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Compulsory composition
Award-winning author Bonnie Nadzam talks about her book Lamb and its film adaptation at Central 52 in Argyle April 19. Nadzam moved to Blanchardville from Colorado about two years ago. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
ARGYLE - Award-winning author Bonnie Nadzam said while she was writing her first book "Lamb," the more she questioned whether her writing would be "allowed," the more she knew she had to continue.

Nadzam was introduced as a "literary star" by Argyle Public Library Director Sarah Kyrie for the "Life in Lafayette Author Talk" Thursday at Central 52 in Argyle. In her presentation, Nadzam compared scenes from her first novel "Lamb" to scenes from its independent film adaptation of the same name to a crowd of almost 20 people. Nadzam has had her writing appear in several well-known publications such as Harper's Magazine, Orion Magazine and Granta.

While completing a doctorate program at the University of Southern California, Nadzam spent a week writing "Lamb" in a cabin in Wyoming around 2007 and said she had no expectations of what would come of it.

"I didn't know if it would ever see the light of day," Nadzam said.

"Lamb" was published in 2011 and won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was later turned into an independent film starring Ross Partridge and Oona Laurence. The movie even had red carpet premieres in New York City and Los Angeles, but she said she couldn't attend because she was pregnant with twin boys at the time.

"Lamb" is the story of middle-aged man David Lamb, whose father recently died and whose wife left him. Lamb strikes up a friendship with an 11-year-old girl named Tommie and convinces her to go with him across the country to his late father's cabin.

Stephanie Eastwood of Woodford attended Nadzam's presentation after she found the book on display at the Argyle Public toward the beginning of winter. Eastwood said she found it to be a quick read and was hooked after reading the first page, finding it to be unlike anything else she has read.

"I loved the experience of reading it," Eastwood said. "The story is creepy, but what I love about the book is you never know what Lamb is going to do or how Tommie transitions in the story, whether she's going to be vulnerable or emerge and fight back."

Eastwood said she plans to read Nadzam's other novels.

"What I love about her writing is she uses very few words to get her point across," Eastwood said. "There's nothing wasted."

Barbara Smith of Argyle also attended the event and is interested in getting to read the book.

"It strikes me that the book seems to have shadows of 'Lolita,'" Smith said.

Nadzam told the crowd about the experience of getting to watch the filming of the film adaptation, expressing her appreciation of the editing process and what it takes to make a movie.

She played the ending of the movie for the crowd and explained to those in attendance why she felt the film crew did a great job. Nadzam said it was the first scene to be filmed for the movie. She was moved by how the performance caused the entire crew to be in tears by the time the scene was done.

Nadzam, originally from Cleveland but has lived in numerous places since, moved with her husband Jeremy to Blanchardville almost two years ago, a decision that was largely influenced by the presence of the Great Plains Zen Center in Monroe. Nadzam had studied at the Zen Center in Los Angeles and wanted to continue her studies with teacher Susan Myoyu Andersen, who is its director.

After "Lamb," Nadzam's second novel "Lions" was published in 2016. She's currently working on a third. She said she is hoping to have a workshop on creativity and writing through the Zen Center in the future.

In addition to writing, Nadzam works full-time from home as a freelance editor and does regular editing for a publishing house in New York. She does this as she also takes care of her 2-year-old twins.

Nadzam said she would like to take a break from writing to do more gardening and spend time with friends and family. But she hasn't because she said she can "already feel the next idea knocking" in the back of her brain. It is similar to why she became a writer in the first place after never intending to do so, due to what she describes as "some horrible combination of privilege, entitlement and not knowing what else to do."