dolls reference is Jason talking about in the intro? Listen here. 

More info about Claire & Jason in conversation at Warwick's HERE.

Claire Lombardo is the author of The Most Fun We Ever Had, which has been optioned for television by Reese Witherspoon. She lives in Iowa City, where she has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Grinnell College and works part-time as a bookseller at Prairie Lights Books.

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Jason and Brett are joined by Claire Lombardo (Same As It Ever Was), last month's Reese's Book Club pick for her novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had. They talk to Claire about  secrets in relationships, favorite children, Boo Radleyism, and debate Joni Mitchell.

What Guys & Dolls reference is Jason talking about in the intro? Listen here. 

More info about Claire & Jason in conversation at Warwick's HERE.

Claire Lombardo is the author of The Most Fun We Ever Had, which has been optioned for television by Reese Witherspoon. She lives in Iowa City, where she has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Grinnell College and works part-time as a bookseller at Prairie Lights Books.

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

Why are you giggling?

Brett Benner:

Um, I don't know, actually. I just, uh, I don't know. Probably because this was a fun episode.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, it was a fun episode. You know, every time I think Claire Lombardo, this is so niche and so gay and so musical theater. But I think of the song, Marry the Man Today from Guys and Dolls, because there's a moment in the song that's like sort of spoken back and forth. And One woman says, Guy Lombardo, in rhythm. And so I think, Clara Lombardo.

Brett Benner:

You are pulling it back. You are making it musical. I love that.

Jason Blitman:

I know. So, so silly. Welcome to gaze reading,

Brett Benner:

Yes,

Jason Blitman:

uh, for those who are new welcome for the, if you're coming back, thanks for, for joining us again. if you like what you're hearing, please share us with your friends. We are on social media, on Instagram at gaze reading, um, all of the books that we talk about. And there are no books coming out today because it's, a random day. It's Thursday, because we have so many episodes this month. This is essentially a bonus. But all of the books that we do talk about, including Claire Lombardo's Same As It Ever Was, and The Most Fun We Ever Had, will be in our bookshop. org page, which the link to is in our show notes. Our Patreon, which has a ton of bonus content, uh, you can join that via the link in our show notes. Um, and we are also, uh, In week three of our Covenant of Water read along, Covenant of Water by Abraham Vergheese, we're reading along with a group. You can learn more about that at gazereading. com slash readalong. There's so much time left. You are not late to the game if you want to join us. Um,

Brett Benner:

left.

Jason Blitman:

there's so much book left and like other fun stuff in store. We have like little group conversations that are happening. It's super, super, super fun. And if you ever wanted to read like a big scary book, now is like a safe time to do it.

Brett Benner:

It's summer. That's when it's time.

Jason Blitman:

I know, good summer reading. On today's show, the wonderful Claire Lombardo, and at the time of airing, I will be in conversation with Claire at Warwicks in San Diego next week. To learn more about that, visit warwicks. com slash events. And if you are listening, please do. After June 25th, you missed it and I'm sorry, but if it's going to, but it was great.

Brett Benner:

It was an

Jason Blitman:

well.

Brett Benner:

it was incredible. I didn't know. It was just amazing. Like the amount, like Steven Spielberg was there and I don't know why Steven Spielberg.

Jason Blitman:

We have the wonderful Claire Lombardo talking about her book, same as it ever was. Claire is the author of The Most Fun We Ever Had, which has been optioned for television by Reese Witherspoon, uh, and was also just Reese's book club pick last month. She lives in Iowa City where she has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop and Grinnell College and works part time as a bookseller at Prairie Light Books. I'm Jason.

Brett Benner:

Um, Brett

Jason Blitman:

And enjoy this episode of Gaze Reading.

You can also

Jason Blitman:

How are you this morning?

Claire Lombardo:

I'm okay, how are you guys doing?

Jason Blitman:

Pretty good. We are here to talk about your book, same as it ever was. Do you have an elevator pitch for the book?

Claire Lombardo:

Sure. same As it ever was is I've been describing it very briefly as the story of a woman's life told out of order. It is about a woman named Julia Ames. When we meet her, she is in her fifties and she has what appears to be a really lovely life. She has A really nice husband who she likes a lot and two almost grown children who are doing well and a dog who is obsessed with her. And then she runs into an old friend who she never expected to see again and never hoped to see again. And that causes her to spiral a little bit and rethink a lot of the choices that she's made in her life. How is that?

Jason Blitman:

Love

Brett Benner:

That was excellent.

Jason Blitman:

I appreciate that your pitch and the blurb of the book is specific and vague enough that it doesn't really give too much away. I feel every,

Claire Lombardo:

a ton of plots, so I feel like we have to be super careful.

Jason Blitman:

you can't say that to people. It's a 500 page book.

Claire Lombardo:

I know. I know. I can't. That's how I pitched my first book to my agent when I met her. I was like, my book's really long. It doesn't have a plot. And it just follows a people for 50 years. And she was like, that sounds amazing. It's not a good thing. Not a good

Jason Blitman:

So funny. So the first line of the book is it happens in the way that most important things end up happening. Most end up having happened for her accidentally. Do things accidentally happen for you?

