Monday, May 25, 2020

Q&A with Melanie Benjamin

From my Q&A with Melanie Benjamin, author of Mistress of the Ritz:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

This title was more problematic than my others, for this very reason. We definitely wanted to have the word “Ritz” in the title, to both establish the setting and also, because the word connotes such luxury and excitement. After all, it’s even in the title of a song – “Puttin’ on the Ritz!” One of the things I’ve learned is that a title really should be short and to the point these days. For example, when we were discussing the book that became The Aviator’s Wife, I had some pretty flowery titles in mind – Between the Earth and Sky was my favorite. It’s lovely. It also doesn’t at all say what the book is about. And too, I’ve noticed that in recent years books with longer titles just don’t do as well. I think people these days have a hard time even remembering longer titles. So short and sweet it is, and finally someone said, “Well, it’s a book about an aviator’s wife, so let’s call it that.” And we did.

For Mistress of the Ritz, then, we knew we had to have “Ritz” in the title. I advocated for The Ritz in Love and War, but smarter minds convinced me that was too wordy and too vague and my novels have become known for their strong female protagonists, and we needed to make sure the title conveyed that. So the problem became how to describe this strong female protagonist. Who, exactly, was Blanche Auzello in relation to the Ritz? We went back and forth between “queen” and “lady” and “madame” – which I nixed because I didn’t want anyone to think she ran a house of prostitution! – before finally landing on Mistress. I have to admit...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

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.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls in the Picture.

Writers Read: Melanie Benjamin (May 2019).

Q&A with Melanie Benjamin.

--Marshal Zeringue