Kathryn Witt, a free-lance writer based in Kentucky, published her first novel, The Secret of the Belles, earlier this month. The 124 page fictional book is based on Gone with the Wind, Ona Munson who played “Belle Watling,” and the 3-day film premiere in Atlanta, GA (GWTW author Margaret Mitchell’s hometown).
Ms. Witt’s website, www.KathyWitt.com, provides a teaser for this new book: “Lanie Sullivan and Belle Blakely never meet, but they share a fascination for all things Gone With the Wind—especially Belle Watling, a character in the book, and Ona Munson, the actress who portrays Belle in the movie. Lanie meets Ona in 1939, during the three-day movie premiere. When Lanie thwarts a thief in Ona’s hotel room, Ona rewards Lanie with a gift—a gift originally given to Ona by Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. More than sixty years later, as she helps prepare a museum dedicated to Gone With the Wind for its Grand Opening, Belle reads Lanie’s letters to Ona and is intrigued by Lanie’s references to the gift. Margaret Mitchell died in 1949; Ona Munson in 1955. What about Lanie? Belle begins a quest to discover what the gift was that connects the three women, where it is now—and what happened to Lanie Sullivan. . .”
I just finished reading this delightful little book–wow! It’s a page turner! Despite its ‘children’s book’ label, this 30 year old adult absolutely loved every page of Ms. Witt’s novel. It’s a charming book and a must read for Gone with the Wind fans of all ages. I first watched GWTW in the 7th grade when I was nearly the same age as the 2 main characters so I instantly identified with them and their passion. The film hooked me and I’ve been a huge fan of all things Gone with the Wind ever since. I hope this book sparks the curiosity of those young individuals who have not seen the film or perhaps have not read the 1000+ page book.
Ms. Witt is participating in the GWTW Re-Premiere weekend next month in Marietta, GA. You can see her at the Gone With the Wind Authors Q&A and the Author Book Signing event. Her book will be available for purchase at the Marietta GWTW Museum. Or you can buy the book at the Vivien-Leigh.com E-Store for $12.95, Borders.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or from your preferred bookstore.
V-L.COM: What inspired you to write The Secret of the Belles?
Kathy Witt: The Secret of the Belles actually began as a time travel concept based on one of my favorite paintings at the Cincinnati Art Museum. That was three years ago and I was on deadline to produce several chapters to share with my online children’s writing critique group, the Storyboard. I wasn’t getting anywhere with this project, so I put it aside and refocused.
There is an old writer’s adage . . . write what you know . . . and, feeling very frustrated at the time, I actually asked myself that question out loud, “What do you know?” I knew a lot about Gone With the Wind – and it was a topic I loved.
In my freelance work at that time, I’d been writing (a lot!) about the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum-Scarlett on the Square. Not only did I have all this research about the collection, I also had a ton of anecdotal information from the collection owner, Chris Sullivan, because I had talked to him so often for the various articles I was writing about the museum. It helped that I’ve always been a huge fan of the book and the movie, as well as of Margaret Mitchell and her husband, John Marsh – also a Kentuckian – and that I’d been to MM sites in Atlanta and to the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum and had toured around the town of Marietta.
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