Claire Lombardo:

do, yeah. I'm a magnet for weird, weird stuff. Weird human interactions. And I do think I had in mind writing that scene. You know how when you do something that's just slightly different and you just have a sense that whatever choice you've made is going to somehow work? Be meaningful. It's like how people can say it. Like people say that they like, I knew I was going to be rear ended even though I didn't see the car come. It's just that weird feeling. Yeah. And Julia is very much, her husband is the opposite of that. Her husband likes everything to be planned out and likes to know, I did a, so B will happen. And Julia is a little bit more haphazard, which I'm a planner, but I think I'm a haphazard person. So relate to that.

Jason Blitman:

I 100 percent relate to that too.

Brett Benner:

What's that phrase? We, you plan God laughs, right? Or isn't that yeah. Yeah. That.

Jason Blitman:

somewhat early on in the book of the, in the galley at the very beginning of chapter two, there's a typo.

Claire Lombardo:

That helps.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, wait, I have, no, that's okay. So the sentence comes out as the suburbs Mecca for successful Sadults with incomprehensible job titles and their disillusioned stay at home spouses, oak trees and opulence and artfully disguised despair. And I was like. Where did the word saddles come from, but I was also listening to the audio while reading at the same time and I was like, Oh, I was so disappointed to learn that was a typo

Claire Lombardo:

I,

Jason Blitman:

I, you were

Brett Benner:

That was the new word. Saddlettes.

Claire Lombardo:

no, I was like, it was one of those things that, because this is not something I'll talk very long about it. Cause it's really boring. And I'm sure neither of you want to hear about it, but they've changed the way that you do copy edit. So everything is like digital now. And I'm very not tech savvy. So there were certain things where I would be like, I'd want to delete this. Word, but the, I would only have highlighted whatever. And so I saw that when the galleys came out and I was like, am I allowed to swear? Sorry. Fuck but then I was like, boy, but it's also amazing. It was like my favorite typo I've ever had,

Jason Blitman:

It was so genius. And I was like, we need to make saddles catch on.

Claire Lombardo:

I'm a little surprised that it hasn't

Jason Blitman:

2024.

Claire Lombardo:

someone hasn't. Made that happen. Yeah, I'm a sad alt

Brett Benner:

I'm a

Jason Blitman:

know, right? I think this is a community of saddles on the call.

Claire Lombardo:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

we're in a safe space. see you at the meeting.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah, yeah, it'll be great.

Brett Benner:

It almost, it does. It almost, it's, yeah, it's a support group and also the start of a whole medical franchise. If you're a member of Saddlettes with only, get your prescription now for, Yeah. Completely.

Claire Lombardo:

It's amazing. I know. I was a little sad that it didn't make it into the I don't think it did. I should check. I'm pretty sure it didn't. I feel like I would have

Jason Blitman:

it It didn't make it into the audio, so I can only assume it didn't in turn make it to the final transcript. But oh my God I was like, this is my new favorite word

Claire Lombardo:

It's good. I know. I'm glad you witnessed it.

Jason Blitman:

There are so many little things like that not typos, but like that it wouldn't have surprised me if that was a real choice for you because things like someone asked, do I sound divorced? And it's what does divorced sound like? So there are these like quirky millennial adults and like some older adult moments that do happen. So it wouldn't have surprised me, but what does divorce sound like?

Claire Lombardo:

I don't know. I don't know. I guess Julia doesn't really well, maybe she does. I shouldn't spoil any plot, but I don't know. But I that was one of those lines that's been in the book since I wrote a short story about Julia like 10 years ago and that line was in that short story and I It's not something I overheard, but I feel like I overhear things like that all the time when I'm, on the train or just walking around or, and someone will say something like that, what the fuck are you talking about? And so I like being able to have those sort of weird non sequitur moments in conversation because they certainly happened to me a lot.

Jason Blitman:

It's what the fuck you're talking about. I'm going to write that down

Claire Lombardo:

right

Brett Benner:

Yeah. Are you someone when you write, I'm just so curious, and especially with this, because you do, both your books are very character driven. Do you have, do you write out for yourself a sense and an outline of where you're going? Or are you someone who, just follows the trend and follow her or whomever it is at the moment?

Claire Lombardo:

I just follow blindly the characters. I'm not a, that's an area of my life where I'm not a planner. I do that storyboarding behind me after I have a draft. So I, yeah, with, with a character like Julia, that was a pretty fun endeavor because pretty much all Julia does is misbehave. And when you have a character who misbehaves in big ways or in small ways, she tells a little bit of a lie or she lies to herself or she, Whatever that just yields more plot. If you tell one lie, you're forced to tell another. If do something you're not supposed to do with another person, you either have to choose to keep doing it or not. And then, so it's, so she was just a joy to write. And she really did if I ever got stuck with this book, I just had to think, what would Julia do? What's she going to do next? And she always delivered.

Brett Benner:

It sounds like you're taking, it's like advice for your own life, but probably something now I'm saying, what would Julia do in this situation?

Jason Blitman:

but then you'd have to figure it out. Cause the reality is you don't know. Cause I think we were all maybe surprised by some of the choices she was making.

Claire Lombardo:

I certainly was.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Not, this doesn't give anything away, but if a spouse or someone you were in a relationship with was keeping something from you, would you want to know?

Claire Lombardo:

That's a good question. I think about that a lot. Don't know. I guess it would depend on the circumstances. Because I know I can't answer that without giving away something about the book, but

Jason Blitman:

No, I want to know about you.

