It’s A Book Thing Presents: An Interview with Diane Papalia Zappa, author of Dear Bobby: My Grief Journey
Author’s Bio: Diane Papalia Zappa
grew up in Fort Lee, NJ. She graduated from Vassar College in 1968. She earned
an MS in Child Development and Family Relations and a PhD in Life-Span
Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University in 1970 and 1971,
She then joined the
faculty of the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, attaining the rank of full professor at age 30. While there
she and co-author Sally Olds wrote A Child’s World (in its thirteenth
edition) and Human Development (in its fifteenth edition).
While at Wisconsin she
met Frank Zappa’s younger brother Bob, who was the marketing manager for one of
her textbooks. They married in 2015.
Her first memoir, The
Married Widow: My Journey with Bob Zappa, describes their relationship
since meeting in 1986. Dear Bobby describes how she handled her Grief after he
died in 2018.
Deliah Lawrence: What inspired you
to write your book?
Diane Papalia Zappa: This book, Dear
Bobby: My Grief Journey, was inspired by reactions to my debut memoir, The
Married Widow. Many widows told me that they found that book helpful in
coping with the loss of a spouse or partner. So Dear Bobby was a natural
outgrowth. In it I talk about what helped me cope, focusing on how writing
letters to my late husband helped ease my pain. The centerpiece of this book is
26 of those letters.
DL: How do you handle
DPZ: Before I actually sit
down to write, I like to mull things over in my mind. This may take time, but
when I actually begin to write, the words flow quite easily. By approaching my
writing this way, writer’s block hasn’t been an issue.
DL: What were
some of the challenges when writing this book?
DPZ: Writing the letters
was a very emotional experience since in them I tell Bobby how I’m doing and
reminisce about things and experiences we shared. Some brought me to tears and
readers have told me the letters have brought them to tears as well.
DL: What was the best
writing advice you’ve ever been given?
DPZ: Write because you
have something to say, never for the royalties. The money may or may not come
but if you have a story to tell, let that be your motivation.
DL: If you could
choose a superpower, what would it be and why?
DPZ: I would choose
dimension hopping: the ability to travel between different dimensions and
universes. I’d love to be able to visit my husband in the afterlife and my
family and friends on Earth!
DL: If you were
hosting a dinner party which three authors would be your dream guests and
DPZ: I would invite my
late husband (who wrote Frankie and Bobby: Growing Up Zappa), his late
brother musician Frank Zappa (who wrote The Real Frank Zappa Book), and
psychic medium Matt Fraser (who wrote We Never Die: Secrets of the Afterlife).
I had never met Frank and would love to see the brothers interact. Matt channeled
Bob in a private reading a couple years ago. And, of course, I’d love to have
another dinner with Bobby.
DL: What are three fun
facts about yourself?
DPZ: 1. I haven’t driven a
car since 1989 when I moved to Manhattan. 2. Mac and cheese is my favorite
comfort food. 3. British actor Martin Clunes (star of Doc Martin) was a friend
of Bobby’s. He came over for a sushi dinner when he was filming in Manhattan.
DL: Would you like to
share an excerpt from Dear Bobby?
After Bob died, I began to write him
letters…. In my “Dear Bobby” letters, I share with him memories of
things we enjoyed together and explain how I’m doing. Writing to him allows our
relationship to continue. It helps keep our love alive. Here are two letters:
July 28, 2019
So, I think this will be my new
project. Writing to you as the spirit (so to speak) moves me. I really miss
being with you, having dinner, cooking, joking around, the cocktail hour. The
little things that make up a life together. I miss turning down the sheets with
you before we go out. I miss you turning on the music before we would go to
sleep. I haven’t been able to do that since you passed away. I miss you asking
me if I’m cold and then turning your back to me to warm me up. I miss checking
if that solitary hair had grown back on your nose.
I simply miss vou.
One of the things I
remember most fondly is when we’d wake up together every morning, you right
next to me. Before going to the kitchen to make your breakfast and my coffee,
you’d hold me in your arms, brush my hair away from me face, and kiss me on the
forehead. Then you’d murmur “Good morning, Mrs. Z.” It’s such a precious
memory. And I miss it.
DL: What new projects
are you currently working on?
DPZ: I have a new website
that covers both Dear Bobby and The Married Widow. I plan to blog
there. I’d also love to write a third book, and I hope ideas will come after I
see reactions to Dear Bobby.
DL: Where can
readers learn more about you and purchase your
DPZ: Readers can get more information
- Website: dianepapaliazappa.com
- Amazon Author Page:
Diane Papalia Zappa
- Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/diane.papalia
- Instagram: dianezappa
DL: Thanks so much for
being here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you
and your work.
DPZ: Thank you!