Claire Lombardo (photo by Michael Lionstar)

Every artist starts somewhere, and Claire Lombardo started in Oak Park. Lombardo is the author of The Most Fun We Ever Had, a debut novel the New York Times Book Review described as “a rich, engrossing family saga.” It caught the attention of Laura Dern and Amy Adams, who are now adapting it for HBO.

“I grew up on the corner of Iowa and Oak Park Avenue, just a few blocks from Hemingway’s birthplace,” Lombardo said. “Knowing that a famous author grew up right around the corner from me, made writing as a profession seem more tactile – more of a real possibility.”

Claire recently returned to Oak Park when The Hemingway Foundation hosted her for a book event at the Birthplace Museum moderated by author and broadcast journalist, David W. Berner. “It was a full house,” Executive Director Keith Strom said. “Claire attended school here in Oak Park and the community was ecstatic to celebrate her success.”

Lombardo says that her experiences in the Oak Park community gave her a solid foundation to pursue her artistic goals. “I had a couple of English teachers in high school – Mr. [Bill] Lovaas and Mr. [Richard] Zabransky –  who were pivotal figures in helping me realize that writing was something worth pursuing.”

Lombardo believes that one essential challenge for new writers is to find a supportive community – book lovers, fellow writers, mentors, and friends. “Writing can be a very lonely profession,” Claire admits. “I think the best thing you can do as a writer, professional or otherwise, is to find a community.” Teaching classes and appearing at book events, like her recent book-signing at The Hemingway Birthplace Museum, are opportunities to connect and draw energy from people who have a common passion for books and writing.

Through writing contests, author events, and book discussions, The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park strives to support the artistic community. We award a two-year Writer-in-Residence that includes a writing workspace in the Hemingway home, and the opportunity to mentor local high school writers. Help support the arts here at home by supporting The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. To find out about our events, volunteer opportunities and other ways to support the arts locally, go to

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