Claire Lombardo:

me, no, I know I was thinking, I don't, would you want to know? I don't know. I don't, I feel like I have found things like that out before, and wish that I hadn't, but then I also, feel like an idiot, but then you're glad that because you can, Make choices. I feel like if it were my spouse I don't know. I don't know if

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. I, for me, I'm I feel exactly like you do. There's a part of me that's what I don't know won't hurt me. And like, mentally. If I think about a thing, I can think about all the things I might not know. And mentally doesn't bother me emotionally. It bothers me. So if I actually found it out, it would hurt my heart. But my brain is you don't need to, your heart is fine. Do you know what I mean?

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

if you don't know everything, whether it's your spouse, whether it's your sibling, whether it's your parent, you feel like, how come I didn't know that there's this weird element of FOMO, but also was I not important enough? To be shared that information,

Brett Benner:

But if you didn't know, would you feel that anyway?

Jason Blitman:

right? Exactly what I don't know. Doesn't matter.

Brett Benner:

This is like the relationship version of 23andMe.

Jason Blitman:

Brad.

Claire Lombardo:

That's a good because I am not I don't want my 23 and me. I don't want to know about that. I don't

Brett Benner:

I did it.

Claire Lombardo:

did you I did it for my dog. How was it for you? Yeah, I want to hear about you. Okay.

Brett Benner:

Okay, but okay, then I'm curious. I gotta ask about that because what are you finding out like? Oh, you have a brother in Tennessee Is it that? Yeah the dog

Claire Lombardo:

she has some distant so I got her in Philadelphia and she has a few there's there she has a distant relation named trouble. Who's 37 percent related to her. Um, and you also find out things like, will she be prone to certain like bone

Jason Blitman:

dysplasia or whatever. Yeah.

Claire Lombardo:

I mean, I don't know that it's accurate. I did learn that she's 1 percent Irish Wolfhound, which you saw her. She's quite small. So that's but that's, that felt

Brett Benner:

It was 1 percent though.

Claire Lombardo:

Yes. That's true.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. No, the 23 and me, I did it. I did it partially because it was, I think it was maybe during COVID. It was all the rage, right? Everybody was doing it. And you spit in a cup and or on a vial and, but I wanted to know something specific and you don't have to know this information, which was, I wanted to know about, Alzheimer's and dementia. And when you get your results, it'll say, do you want this information? You can choose not to have it. And I really thought I only wanted it because I knew it exists in my family. And it turns out I have two of the four markers. So by the end of this call, I won't know either one of you, but I did think that. I would be freaked out by that information. Like I'm such a worrier that I thought it's going to send me spiraling, but it really didn't. I'm like, okay, I'm aware of it now. What can I alter in the immediate to help not expedite this situation? So I like stopped drinking Diet Coke. Cause I know that's one of the things that's not

Jason Blitman:

Are you doing the crossword puzzle? Oh,

Claire Lombardo:

Oh,

Brett Benner:

New York times thing. I do Wordle, I do connections and I do the mini. I don't do the big. Yes.

Claire Lombardo:

good.

Jason Blitman:

should do the big. The big is what's good for you.

Brett Benner:

Yes, and well, I'm also learning a second language. So I feel like I'm doing enough that I'm like staving

Jason Blitman:

You're reading a lot.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, but it does it is an interesting thing But I do have I was talking to someone the other day who had done it and he found out his parents had put him up for adoption when he was little, so he was being raised, obviously, in another family, but he got 23andMe, and then his brother, full brother, who he didn't know he had, reached out to him and said, I think we're related. And so, They've reconnected and he found out he has two half sisters, so it's been this kind of amazing thing.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, I do feel like 23andMe can do good, but I also think that my husband is very anti 23andMe, because then, our All of our information is in a vault somewhere, in quotation marks, so I don't know, it's a little weird.

Brett Benner:

I do love the comeuppance things of the racist people who find out like your great grandmother was black. That's the best thing

Claire Lombardo:

It's the greatest thing in the world.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, it really is.

Jason Blitman:

So I maybe don't believe in 23andMe. Julia has a whole laundry list of things that she doesn't believe in.

Claire Lombardo:

She does.

Jason Blitman:

For example, raisins, scented candles, toothpicks. Degrees in Communication Flavored Coffee, Astrology, etc. Is there anything, Claire, that you don't believe in?

Brett Benner:

Yeah,

Claire Lombardo:

of those things. Julia doesn't believe in Chardonnay. I also do not. Don't believe in a lot of things. I that was a fun list to make because there was a lot of Julia and I are not dissimilar. I will say, do you not believe in anything, either of you?

Jason Blitman:

I, all the time, say, I don't believe in blank. And of course, in thinking, I was like creating this list, and I'm thinking about this question, and I was like, I'm The question's gonna get turned on me and what is that thing I don't believe in, but I just say it it's a regular thing I say I don't believe in, blank, but

Claire Lombardo:

Or I don't trust A, B, or C. I don't trust a lot of things. Or I just don't like. Yes, those are all frequent wins. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Hilariously, again, something in a galley, this is like a little behind the scenes, something in the galley that was cut in the final version is Kleenex with lotion.

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, did that, that did get cut.

Jason Blitman:

huh.

Claire Lombardo:

I think I, go ahead.

Jason Blitman:

I don't know why, but I was like, how does Claire not believe in, or how does Julia, how does Claire, whoever it is, how do you not believe in Kleenex with lotion? It's so restorative.

Claire Lombardo:

I hate it though, because it makes your hands slippery and like.

Jason Blitman:

That's fair. But if you're blowing your nose so much with a regular Kleenex, it gets all, you know, terrible.

