Publisher: Langdon Street Press
Publish Date: January 16, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback
Order From: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / CharlieALoveStory.com / Kindle / Nook
Synopsis: Charlie: A Love Story tells of the beautiful love between Charlie, a Golden Retriever, and his best friend Barbara. When Charlie turned eleven and started having some health problems, a gardening journal Barbara was keeping quickly became mostly about Charlie. So his story is told in journal form while it is taking place. And because it was not meant for publication, it is an intimate look at an incredible connection between a canine and a human. And the story of that connection is told by Barbara, a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships.
Charlie’s story is far more than a depiction of his struggles against illness. Those years revealed the depth of his character, the wisdom he had gathered over his lifetime. And those years contained some of Charlie and Barbara’s most memorable times together, the culmination of their connection.
Charlie defied the odds, lived much longer than anyone thought he would. There was no rational explanation for some of what he pulled through, except that Charlie lived his life with an enthusiasm and vigor not found in many beings.
Charlie: A Love Story is about devotion, joy, loss, and renewal, about never giving up or giving in. But mostly it’s about a great love affair, the love between Charlie and Barbara.
Barbara Lampert's Bio: Barbara Lampert is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in relationships. She’s been in private practice in Brentwood, California for over twenty years. She considers her work a calling and loves what she does. She has a doctorate in medical sociology and two master’s degrees – one in psychology and one in sociology.
Barbara has adored dogs her whole life. They’re her passion! She considers them the magic on the planet. Barbara has had dogs most of her life and hopes to have at least one by her side always. She notes that for a lot of people, their dogs are their best friends. She loves helping people know that’s ok – that a soul-satisfying relationship may be found with any being and needs to be treasured.
Besides her love of dogs, Barbara is an avid gardener and finds herself gardening in much of her spare time. She sees her garden as a work of art. She loves being in nature – the miracle of growth, the ever-changing landscape, its beauty.
Today Barbara lives happily in Malibu, California with her husband David (married twenty-eight years!) and their six-year-old Golden Retriever, Harry.
Barbara hopes that Charlie: A Love Story will be a tribute not only to a magnificent dog but to all dogs everywhere.
Thank you so much for having me on your site! I appreciate this opportunity to connect with you and your readers and to talk about my beautiful dog Charlie and how his life story turned into a book.
First I think it important for you to know that I have adored dogs all my life. For me, they are the magic on the planet. Not only is Charlie’s story the culmination of all that love, but more importantly it was Charlie who inspired me to write his story. And then later, it was the thought that Charlie’s life might inspire others, and the desire to pay tribute to him, that compelled me to publish his story as a book. He was an extraordinary dog, and ours was an extraordinary relationship. Ultimately I wanted more people than just me, my friends, and my family to know about him and our relationship. I think his story not only is inspiring but also has themes that are universal.
For several years, I’d been keeping a gardening journal while landscaping my property in Malibu, California. Occasionally, I would write about Charlie in my journal. But when Charlie became eleven years old and started having some health problems, my journal entries quickly became less and less about gardening and more and more about him.
Writing about Charlie was comforting and provided another way to be with him and to think about what was going on with him. I could write about all his funny ways when he was younger and about how unique he was and how close we were. I needed to write about him, and I loved doing that. Each journal entry about him always made me feel better and closer to him. And I knew I could look back on those entries to relive many moments with him and to keep him with me after he wouldn’t be here anymore.
But my journal, like almost all journals, was never meant to become a book. I was hesitant to let others see what I’d written, because it was so personal and intimate, and because, being such a private person as well as a psychotherapist, I didn’t know if I’d be comfortable doing that. But now I’m so happy I didn’t let that stop me. Charlie is memorialized forever! I learned so much from Charlie, and now, because his story is published, so many other people will be able to learn from him too.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
That’s a difficult question to answer, only because implicit in my book there are so many messages and it’s hard to single out one. Already, in the short time that my book has been available, I’m so happy to see that a great many of the messages in Charlie’s story have been noticed and commented on by readers and reviewers.
Nonetheless, if I had to pick one, probably the most important message in my book is this: Hold dear any good relationship, whether it’s with a human, a dog, a cat, a bird, or any being. Relationships can comfort and heal – it’s the connection that’s so valuable in life. And try to connect with beings who are good for you. For animal lovers, take pride in your good relationships with your pets. Those can be as important as the relationships you have with humans. And for some people, maybe more important. And that’s ok.
There are so many other important messages in Charlie’s story, and space doesn’t permit listing all the ones I’ve thought about here. But recently I did a fifteen-minute online radio interview on Conversations Live! during which I discuss some of those messages.
The link to that interview is: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/middayconversations/2012/03/15/author-barbara-lampert-tobin-blake-on-conversations-live#.T2HCpdb53js.facebook.
If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Right now there’s nothing I can think of that I would change in my story about Charlie – it was truly a labor of love, and it received a great deal of care and attention. But I’ve received some requests from readers asking to hear more about my garden and what I know about plants, and I’ve been thinking of ways I might try to accommodate those requests. But, as it should be, the focus of my book is the story of Charlie, and in my mind everything else is secondary, even another passion in my life – gardening.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Maybe because it was about Charlie, there wasn’t anything hard about writing in my journal. I loved writing about him and always looked forward to doing that. The writing just poured out of me, straight from my heart. As I’ve said, I never anticipated that my thoughts about him might find their way into a book, so there really was no pressure. It was pure pleasure, written because I wanted to and needed to.
But if you include the editing, publishing, and promoting that are indispensable to a successful book, then it’s a totally different story. Then I’d probably have volumes to write about in answering this question. I had no idea how difficult it would be, after the writing, to put a book together and get it noticed! But being with Charlie for so long and seeing his tenacious, indomitable spirit has helped with these difficulties. He forged his way with vigor and enthusiasm through what most beings (dogs or humans) could not have. Inspiration, beyond words!
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
Yes, I have a newfound respect for authors! I’ve always loved books. A a child, one of my first thoughts about books was trying to figure out how, given the amount of time that most people get to live, I would be able to read all the books I wanted to. But I hadn’t given a lot of thought to the people who toil over them. It’s a difficult job. One that can be lonely, sitting quietly with words, then producing something that may or may not be used. One’s skin has to be tough. For one thing, the editing process is grueling. So now I have a much clearer understanding of what many authors must endure to do their work. But like any profession or job, I think it helps if you love it. It becomes so much easier to endure. I love Charlie, and I love to write, to teach, and to inspire, all of which has helped get me through the publishing process, which at times has been extraordinarily difficult.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been writing since I was a little girl and have always loved it. I started keeping diaries early on, still have lots of them. I even enjoyed all the writing I did in school – I actually loved writing papers. But I never thought of myself as a writer. It was just something I did that was fun. And even writing the journal entries that became Charlie’s story was not a conscious attempt at putting a book together. So it appears that I tripped into writing a book. That I am now a published author still seems like a foreign concept to me!
Who is your favorite author, and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have a number of favorite authors, but if I have to choose one it would have to be Ann Tyler. I wait patiently for her books to come out. I love her quirkiness, her vivid imagination, how she makes an entire compelling story out of the absolutely mundane! And I love how much she knows about human nature – as much as any psychologist I’ve ever known. My favorite of her books is Ladder of Years. I literally did not want that book to end!
Although you asked me for one favorite author, I need also to mention Hermann Hesse. I think he’s the quintessential storyteller. I hardly ever read a book twice, but I’ve read what I consider his masterpiece, Narcissus and Goldmund, three times. Such a profound depiction of a relationship. I would have loved to have met him and witnessed what must have been a very complex mind.
Tell us your latest news.
So much has happened after the publication of Charlie’s story, and much of my life since then has revolved around my book. It’s wonderful, but between all that goes into promoting a book and my “day” job of being a psychotherapist, I’m more than busy. And let’s not forget the necessity of ball games for Harry, my six-year-old Golden Retriever – it’s mandatory that there be several games a day (and not short ones, either)!
I’ve had two book signings, both of which were great. I’d never done one before and really didn’t know what to expect. Being an introvert at heart, book signings weren’t anything I ever saw myself doing. But I found that once I got there I loved doing them, mostly because I loved talking with people about their pets (mostly dogs, but a cat here and there). I have another two book signings coming up: one at Diesel, a bookstore in Malibu (my home town) on July 22, 2012, and a second at Curious Cup, a bookstore in Carpinteria (about an hour northwest of Malibu) on August 25, 2012.
As I mentioned earlier in this interview, I’ve also done an online radio interview. If someone told me a year ago that I would do a radio interview, I would have laughed and told them they were crazy. Well, I did the interview, it went really well, and I was proud of myself for doing it. Cyrus Webb, the host, is a truly professional interviewer and made it very comfortable for me.
I’ve done one blog tour, which was so good for me and for my book. I was able to connect with lots of people whom I would otherwise never have been able to meet. That first tour really got me thinking about what it means to have written my book – what I got out of writing it, and the messages it contains. That led me to want to do another tour.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes, to all of you who have read this interview, thank you! I appreciate your interest in Charlie’s story and me. And to all of you who have read Charlie: A Love Story or will read it, thank you so much – I really hope you enjoyed or will enjoy it. And I want you to know that you can contact me through my website, www.charliealovestory.com, and let me know your thoughts. Please feel free to tell me your own stories about your pets, or show me their pictures, or share your thoughts about my book. I love hearing from you and will get back to you quickly.
Again, thank you so much for hosting me today. Your wonderful questions have revealed a lot about Charlie’s story and about me. And for that I am very grateful. It’s been a pleasure.