We Are Water is his 5th novel. Everybody knows his 1st novel, She's Come Undone, and his 2nd novel, I Know This Much Is True. You may also remember that both of these novels became selections for Oprah's Book Club. In fact, Oprah called Wally in 1992, when She's Come Undone came out, and told him how much she liked it (when she identified herself, he thought somebody was pulling his leg). And, then, 5 years later, when she started her book club, She's Come Undone was one of her early selections.
Here's an interesting story that Wally (my new best friend) told us. He said that after his 1st 2 books were so successful, he developed a bad case of writer's block. He was completely afraid that he wouldn't be able to write a book comparable to his 1st 2. He couldn't come up with a story line for a 3rd book for a whole year. Then, one day, while he was visiting in New Orleans, he stopped at Saint Louis Cathedral and literally knelt down and asked for help. He was writing his next book within a week's time. Since then, he has had numerous trips to New Orleans to visit his 2 sons, who were there for extended periods of time. Never once has he failed to go into Saint Louis Cathedral and say a thank you. It just goes to show you that inspiration can come from a variety of spiritual and feet-on-the-ground sources (I think his story is very cool - and I'm Jewish!).
Wally wrote We Are Water based loosely on a couple of real-life incidents from his home state of Connecticut. One is a flood that happened in 1963, and the other comes from a real-life black artist, Ellis Ruley, who married a caucasian woman in the days when that just wasn't done (late '40's-early '50's). He died in 1959 under strange circumstances. It was ruled an accidental death but could well have been murder.
He gave us a couple of anecdotes about the book. It seems that Dr. Laura is a central character in one of the scenes. When he asked the legal department about using her name, he was told that it was "probably" okay, and that there "probably" wouldn't be a lawsuit started. He also told us that his publisher, HarperCollins, hired 7 different voice actors for the audiobook. The 8th voice is his. He seemed pretty excited about being one of those 8.
For the last 14 years, he has been helping incarcerated women publish their stories. This guy is a real mensch - and a pretty fair author to boot.