Claire Lombardo:

I don't like the kind that has like the Vicks, Vapo stuff in it. Those are upsetting to me on a different

Brett Benner:

that's like triggering for like childhood. Mother rubbing it on my chest and being like, you'll breathe better now. I can't breathe at all.

Jason Blitman:

my God. I feel like some of this conversation, this is coming across as terrible, but like the Kleenex with lotion is a great example. And now here's another one. I feel like this is just me picking bones with you.

Claire Lombardo:

Okay.

Jason Blitman:

There's a lot of music referenced throughout the book. Fleetwood Mac, The Talking Heads, No Sleep Till Brooklyn. Why Do You Hate Joni Mitchell?

Claire Lombardo:

Oh God. I don't hate her. I just, I struggle with her. I didn't ever go through that phase of what's the album? Blue? Blue? Yeah.

Brett Benner:

kind of, yeah. Is that Miles Davis?

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, that is Miles

Brett Benner:

That's Miles Davis. It's, I think it's just blue.

Claire Lombardo:

Okay. I never had, I certainly went through a lot of musical phases. That was just never one that I went through and I just have never, I'm never in the headspace for her. I respect her. I respect those who respect her. I just, that was just never a part of my,

Jason Blitman:

But But both sides now? It's such a good song!

Claire Lombardo:

sure it is but it appears in the book. I wouldn't want it to be playing at a party.

Jason Blitman:

That's fair. Okay, for context, it's talking about someone trying to drive everyone in a group to self harm because they've turned on Joni Mitchell.

Claire Lombardo:

someone's birthday party.

Jason Blitman:

birthday

Brett Benner:

You know what? I think

Jason Blitman:

That's fair. Okay.

Brett Benner:

it could be the theme song for the sadly meeting group. This adult meeting

Jason Blitman:

adults. Oh my God. The saddles. Yes. Oh my God.

Claire Lombardo:

definitely listen to Joni Mitchell. That is

Jason Blitman:

Yes. Okay. All what is your favorite talking head song then?

Claire Lombardo:

This must be the place, I believe. No, Slippery People, I think. But I really like I just saw the I'm late to the party on this. I just finally like a year ago, I saw uh, Stop

Jason Blitman:

Oh, oh, Oh,

Claire Lombardo:

And the live version of Slippery People is like one of my favorite songs of all time. But this must be the place is also that I think I believe that also got taken out of the book because there's a joke at the end. What's your favorite Talking Heads song? There is a right answer. And it used

Jason Blitman:

Oh, what do you think I asked you the question for?

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah. Yeah. Yes. You know, My book better than I do. I haven't read it in a while. It's really long. I don't know if you notice, but

Jason Blitman:

The amount of times we talk to authors and they're like, I don't know what you're talking about in my, from my book. So it's totally fine.

Brett Benner:

I wrote that three years ago. That was first draft

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah, I know, it's a little embarrassing. I feel like with The Most Fun We Ever Had, because I've been doing more press for that in the last few months that at least, I'm like I wrote it, seven years ago but this I was copyediting this book a few months ago. I don't really have an excuse, but I Yeah, I appreciate your attention to detail, so I don't have to have it. Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Okay, so that's a good talking head song. I love Road to Nowhere. Classic. Favorite Fleetwood Mac song? This is the second interview we're doing this week, where someone talks about Fleetwood Mac multiple times in the book.

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, what's the other book? Am I allowed to ask you that?

Jason Blitman:

Anyone's Ghost by August Thompson. It comes

Brett Benner:

that comes in July.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah,

Claire Lombardo:

Is that a musical reference that title?

Brett Benner:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

uh, the, the, it's

Brett Benner:

pull it Jason cuz you wrote it you you brought that reference up

Jason Blitman:

did. It Anyone's ghost is by the national.

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, okay. Okay. I did. Okay. I'm glad I clocked that. I don't usually my references are usually a couple decades out of date. That's within the last 10 years, right?

Jason Blitman:

I think so. I would have never known. I read the book and it wasn't until later that I learned, realized that it was a musical

Claire Lombardo:

I can hear it in my head now, actually.

Jason Blitman:

good for you. See, I knew you were music y person just based on reading your book.

Claire Lombardo:

I'm glad it was fun to get to put that in this book. Even though I, it was my dream to situate this book in a very liminal space in time because I wanted to avoid COVID. So I was like, I can't put any real cultural references, but then it just became such a big part of Julia's life because it is a big part of my life. And

Brett Benner:

And the age tracks.

Claire Lombardo:

the what?

Jason Blitman:

the

Brett Benner:

The age tracks. I for where she is and where, because she's one year older than I am at the end of this

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, okay. Okay.

Brett Benner:

which brings me to something I have to say and I know this has been brought up to you before. The fact that you are writing these characters. Who are so far beyond your age, like I'm literally like Claire must literally be the oldest soul alive or have connections to so many oldies that are giving her so much great stuff to pull upon because it really, it's astounding to me what you're tapping into honestly and succinctly. Frankly, triggering

Claire Lombardo:

Oh no. Oh.

Brett Benner:

really in terms of all of it with this, we've been together almost 30 years. And and he very much is in a lot of ways, her husband, he is amazing and supportive and so smart beyond anything I can even imagine for myself. And unfortunately what that means for me is, Jesus Christ, I see similarities with Julia here that are just sometimes really frightening.

