I thought it was fitting to kick off my #WomensHistoryReads interview series -- an interview every day in March with a woman writer who brings us the stories of amazing women in history -- with a writer who has a special knack for finding and telling that particular type of story. From Melanie's debut novel ALICE I HAVE BEEN (about Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland) to her more recent bestsellers THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE (socialite Babe Paley and her pal Truman Capote) and THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE (screenwriter Frances Marion and silver screen star Mary Pickford), she has consistently wowed readers with the stories of women in unique circumstances, yet who still struggled with the same challenges common to us all.
Brief note: all of my #WomensHistoryReads interviews are in a format I call Q&Q&Q&A -- I ask the author three questions and they wrap up by asking me one. Seems only fair to turn the tables sometimes!
With no further ado, here we go...
Greer: How would you describe what you write?
Melanie: Historical fiction that tells the stories of women – so far, women! – that have been overshadowed or told by men. I say so far, because I don’t limit myself to women’s stories. But the truth is, when you’re looking for untold stories of history, they are mostly women’s stories.
Greer: What’s the last book that blew you away?
Melanie: ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman.
Greer: What book, movie or TV show would your readers probably be surprised to find out you love?
Melanie: The reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” that was on the SciFi channel a few years back. [Greer: Me too! Brilliant stuff.]
Melanie: And for you -- What is the most frequently-asked question you’re asked about your novels by readers?
Greer: Everyone wants to know where we get our ideas! I don't always have a good answer. There's always a clear point of inspiration -- in the case of my most recent novel GIRL IN DISGUISE, it was Kate Warne, the first female detective -- but I don't write a book about every single interesting person who comes along. It takes something extra to goose that initial inspiration into the decision to commit years to a project. I can't explain what that is. But isn't that so much of writing? Inspiration beyond explanation?
Melanie's most recent novel is THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE (Delacorte Press, 2018); her website is melaniebenjamin.com.
Tune in tomorrow for the next #WomensHistoryReads interview, all month long!