Monday, February 21, 2011

Melanie Milburne: Translating Love

I was asked to travel to Sydney to be the official love translator for Artline pens in conjunction with Harlequin Mills and Boon for St Valentine's Day. I was expecting a tongue in cheek sort of deal but in fact, it turned out to be one of the most moving experiences of my life.

I was set up by the company in Pitt Street Mall which is the main shopping thoroughfare. I had lines of people queuing up to speak to me about what they wanted written on their cards. Of course I wrote some funny things but mostly people (especially the men) wanted something truly romantic. I sat for four hours without a break on the Friday and Monday, not because I wasn't allowed to move but because I just couldn't tear myself away as person after person told me how much they loved their partner. One elderly gentleman stood out from the crowd. He told me St Valentine's Day was his wedding anniversary and would I write a card to his wife as he wasn't very good at that stuff. Then he told me his wife had died fifteen years ago and that he was going to take the card I wrote out to her grave. I had tears running down my face as I wrote what he wanted to say on that card.

Writing is something most of us take for granted. We can write a shopping list or an epic love story but we are still putting words on the page in some sort of order that can be understood. Indeed, some of us are much better at writing than speaking. I don't know about you but I am not a telephone person. Don't get me wrong, I love my mobile phone and would be lost without it but I text more than I call. That's what I love about email. You can just send off a quick or long message without being stuck on the phone for longer than you want.

But imagine if you couldn't read or write even the simplest words? Sadly that is the case for many people. My heroine Jade Sommerville in The Wedding Charade is one of those people. I really felt for her as she had so many obstacles to overcome but she didn't have the skills we take for granted every single day. To her it is a shameful secret that she will do anything to keep covered up, including agreeing to a marriage of convenience to her arch enemy Nic Sabbatini.

Nic Sabbatini has to fulfill the terms of his late grandfather's will or be disinherited. He had vowed never to marry anyone and the thought of tying himself to the wild child Jade is unthinkable. But then Jade has rather a persuasive way about her!I loved writing Jade and Nic's story. I think to date Jade is my favorite heroine. I hope she lives long in your memory as she has in mine.

And the next time you pick up a pen to write something, think of all those people who would give anything to be able to do that.

I will send a signed copy of The Wedding Charade to someone who describes what they would find hardest in not being able to read and write.

Best wishes,
Melanie Milburne


pageturner said...

Reading to me is as natural as breathing - if I'm stuck in someone's house without anything to read, I roam the place reading cereal packets and recipe books. And despite email and texting, I still write proper letters to my brother overseas, just as he does to me. People used to sleep with a letter under their pillow in hope they'd dream of their sweetheart - I don't see it working with an email printout!

desere_steenberg said...

Hello Melanie

I hope you are doing well. As you know I already own signed copies of this STUNNING BRILLIANT trilogy of yours so please do not enter me for the contest, I just wanted to say I think this post was truly stunning and extremely inspirational !

You had me crying so badly with the story of the gentleman who's wife died but I know that the card you wrote is going to make her very happy even though she is up in heaven already !

Brilliant work Melanie and if I was on that side of the world I so would have been there to get my own card !

Take care

Laney4 said...

Although dozens of problems come to mind when thinking about the loss of reading/writing, I "think" that the most difficult would be the lack of scrapbooking. I am currently converting my magnetic photo albums to acid-free scrapbooks. For every dozen photos taken, I probably keep two or three pictures, and then write a brief description of the event. My albums start in the 1800s with pics given to me by extended family, and I treasure each one. (It's only the more recent photos - where we took a roll of film and kept every single picture on the frame - that I need to condense.) Yes, I would still have the pictures with or without reading/writing, but I wouldn't be able to label each page with dates and names. Sharing our heritage is VERY important to me, and I always strive for accurate detail.

EllenToo said...

Reading is how I spend most of my time not that I am retired and live alone and I can not imagine not being able to read....what would I do???

Kirsten said...
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Kaelee said...

Not being able to read would be devastating to me. It is such an important part of my daily life. I'm trying to imagine life without the ability to read and write and it would be a very hard thing indeed. I forget things now if I don't make a list of things to do and shop for. I guess my memory would take have to improve or life would get pretty messy. I'd probably have to watch TV or hopefully listen to audio books to entertain myself. In the summer I garden but in the winter I'd have to find something to do. Any of the hobbies I used to do require some reading skills. I'm just really thankful that I can read and write now.

Melanie Milburne said...

Lovely comments, ladies, and I agree with you all. Reading is such a joy and we would be lost without it.
Ellen, I often think of when I get older and have more time on my hands. I am looking forward to reading all day!
And Desere, it is always lovely to have you pop by. I would have loved to see your face in the crowd. I had quite a few fans drop by which was really special.
Laney, I haven't got into the whole scrapbooking thing but my husband has made backups of all of our photos and has done one album. He has about twenty odd years to go! I stopped doing it when I started dabbling in writing. So many photos, so little time.
Kirsten, my favourite books are like old friends to me. There are quite a few I reread and I get so much pleasure out of it. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

Estella said...

I am a book addict. Not being able to read would kill me.

chey said...

I would be lost if I couldn't read or write. So much of my life revolves around one or the other. I'd miss reading for entertainment.

Melanie Milburne said...

Hi Estella and Chey,
I am the same as so much of my life revolves around reading. And it is such a wonderful form of entertainment. Nothing better except maybe a good movie!

Bron said...

One of our writing group has MS and she can't type. She dictates her book to a friend to type up. I don't know how she does it. I couldn't think very well if I had to talk my book in order to write it.

If I couldn't read or write I'd invest in talking books big time! Seriously - I have enough friends and family to help me learn to read or to read to me..

Melanie Milburne said...

Estella can you email me at as I have chosen you this time. Hope you enjoy the book and thanks everyone for contributing.

desere_steenberg said...

Thank you Melanie and congratulations to Estella !

Mary said...

Thank you for the wonderful post. I spend so much time reading and I don't know how I would get by if I couldn't. I use reading as a way to de-stress and relax. I just can't even imagine not being able to.

Michele L. said...

Wow! To not be able to read or write would be very difficult for me. What an inspirational blog you wrote! Congrats on your book Melanie!