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October 2017 Dear librarian friends, To research my new novel, THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE, I had to go to Hollywood. I wanted to walk in the footsteps of those two amazing women I was writing about, Mary Pickford and her closest friend and collaborator, Frances Marion, and I did a lot of research at the Margaret Herrick Library (the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences research library). After a couple of mornings of waiting for my rental car to be retrieved by the valets, I realized that the wait for my car was getting longer and longer, while younger, blonder women (all aspiring actresses, I’m sure!) got their cars right away. It dawned on me that my hotel, The Hollywood Roosevelt, was full of beautiful, tanned LA people, and that middle-aged, bookish me was being ignored. But one day at the Margaret Herrick Library, I noticed two young women looking at me and whispering. They appeared at my research table, very nervous, and one of them asked, “Are you Melanie Benjamin, the author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE?” I admitted that I was, and—oh, the gushing! The giggling! They showered me with praise and I felt, finally, like one of the Beautiful People. All because of these two librarians. That’s what librarians do; they make authors feel like movie stars. And so, I’m especially thrilled to share with you that book that I was researching, THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE. It’s the story of the close friendship between two pioneers of early Hollywood. Mary Pickford and Frances Marion weren’t simply best friends; they were innovators and artists, women working in a man’s world, supporting each other. In abusive relationships and sweeping love affairs, during peacetime and war. The silent era and the talkies. By the time each had won an Academy Award (Frances, the first woman to win an Academy Award for best screenplay, won two), their careers were fully enshrined in the Hollywood Hall of Fame. Yet. There’s always a “yet,” isn’t there? Their friendship was tested. Bent. Nearly broken. Fame, different career arcs, love affairs, alcohol abuse will do that, even to the strongest of friendships. A friendship that was forged through a passion for these new “flickers” and a longing to be taken seriously as artists and professionals in a time when women simply weren’t supposed to put career ahead of marriage. A friendship that strengthened under the withering glare of the male executives, who seemed to dare these two women to fail. And that’s why this is so timely now; women in Hollywood are still struggling to make their voices heard. We can’t all be movie stars, of course. But one day, at the Margaret Herrick Library, I sure felt like one. And thanks to all you librarians, I know I will again. Melanie The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin | 9781101886809 | Delacorte Press | January 2018

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A Letter to Librarians from Melanie Benjamin  

Bestselling author Melanie Benjamin writes a letter to librarians about her new novel THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE.