Award Winning Author Visits RCSJ-Cumberland

By: Connor Mason, Follow South Jersey Intern

NY Times best selling author, Melanie Benjamin, signs copies of her latest novel, “The Children’s Blizzard.” Photo credit: Connor Mason.

VINELAND, N.J. – Rowan College of South Jersey’s “One Book, One College” program hosted Melanie Benjamin, the New York Times best selling author who promoted her most recent book, “The Children’s Blizzard.”

The audience at the well-attended event not only learned about the novel but about Benjamin herself, who revealed that the idea of her recent novel came in large part because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of the audience lined up to get a book signed. Photo credit: Connor Mason.

“Blizzard was a metaphor for the pandemic,” Benjamin said. “There are parallels in this book that are very similar to what we’ve been going through the last two years. It is a story about ordinary people thrusting to extraordinary situations, about people making what is perceived as the right choice, and others making what is perceived as the wrong one, and the lifelong consequences of these choices and how they can divide a family and a community.”

Benjamin also revealed that her next novel is in the works, and that the plan is for this one to be “less tragic,” she joked. The title is “California Golden,” and the story takes place in the 1960’s about two lost sisters in California who have to embrace the changes in society during that time in order to find their way back to each other. The idea came from her love of Hollywood and her passion for performing before becoming a writer.

“I love Hollywood, I am a movie buff,” said Benjamin. “I love Turner Classic movies, and I just watch movies all the time. I love that early era of Hollywood even as early as the 1910s and the 1920s with women like Mary Pickford, who was the first actress to have a million dollar contract and her own production company, and then her own studio ‘United Artists.”

Benjamin said that her love of the combination of writing and performing go hand in hand in writing this next novel, and that she believes we need these kinds of stories to impact us all. 

“We need these stories now more than ever,” Benjamin said.

“An Evening with Melanie Benjamin” was sponsored by One Book, One College, RCSJ and the Cumberland Campus Educational Foundation.

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