By INDIANA NASH
NISKAYUNA- “I love to have a lot of things going on at once,” said author Anne Blankman, who published her third book, “Traitor Angels,” on May 3.
Blankman, who grew up in Niskayuna and moved out of the area only when her husband’s career moved the family down to Virginia several years ago, still remembers her english teachers in middle school and elementary school.
“They had such a big impact on me and when I came to speak at the school last year, some of my former teachers actually came out to hear me speak and support me,” said Blankman. She remembers her middle school teacher Mrs. Wein who taught her about symbolism and opened her eyes up to an “entirely different world.” Blankman remembers Marni Gillard, her sixth grade teacher who read all through all of Blankman’s 60-plus page stories and make meaningful comments and edits.
“I’ve loved writing as long as I can remember,” said Blankman. But when she went to Union college she majored in English and History, getting a graduate degree from SUNY Albany in Information Science.
Blankman worked as a librarian for a few years, where she was exposed to children’s literature. “But it wasn’t until after I had my daughter (Kirsten) that I knew I wanted to write professionally,” said Blankman. That was about four years ago.
It took courage to start, said Blankman. But she already had story ideas in her head and had a deep-seated background in research, which helped immensely as she’d decided to write young adult historical fiction.
Her first book, “Prisoner of Night and Fog,” was challenging to write, but exhilarating to write. “I wanted to strike the right balance between the history and the actual story,” said Blankman.
According to VOYA and the Jewish Book Council, she struck just the right balance.
“I signed a three book deal after attending the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) conference, “ said Blankman. While at the conference, she was able to covet a fifteen minute time slot with an agent who had read a sample of her manuscript. “We actually got kicked out of the conference room because we talked for too long,” said Blankman of the meeting. A week after this, she had signed a three book deal with Harpercollins.
She published the last book, called “Traitor Angels,” last week. “This one is very different from my first two,” said Blankman. This is a stand alone work, which Blankman describes as a ‘romantic, historical adventure’ story. It follows Elizabeth Milton, daughter of John Milton, during England’s Restoration period. When her father is arrested, it is up to Elizabeth to rescue him by unravelling a secret hidden with Paradise Lost.
This idea was originally sparked in college, when Blankman was taking a class on Milton’s works. “I had to do a lot of research on Paradise Lost and on Milton and I found that he had a secret meeting with Galileo . . . and no one knows what they talked about,” said Blankman.
However, according to Blankman, Milton found a way to include Galileo within Paradise Lost. “Almost all of the characters are biblical characters, but there is one who is known as an astronomer,” said Blankman. The mystery of Galileo’s relationship to Milton rattled around in Blankman’s mind for years before she decided to write about it in “Traitor Angels.”
For the next six weeks, Blankman will be busy with book signings, release parties, and book talks. At 2:00 p.m. on May 15, Blankman will be giving a book talk at the Schenectady Central Public library. “That one will be more of a formal book talk and signing,” said Blankman.
“I love meeting readers,” said Blankman, who is very much looking forward to all of the events surrounding “Traitor Angels.”
Although this is the last book in her book deal, she is already working on three other projects, which her publisher wishes not to release to the public yet. “I have to be active,” said Blankman. So far, that attitude seems to be paying off.