Before there was Kim Kardashian or Kate Gosselin or a “Real Houswife” from anywhere, there was Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump Stratton, or as she was better known, Mrs. Tom Thumb.

Vinnie, as she was called by her friends, was a perfectly proportioned woman but in miniature.  She stood only 32 inches tall and was happy to trade on her size for fame and adventure.  Not unlike today’s reality stars who will trade on their addresses at the Jersey Shore or their famous parents in a similar way.

Vinne was married to P.T. Barnum’s protege General Tom Thumb who was only slightly taller than she and their wedding was so talked about and publicized it actually pushed the Civil War off the front pages of newspapers and captured the imagination of Americans on both sides of the conflict.

I know when I read about someone like Vinnie in passing in a book or when I am randomly stumbling around on the web, I think “Hmmmm… interesting…. I should read more about this person when I have some time,” but somehow I never do.  Author Melanie Benjamin is another story.  Particularly drawn to the Victorian era,  she seems happy to not only do the research for us, but also happy to fill in the blanks in her beautifully imagined novels that get at the heart of fascinating characters like Mrs. Tom Thumb (in her new book THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB) or Alice Liddell (in her earlier book ALICE I HAVE BEEN).

When our regular contributor Denise Neary did a post about Melanie and her books several weeks back, I didn’t realize that Melanie and I were actually connected in a former life.  Well not exactly a former life, but former parts of both of our lives!  We actually met several years ago when I owned and operated a bookstore in the Atlanta area called Coffee Buy The Book, and Melanie was writing under a different name!  As soon as I realized we knew each other, I got both books, started reading, and called Melanie to see if she was up for an interview.  She remembered me right away (phew – that could’ve been embarrassing), and agreed.

So, of course in the interview, we talk briefly about our shared past, but mostly about the books and the characters she so fully realizes in them.  And I did get the teensiest of hints regarding what she is working on next!

As always, I hope you enjoy the interview!  And be sure to check out the rest of the author interview series on iTunes!

– Dana Barrett, Managing Editor