Writing swept me away, like a wave, and I trusted it to take me places. Not much of a plan, but here we are...
DON WALLACE was born in Long Beach, California and now, after decades in New York City, lives in Honolulu, dreams in France, and writes about all four places and quite a few others in-between.
“On a tiny French island a couple of American dreamers redefine their lives by restoring a ruin--which in this lovely, shimmering story becomes a parable of a saner, greener, more sustainable path that we all can follow if we will but listen to the wisdom of the villagers the way the Wallaces did. The French House moves to a soulful, very funny rhythm all its own.”--Meryl Streep
“A brave, thoughtful, and very amusing memoir about a fantasy that many of us have had but not dared to attempt.”--Jane Smiley, bestselling and Pulitzer-winning author of A Thousand Acres
“The only question is which you’ll fall in love with first, Don Wallace’s plucky family, or the enchanted French island on which they (re)build their dream house. Lyrical, funny, and poignant, The French House is the next best thing to an extended vacation by the sea.”--Kevin Baker, The Big House
“In this beautifully written, rich, moving story of a fabulous, resourceful and utterly original family, Don Wallace has crafted a delicious French bon-bon of a book. THE FRENCH HOUSE is full of humor, hope, and I dare say, lessons on how to live a life full of meaning. I loved it.”--Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Devotion and Still Writing
“The French House isn’t a memoir. It’s a vacation. Charming, gorgeous, perceptive, it is peppered with unforgettable characters and steeped in the deep red wine of long-term friendship, showing us how a remarkable place can make a life worth living. You will never want to leave Belle Ile or Don Wallace’s inspiring tale of holding onto a dream despite overwhelming adversity.”--Jennie Fields, bestselling author of The Age of Desire
“You’ve never been any place as beguiling as Don Wallace’s Belle Ile. He’s a funny, literate raconteur with a story full of fine twists, soulful turns, and fantastic neighbors.”--William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
DON WALLACE is a graduate of Long Beach Polytechnic High School, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. He wrote the 2010 documentary film "Those Who Came Before: The Musical Journey of Eddie Kamae" about the search for the last unrecorded, original Hawaiian music, which was the closing night selection of both the Hawaii International Film Festival and the Pacific Rim Film Festival. Currently senor editor at Honolulu Magazine, he has been executive editor of Yachting and Golf Digest Woman magazines, features/books editor of SELF, senior editor of Success and MotorBoating & Sailing, editor in chief of Travelers Advantage and literary and film editor of The Honolulu Weekly. He also bodysurfs.
WALLACE blogs around, most often at donwallacefranceblog.tumblr.com and asaltyblog.blogspot.com. His twitter handle is @don212wallace and you can find quite a few photos of life in France and Hawaii on his Pinterest pages: Just Google "Don Wallace Pinterest" and check it out. He's on Instagram, pretty lamely @donwallace212. He also sings, loudly and off-key.
THE AUTHOR OF FIVE BOOKS (if you count the young adult WaterSports Basics, Prentice-Hall, 1985), Wallace has written for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harper's, Fast Company, The Surfer's Journal, Islands, Wine Spectator, and others. A poet, a pirate, a pawn and a kingly prose stylist, he also cooks.
THE FRENCH HOUSE: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Retored Them All (Sourcebooks, 2014);
A TIDE IN TIME: The Log of Matthew Roving, Book One (Kindle Direct, Smashwords, 2014);
ONE GREAT GAME: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First-Ever National Championship High School Football Game (Atria; 2003);
HOT WATER, a novel (Soho Press, 1991);
WATERSPORTS BASICS (Prentice-Hall, 1985).
DON WALLACE received the Pluma de Plata Mexicana for reporting on Baja California, the Michener Prize from the Copernicus Society for a first novel, Author of the Year recognition from the U.S. Naval Institute for a serialized novel in Naval History Magazine (A TIDE IN TIME: The Log of Matthew Roving), and the Eagle Award from The New York Times (employee recognition). He was a MacDowell Colony Fellow and accepted to Yaddo. His work won selection in Next Stop Hollywood: Short Stories Bound for the Screen (St. Martin's, 2007, ed. Steve Cohen).
WALLACE is married to Mindy Eun Soo Pennybacker, the author of DO ONE GREEN THING (St. Martin's) and features writer and book review editor at The Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper. She is by far the better surfer. They have a son, Rory, married to Kaitlin Wood Wallace. Rory speaks much better French.
For 40 years we've been part-time citoyens of a tiny village on a tiny island in Brittany, Belle Ile en Mer. Broke, working entry-level jobs, barely hanging onto our illegal New York City sublet apartment, we had no business buying the house, then a ruin. Here we are, when chairs were in short supply.
My new novel, though, is a multi-generational, multi-ethnic family story set in modern Honolulu. We'll keep you posted on its progress.
FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS WE"VE BEEN IN HONOLULU, where my wife was born and grew up in a Korean family that got out of the plantation and ended up making the first gourmet kim chee in the Islands. Halms, you'll know it by the gold label.