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Dolly Parton dishes on Dollywood updates, James Patterson, new projects

Dollywood got a facelift in 2022. Dolly published her first novel. She now has three albums and two movies in the works.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — During her recent return to Pigeon Forge to open Dollywood for the 2022 season, Dolly Parton took some time to talk about a little bit of everything.

She said she was thrilled to be back in the park for the first time since 2019 with Dollywood's lifted COVID-19 rules and some updated amenities for visitors to enjoy.

"Everybody was feeling so free. It just felt like a whole new day, and I hope it continues. And if it don't, we'll try to be careful again, but right now, things are good," Dolly said. "It feels good to be in a playful place where we can kind of just be free to do what we need to do."

She said the park's facelifts and the anticipated 2023 opening of the Heart Song Lodge also added to the excitement of the day.

RELATED: Dolly Parton kicks off Dollywood's 2022 season

Aside from the work on the theme park, Dolly's very busy schedule just keeps on going for the rest of the year.

She recently published her first novel called "Run, Rose, Run" that she co-wrote with James Patterson. Being Dolly Parton, she also released a new album to go with the novel with a set of new songs she wrote herself.

"When he said he wanted to write a book with me, I said, 'Now, I'm not the kind of person that will put my name on something that I'm not involved in. I just want you to know that.' And so he said, 'Oh, no, no.' He said, 'Some people don't work as much as others.' I said, 'Well, I will be involved,'" she said.

Watch the full interview:

Dolly said she and Patterson "became instant friends" and the pair had a great time collaborating on the story.

"Run, Rose, Run" is about an aspiring songwriter trying to make it in Nashville and dealing with the cost of fame. It follows a similar theme to a song Dolly wrote called Sacrifice, which deals with what someone gives up to attain fame and success.

RELATED: Kelsea Ballerini joins Dolly Parton on audiobook of 'Run, Rose, Run'

"The cost of fame for me, though, I've been able to enjoy my life. Mine is more like a way of life. It's not just something I do. It's who I am, and so it naturally just comes easy for me like that. And I like to work because it kind of keeps me from driving everybody crazy," Dolly said.

Of course, she's not stopping there. Dolly is turning "Run, Rose, Run" into a movie and intends to star in it as a character named Ruthanna who mentors the main character, AnnieLee.

Credit: Elizabeth Sims
Dolly Parton talks with WBIR anchor Beth Haynes about what's new in 2022 at the DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

With her novel done, Dolly is already looking ahead to future projects and events.

She is performing at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March. She has a new Christmas album coming out in December. She is releasing a gospel album in the fall.

Her recent nomination for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inspired a new project set to release at the beginning of 2023. Though she turned down the nomination because she didn't feel like she earned it, Dolly is working on a rock and roll album.

RELATED: Dolly Parton 'respectfully bows out' as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee

"This is really a lifestyle for me. I'm used to doing that. I've done it all my life, and I like the excitement of it," she said. "You keep your energy up, and energy begets energy."

When she does stop, Dolly said she likes to read and visit family before it's time to take on the next project.

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