On a bitter cold Friday night more than 100 fans attended a presentation and book signing sponsored by the Lake Forest Book Store. We all came out to the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire, IL to meet author Melanie Benjamin. Her current book is historical fiction about Anne Morrow Lindbergh titled “The Aviator’s Wife.”
My friend Susan and I (with my service puppy in training “West” see his tab if you are not already familiar with him) took seats about six rows back and took off some of the layers of our winter clothes. I was quite happy to have West, my personal foot warmer laying in front of me. This event was held after the regular hours of the library and at the beginning of the presentation the room was not quite warm enough for me.
A library employee gave a brief but enthusiastic introduction and Melanie Benjamin stepped to the podium. Melanie is attractive and animated with strawberry blond hair and a near constant smile. I hesitate to describe her as cute although she is. She is a woman with poise, experience and intellect and somehow calling her cute seems an inappropriate stereo type.
Melanie thanks Lake Forest Book Store and the library for hosting the event then begins telling us about herself. She has always loved books but did not dream about being a writer. She wanted to be an actress and step into different roles. She shares that she was in community theatre and enjoyed it. Then in her early 30’s she found that she could continue to experience different roles from the perspective of writing. Melanie wrote for local magazines and newspapers. Soon she began writing novels. Her first novels, were published using her real name of Melanie Hauser. Melanie was very open as she told us these books were not successful. She said they really were not very good but that she learned from them. She changed her style and pen name and her career blossomed.
Writing as Melanie Benjamin and using her love of history, Melanie has success with her first two novels, “Alice I Have Been” and “The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb” and now with “The Aviator’s Wife” which also will be made into a movie.
Historical Fiction is a blend of facts and imagination. Melanie explains that she does extensive research for her books. Then she creates dialog based on what is known about the circumstances and the people.
Melanie generated interest in her book by telling us facts about Charles and Anne Lindbergh. I was familiar with the historic first flight across the Atlantic Ocean and of course the Lindbergh kidnapping but did not know anything about Anne. She has her own legacy having been a pilot and an author. I did not know that Charles was known as a difficult person, in hind sight believed to have had Asperger Syndrome. I did not know that he was anti-Semitic. The audience is collectively shocked to learn that Charles Lindberg fathered 13 children. Charles had had numerous affairs. Melanie assures us that this was in all well documented in the major newspapers after the death of Anne in 2001.
I find I am leaning forward in my seat listening intently. My knowledge of history is lacking. I can only blame my education for a portion of this as I have been out of school for quite a long time. The idea of historical fiction really appeals to me. Having the information in story form will be an adventurous way to learn.
Book reviews for “The Aviator’s Wife” are impressive. Critics praise Melanie for her writing and for her accuracy. Yes, I will learn a lot from Historical Fiction.
Melanie spoke for about 15 minutes. She again graciously thanked the book store and library for inviting her. She told us that she believes in supporting local book stores and explains how you can too. Melanie recommended the Kobo eReader and/or app; so you can designate an independent bookseller as your “store” and then, when you order eBooks, that store gets a small percentage. Here is the website: www.kobobooks.com .
As Melanie welcomed questions she continued to be engaging. Her years in community theatre have honed her entertainment skills. She spoke clearly and had great comedic timing. Her jokes seemed fresh. She laughed along with her audience. Susan leaned towards me and said “Isn’t she delightful?” That is it exactly, Melanie Benjamin is delightful.
At the conclusion of the question and answer period, we were invited to form a line for book signings. I am collecting 64 autographs on fabric for my quilt project, Fall in Love with Books, I cannot afford to buy a book from every author. Respectfully, I waited for people with books to get in line and then took my place at the end.
People asked about my dog. I had come prepared with literature about service dogs. I explained that West is in training and gave permission for a few people to pet him. In some circumstances, with permission, a service dog may be pet.
After about 15 minutes, I was at the front of the line. Melanie greeted me with a smile. I said how much I enjoyed her presentation and then asked her to sign fabric for a quilt. Melanie not only agreed, she showed interest in my project and asked me to send her an email so she can help promote this project on twitter and Facebook. Of course I agreed with enthusiasm. With permission, I had West place his front paws on the table so he could meet Melanie face to face. It was clear that they enjoyed meeting each other.
In addition to promoting a way to support local book stores, Melanie donates to literacy non-profits and food pantries. What charities do you give to? To earn entries to win the quilt with an autograph from Melanie Benjamin and 63 other authors, make a donation on line to a non-profit. Join Melanie in supporting literacy or food pantries, ~OR~ donate to the charity or charities that are most meaningful to you. Please see the Thank You Reward tab for more details, including pictures.
Signed copies of The Aviator’s Wife are available at: http://www.lakeforestbookstore.com/
While on the site, be sure to review the future book signings. The Lake Forest Bookstore works with many libraries to bring author events to the public.
All the Best,