Claire Lombardo:

If it makes you feel any better, that is, I can't tell you how many people have said that to me. Mark is just like my husband and I'm like, who are all of you who have these men who I have never dated a Mark in my life. So I would rather have your narrative

Brett Benner:

Well, And it's a little bit like, and I think what you're doing with the book so well, again, triggering is you are saying a lot of the quiet parts out loud. And you are in terms of the expressions and what they're saying and what they're doing. And that I think so many couples go through regardless of like their, their status and every couple goes through hills and valleys. You've just magnified it in such a succinct way that I mean I did this to Jason the other day. I remember when I was, when I started it, I was having a very strong reaction to her. And I was like I don't, I'm like fighting her. And then I, part of it was, I was realizing it was pulling up stuff from me that was really triggering.

Jason Blitman:

Then later Brett was like, it's because I'm her.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, but even sometimes her reactions to kids, all of it, I was like, and I remember even having kids and that feeling of wow, we're really locked into this now, aren't we? We can't just walk away from this. You know what I mean? And that means.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

So where does all that come from for you? You're young.

Claire Lombardo:

I don't, I'm not that young. I'm not as young as I used

Brett Benner:

You're the same

Jason Blitman:

We need to say we're young

Claire Lombardo:

I'm 35. I don't you can know that.

Jason Blitman:

girl. I'm older than you. I'm

Brett Benner:

You're young.

Claire Lombardo:

the internet says I'm 36, but I'm not.

Jason Blitman:

It does.

Brett Benner:

Correct. That

Claire Lombardo:

My friend told me that yesterday. I know. I don't know. I do. I do have A lot of, since I was a teenager, I've always been drawn to people who are a lot older than me. And now most of my closest friends are 10 to 30 years my senior, which I consider such a gift. It's like such a lovely and that's one of the reasons that I wrote Julia's Relationship with Helen into this book. Cause I, yeah, I hadn't really seen it explored in fiction and it's such a big part of my life that I've had. These really wonderful women who have been kind enough to be like, Hey, here's how this works. Or here's, or to just, I don't know. I feel like there's less competition. There's, I don't know. It's like a pure, I don't know. I don't know. I feel like it's There's so many benefits. And so I think that is part of it. I also, I don't know, I'm just a, maybe I'm a sociopath. That's another thing I've considered, but I think with Julia, like I just got to know her so well, and I spent such a long time with her in my head that it became easy for me to see what she would be like, In a demographic similar to mine and a station in life similar to mine, but then it became easy for me to think what would it be like if there was a kid in her backseat? What would it be like if? She did fall in love with someone who she actually really cared about. What would it be like if, X, Y, or Z. And that it became easier for me to understand how she would react to those things. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I feel like the relationship between Helen and Julia, er, let me ask this in a question form rather than in a statement form do you maybe see a whisper of a Mary Poppins relationship between Helen and Julia?

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah. I do accept like a sinister Mary Poppins. I think. And I don't know if, I was actually just talking to a friend of mine who was reading the book right now because she said, I'm very intrigued by Helen. And I was like, do you think she's bad? Because I really toed the line with Helen of, is, are her motives pure? Is she this like magical Mary Poppins who floats down and makes everything okay? Or, Does she have, not ulterior motives, but and I think my editor and I had a fun back and forth as I was editing this book of, how complicit is Helen in, how culpable is she? So I did yeah. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

because I really went to there's a season for things in your life. Or there's a time and a place, or, someone is there at a time when you might quote unquote need them, and whether Julia, whether helpful, harmful, I think Julia learns from her time with Helen.

Claire Lombardo:

I think you're right though. I think it is, I think there's elements of both of those things. And I think it is that kind of you meet the right person at the right time. I don't know. I mean, she, She definitely is. And I think this doesn't spoil anything. I don't think to say that by the end of the book, both women are grateful to have encountered each other. Yeah. And changed for the better for knowing each other. Despite, what happens When they are Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

That was obviously a me putting a literary reference onto the book myself, but another literary reference that you put into the book is Boo Radleyism.

Claire Lombardo:

sure. Yes.

Jason Blitman:

Which as a concept, is so interesting. For our listeners, can you define slash make up right now what Boo Radleyism means,

Claire Lombardo:

Oh God. I was just imagining so Julia says that she is concerned I believe that her son, Ben is could be destined for Boo Radley ism and I primarily because he's It's like her husband he's ultimately a nice guy, which I think either she points out or Mark points out, but he's weird. Like he's he likes to be alone. He spends a lot of time in his own head, but he also would save you if you were in danger.

Jason Blitman:

right? you're like, private and maybe reclusive, but also kind at the end of the day. That's like Boo Radleyism, I feel like. And Misunderstood, I know, so it like, made me really think about, and A, reflect on Boo Radley period, which one of my favorite books of all time. But also really think about the people in my life that I know who like maybe are a little more to themselves or quiet or a little odd and like really Oh, give them a little bit more empathy or benefit of the doubt that if my life was in danger, they would come rescue me in my ham costume.

Claire Lombardo:

Exactly.

Jason Blitman:

So stupid. It's 8,

Brett Benner:

a

Claire Lombardo:

was really

Brett Benner:

They're a little boo. That's what you could say, Jason.

Claire Lombardo:

There you go. Oh, God. I forgot how early. You guys are two hours ahead of me. That's really early.

Jason Blitman:

We do this early all the time. You, and you are also our fifth conversation of the week. So it's more, that's more of the exhausting part than it being

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, God. Okay. Okay.

