Former RCAPS teacher publishes digital novel

BIG RAPIDS — After eight years of hard work, Marion native Connie Benchley Banks has published her first novel.

Benchley Banks, a Cadillac resident and former Reed City High School teacher, wrote "You Made Me Love You," which is a historical fiction novel set in 1915 and 1916. The first-person narrative tells the story about a girl named Helena as she grows up in Michigan. Helena's spirit of independence, desire to become a teacher and her chance at romance are only pieces of what readers can expect.

Benchley Banks said she compiled a number of stories she was told by women her grandmother's age through the years.

"I've always been enthralled with the stories of my grandmas or with the stories from other people's grandmas," Benchley Banks said. "The book is a culmination of a lot of true stories."

In addition to those true stories, Benchley Banks shaped the main character to have both her grandmother's personality and features.

She always had the desire to write a novel, but none of her ideas panned out until "You Made Me Love You." The work, however, was worth it.

"I didn't have much conviction until I started this book," Benchley Banks said. "For those who love historical fiction, it's real life and it's experiences of those living in northern Michigan."

She said the book is written so you can step into Helena's shoes and experience life as she does, addressing many issues including World War I and women's suffrage. Her favorite part of the novel, she added, is the beginning where the reader begins to learn about Helena's family life and personality.

"I feel like there are many learning experiences in this book," Benchley Banks said. "I think it teaches you something about history and how family relationships were in 1915."

The book is available to order on amazon.com and is only available in digital form.