Melanie Benjamin is New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife. Her new book, The Swans of Fifth Avenue is the #1 Indie Next Pick for February.
From Benjamin's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
I’m totally fascinated by the subjects of your novels, from Alice of Alice in Wonderland, to Mrs. Tom Thumb. And I love the whole idea of centering on the “swans” the glamorous society ladies of New York City’s Manhattan. So I want to know, what do you look for when considering who or what to write about? What particularly haunts you about your subjects, and do you see a running theme between each of them?Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.
I think I'm drawn to people whose public stories are fairly well known, but whose private lives seem to indicate that there was a lot more going on that we didn't know about or learn about. The liars of history, in other words. So far, I think the only running theme I see (but then again, authors are the very last people in the world to understand what they've written; readers get that so much sooner than we do!) is the theme of an unconventional love story. Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll); Lavinia Warren Stratton and P.T. Barnum; Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh. And now, Truman Capote and Babe Paley. Not all of these are affairs of the flesh but they are all affairs of the heart, in one way or another.
This novel seems as though it was a blast to research. What was the most fun? What was the least? And what surprised you?
Yes! It was the most fun I've had writing a book; I felt as if I were invited to the most fabulous party in Manhattan, with Truman Capote as host, and I was able to eavesdrop on every conversation. The parties, the entire era (an era in which everyone dressed to the nines, even just for lunch), the clothes, particularly - they were just so much fun to explore, and then write about.
The least fun part was...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Alice I Have Been.
The Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.
My Book, The Movie: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.
The Page 69 Test: The Aviator's Wife.
The Page 69 Test: The Swans of Fifth Avenue.