Jason Blitman:

And we have a sixth this afternoon.

Claire Lombardo:

You're doing Great.

Jason Blitman:

The book is so much about relationships, and among them, parent child relationships. Is it, since Google was wrong about your age, is it true that you are not a

Claire Lombardo:

that is true. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

Dog parent.

Claire Lombardo:

Yes. I am a dog parent. That's true. Or a dog. I don't know what I am. I'm her employee, but yes.

Jason Blitman:

I know. There are things like phrases like there's nothing harder than being someone's mom thrown around the book. You're not a mom. Does writing characters like this give you more empathy for your own mom?

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah, totally. Yes. I think it absolutely does. There's a point in the book at which Julia, I think she, so Julia has a very difficult relationship with her mom. That is nothing like the relationship. I have a wonderful mom and I'm very close to my mom, but Julia has this moment where she's moved to call her mother because she realizes how much. It's possible for your kids to hurt you a lot. And she has this moment of empathy. And so I think exploring those moments with that character certainly, gave me empathy for my own mom, for people in my life who are moms. It is challenging. Yeah, I get asked the question a lot, which you know of like, how do you write motherhood having, never had kids. I do it in the same way that I write dogs or men or like people any experiences that aren't mine. I don't think it's like another species. But I do think it is a really unique and really complex relationship. And yeah I have a mom. I know a lot of moms and I, certainly do have more empathy for them. I think, especially since this book has not come out, but since people are reading it and so many people have said to me that's how I felt. And I felt like I wasn't allowed to say anything. Like I felt like I wasn't allowed to say, yeah, these kids are going to be around forever or God, this is and so I, I like that. That's something that we're allowed to talk about now. I feel like it's becoming more of a thing that you're allowed to

Brett Benner:

You're allowed to say who your favorite is. No, you're not

Claire Lombardo:

yes. No, you're

Brett Benner:

Which made me laugh so hard. And I think now, do you remember growing up because you have a lot of siblings? Did you always feel like with your parents, who there was a favorite in any given circumstance with your mom and dad?

Claire Lombardo:

If you asked my siblings, they would all say that I was the favorite.

Brett Benner:

And where do you where do you fall in the hierarchy?

Claire Lombardo:

I'm the youngest, so I have sort of a, my parents had four kids in five years uh, so just sit with

Jason Blitman:

ha, ha.

Claire Lombardo:

and then nine years later had me. So I was like an only child.

Brett Benner:

It's like me too.

Claire Lombardo:

We're okay. Okay. Yeah. So I think it's how many do you have? Do you have a bunch?

Brett Benner:

I'm the youngest of, I'm the youngest of four, but my sister will be, she just turned 71. So my mom really did two girls first and then my brother. And then, honestly, my mom thought she had a gastro infection and when they're like, you're pregnant. Um,

Jason Blitman:

And she was like, NOOOOO!

Brett Benner:

Exactly. Yes, exactly.

Claire Lombardo:

Oh God.

Brett Benner:

But that's funny that they'll all say, they all think that you're the favorite.

Claire Lombardo:

I mean, I think that they just like, yeah, because I was, I mean, I got more stuff, I guess, just because my parents had, first they had to stretch their resources over four kids. And then by the time I was little, it was they were both like, not super old parents, cause they had my siblings and they were pretty young, but I don't know though. I, I think it, it varies. I feel like I've observed my parents having different loyalties and whatever with my siblings, but

Brett Benner:

I think it changes too with parents as you go along. Like people always say, first kid, second kid. And then for those who want more, but your first, you're so on top of it and everything you're doing, and you're so exhausted that by the second you're like, it'll be fine. Eat the rock. You know what I mean? Eat

Claire Lombardo:

You'll be

Brett Benner:

you. Yes. It's all and when, I remember growing up and I don't know if you guys had any of this, but tonka trucks were made of metal and like everything was like, there was potential for everything to kill you. Like we had these things called click clacks. Have you guys ever heard of these? There were two glass colored balls attached to a rope and you literally would go like this and they would just go and that's all they did. But inevitably there were going to be glass shards that were going to break off. So I'm sure that, cause now you would have known about it cause it would have been on CNN immediately, but I'm sure there were kids everywhere that had flecks of glass in their eyes or

Claire Lombardo:

In there. Yeah. Shrapnel.

Brett Benner:

But it is, I think as you go along, you get, the kids thing, you get a little like less hands on and you're like, it'll be fine. It'll be fine. And that was probably to your benefit because you get everything and you're a little more free reign.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah. Yeah. No, that does sound it. Having less anxious parents sounds like a nice For everyone involved, probably, right?

Jason Blitman:

I feel like my mother, my grandmother, her mother, are probably, like, when it says anxious to you in the dictionary, their pictures are there. 100%. And of course they won't talk about it.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah, of course. That's the caveat.

Jason Blitman:

It just stews, the anxiety stews and stews. Oh my god.

Brett Benner:

what SSRs are now for. And all that, yes, that's all right. It's

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, I was like, silent, sustained reading. Oh, but that also, I guess, has some benefit. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

huh.

Jason Blitman:

And that makes me think too about something that's talked about in the book is childhood amnesia. That you forget from your childhood as like a mode of survival.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Are there things like, even in writing this book, where did that dust anything up for you of Oh God, childhood trauma.

Claire Lombardo:

Um. I think it made me aware of the fact that I have a lot of childhood amnesia. And I think that's another thing that comes not from trauma, but just from having a lot of siblings, because I'll have these memories. And I wrote about this in my first book, I'll have these memories of, a really specific thing happening. And one of my siblings will be like, you weren't born yet. That did not, you were not present for that situation. So I think I've grown up with. So much white noise that I don't know. I just don't have a great memory for stuff like that. I'm always like astounded by people who have these like really pristine cinematic childhood memories. Cause I'm just Oh, I don't know what I was doing for the last 34 years, but I'm pretty living in the moment.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, that's really funny. I think if someone were to like, specifically say, do you remember things, I might be able to jog some memories. Like this conversation right now, I'm like, okay, what are some of the first memories that pop into my mind? But I do think so much of it too, is like, hearing stories or seeing photos or like my brain is putting the pieces of the puzzle together for me, even though I might not quote unquote remember it. I'm, I remember the photos and that sort of jogging, it's like filling in a blank, which is very weird.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

Like

Jason Blitman:

I was like, what don't I remember?

Claire Lombardo:

I know. I know. I don't really want to

Brett Benner:

Right. What is the trauma that I'm repressing that needs to come out to explain, justify all of my behaviors now?

Jason Blitman:

I know. Seriously.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I, whenever there are questions that characters get asked in a book, I love to turn them on to the authors too, which is this is a perfect segue. And funnily enough, not in order in my notes, but someone asks the question, what is your earliest memory?

Claire Lombardo:

Oh, you're right. I don't know. I don't know what my earliest memory is. don't remember it. I have, and this kind of goes back to, I have a memory of speaking of sailing, being on a sailboat with my dad as a child, which never happened, but it's like this very vivid memory that I have that my dad. Was like on a lunch break and we went on a sailboat in the Chicago river. This didn't happen, but that is an early.

Jason Blitman:

It's interesting to think about the, how our dreams might infiltrate our memories. And so it's were you a kid and had that dream in some, and suddenly that's, how weird.

Claire Lombardo:

I know. I know. Who knows? I don't know. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

my son has this dream. He's convinced it's real. Until he realized it's, not real, but forever, he would go on and be like, I saw Santa Claus came into my room. It was Christmas. Santa Claus came into my room. And weirdly, he was not wearing red. He was all wearing green. And so I remember chip and I look at each other and being like, Okay. Great. Great. Great. Never happened. And then finally when he figured it out, he was like, wait, so that green suit never, no.

Claire Lombardo:

Was it a happy dream for

Brett Benner:

It It was a totally happy

Claire Lombardo:

Oh good. Okay.

Brett Benner:

it was a good, it was a good memory, but he, but the detail of it just say he was in green instead of red.

Jason Blitman:

It was, it was the elf that needed to take over for the night. Cause Santa was a little

Brett Benner:

exactly, that's exactly right. Put this fat pad on and go into that kid's room.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah. Why was he in his room?

Brett Benner:

sounds like a whole different story.

Claire Lombardo:

That's a whole other. My nieces had this thing for a while, I hope my sister won't mind me saying this where they were very invested in, they really wanted Santa and the Easter Bunny to come, but they didn't want him to come upstairs because they thought that was terrifying, which it is. So they would write in their letter here are your cookies. Thank you for coming. Please, you are not welcome upstairs.

Jason Blitman:

That's so funny. That makes me think about a time, Brett, I can't remember if I've ever told the story on this podcast before. We've recorded too many interviews. But when I was a kid, the tooth fairy didn't come one night. And I assumed that it was because our alarm was set in the house. And so I literally wrote a note to the tooth fairy and stuck it in the window and said, we turned off our alarm. You're good, Tooth Fairy. You can come in today.

Claire Lombardo:

Did the tooth fairy come that

Jason Blitman:

She did,

Claire Lombardo:

did. Okay. He did.

Jason Blitman:

Um, they

Claire Lombardo:

tooth. they did.

Brett Benner:

did. Oh my God,

Jason Blitman:

I was like, the fact that my parents let me put a sign in the window that says our security alarm is off.

Claire Lombardo:

Come on in.

Jason Blitman:

Come on in, anyone. You're safe.

Brett Benner:

right. Meanwhile, the rash of thefts happening in the neighborhood. The guy's go to that house.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

The

Brett Benner:

The blimmins are wide open,

Jason Blitman:

Oh my

Brett Benner:

like it's a

Jason Blitman:

have nothing in the house but childhood trauma, so

Brett Benner:

Take what you want. Maybe leave a tooth

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god, that's not really true. I didn't have that much childhood trauma, I don't want anyone to think that I had a terrible childhood.

Brett Benner:

Though. And

Jason Blitman:

I was very creative and communicative, yes. I was a problem solver from day one. Okay, another question that gets asked to a character, what is your best vacation you ever took?

Claire Lombardo:

My best vacation that I ever took. I took myself to Italy. This.

Brett Benner:

Oh,

Claire Lombardo:

For my 35th birthday, which Google didn't pick up apparently. It was the first time I had ever traveled like that by myself for fun. I've done that for work. It was a lot of fun. It was weird. It was a weird amount of time to spend by yourself. I was there for two weeks.

Jason Blitman:

What cities Did you go to?

Claire Lombardo:

I went to Rome and Venice, and then I went to Lake Como for the end, which was the most incredible place I've ever been. So yeah, that was, what's the best vacation either of you ever took? Both of you ever took?

Jason Blitman:

I have said this before, but we, for our honeymoon, we did Paris, Rome, and a little village in Tuscany. And it was all incredible. But in Rome, we like did a day trip to the random suburb mountains and did a truffle hunt with a truffle hunter and his dogs. And then had a meal that was home cooked by Papa and Mateo. It was out of control. Incredible. And we like met people. There were like six of us on the hike. And we were from every corner of the world. There were people from China. And there were people from, I want to say South America. And then there were us. I mean it was so cool. No one, everyone's first language was different.

Claire Lombardo:

That's cool. That sounds amazing.

Brett Benner:

so how did you end up communicating

Jason Blitman:

through a weird mix of like, I want to say Spanglish and charades and tone and right. Like it was, I say Spanglish because I think there's some commonality in there of some of the languages. And I think people spoke enough English and enough Spanish and enough Italian and enough. That it was like, but yeah, we figured it all out.

Brett Benner:

Wow,

Claire Lombardo:

That's very

Brett Benner:

that's crazy. Wow.

Jason Blitman:

mine

Brett Benner:

We went with friends of ours to the south of France, and we stayed at this place called Bastille de Moustier in Moustier, France. It was this tiny little town, but the the hotel. It was Alain de Cass, who is a Michelin star chef. His, his training ground for his, Chefs to be your protégées, so I think there were only like 10 rooms and you'd go in the back where the gardens where everything was taken from and you had every night a standing reservation. You just had to show up whenever you wanted between 7 and 10, and if you weren't going to come in, they'd bring somebody else in, but it was just incredible. And I just never been anything like this little hilltop town that was so removed from like nothing like you have in America.

Jason Blitman:

Wait, we never heard what your favorite Fleetwood Mac song was.

Claire Lombardo:

I think secondhand news, which is in um, or I like Tusk.

Brett Benner:

Oh yeah. Don.

Claire Lombardo:

yeah. Uhhuh. Um, Yeah. Are you, is that surprise? Is that bad? Are those bad?

Brett Benner:

No.

Jason Blitman:

no. I was just curious. It's so funny. Cause like I was like never like a huge Fleetwood Mac person.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

My husband is a fan. And like within the last year and a half, he'll just put on rumors. every once in a while we'll be like cooking or we'll be on a road trip or something and that'll be, that's like the thing. And I'm, I don't know if it's that we've hit a certain age or what, but like all of a sudden we're like Fleetwood Mac people.

Claire Lombardo:

I know it's it happens. I don't know. there's like a before and after. I don't know. I don't know what that's about.

Jason Blitman:

people. He would probably argue, he'll listen to this and be like, I've always been a Fleetwood Mac person.

Claire Lombardo:

It was, there was no before and after for

Brett Benner:

That's Franklin's bopping around the house singing Don't Stop. Or Songbird.

Jason Blitman:

And don't stop. Again, you say in the book, like We all only think about one thing

Claire Lombardo:

Yes. Yes. I know. Bill Clinton. Yes.

Brett Benner:

Yep.

Jason Blitman:

For better or for worse.

Claire Lombardo:

I'm for worse for me.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

like ruined the song. It's a great song, but all of a sudden it's I just imagine him with like his saxophone. I'm like, no, no, no. Let me just enjoy the song.

Claire Lombardo:

do

Jason Blitman:

Anyway.

Claire Lombardo:

that. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

Drama!

Jason Blitman:

I know. I, there, it's so funny because I could sit and talk to you all and I'm

Claire Lombardo:

You guys are a delight.

Jason Blitman:

Because I still have a laundry list of things that I want to talk to you about, and I will get to because we're going to be in conversation.

Claire Lombardo:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

We'll be in conversation at Warwick's on June 25th in San Diego. To find out more information, go to warwicks. com slash events. And I can't wait to ask you more questions there.

Claire Lombardo:

looking so forward to it. I'm very excited about it at

Jason Blitman:

you're a delight.

Brett Benner:

You're

Claire Lombardo:

As are both of you. Yeah, this was really fun. I would talk to you for the rest of the day, but I know you have other people

Jason Blitman:

And you probably have other things going on too.

Brett Benner:

You have a wall of post its.

Claire Lombardo:

I do have a wall of post its that's about to fall on me. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I know that this book hasn't even come out yet, but is there anything in the future that we can look forward to from Claire Lombardo that we should keep our eyes out for?

Claire Lombardo:

I mean, I've started something new, but I Don't know,

Jason Blitman:

Just some, yeah, no,

Claire Lombardo:

my Yeah, I'm looking forward to it's funny when you spend so much time with characters like I've spent the last eight years with Julia, it's weird to think about Oh, I just have to go make new friends now and she's not my friend anymore. But I'm looking forward to that too, because it's important to make new friends.

Jason Blitman:

Let Julia be your Mary Poppins. She came into your life at a moment that you needed her and now you're on to the next.

Claire Lombardo:

That's a good way

Jason Blitman:

god, amazing. Claire, thank you so much for being here.

Claire Lombardo:

Thank you both so much. Lovely to see your faces.

Jason Blitman:

Yours too! Check out Same As It Ever Was by Claire Lombardo and The Most Fun We Ever Had. Maybe it'll be the most fun you've ever had at our bookshop. org page. and we'll see you next week for the final week of Pride, with two tremendously exciting guests. And I can't wait for you to hear them. So stick around. We'll see you next week.

Brett Benner:

next week I