Ayer author channels Benjamin Franklin in new book

“Ben Franklin” to visit Groton bookstore on his birthday, Jan. 17

What better way to celebrate Ben Franklin’s birthday than having “Ben” himself make a guest appearance at Groton’s Second Hand Prose Books?

Ben (actually, his ghost writer, Tom Nalesnik), will be at the bookstore on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. to tell about his experiences and sign copies of his new book.

Second Hand Prose Books is located at 30 Hollis Street in Groton.

Book brings Franklin into the future

Imagine the scenario of founding father Ben Franklin time-traveling to our modern world. That’s just what Ayer writer Tom Nalesnik did, in his just-published book, “Ben’s Blog: Ben Franklin Discovers the 21st Century.”

This is the first book for Nalesnik, whose previous writing has been for newspapers, magazines, websites, brochures, newsletters and radio and TV productions.

“For anyone who ever wondered what Ben would have to say about our present-day American culture,” says Tom, “this is by far the newest and most extensive collection of Ben’s ‘commentary’ (fictitious, of course!) yet published.”

What inspired him to write “Ben’s Blog?” Tom explains, “Franklin himself was known for writing under pseudonyms, taking on the character of some fictitious person in order to tell a story or get his point across. So I thought, why not channel Ben, and write under his name?”

Since Tom has had ghostwriting experience working in corporate communications, adopting the character of Ben Franklin wasn’t that difficult. “Whenever I had the opportunity, I’d also weave some real facts from Ben’s life into the narrative. So essentially, the book is Ben’s ongoing journal about his experiences here in the 21st century. It’s written from his point of view, in other words, saying the kinds of things Ben would say, knowing his particular life experiences, beliefs and personal style.”

Not a dry history book

For those who might assume a Ben Franklin book is just another dry history text, Tom is quick to reassure, “Not at all. Among the founding fathers, Ben was the most colorful, most witty, and the most playful of all of them. And I tried to have Ben’s blogs show that side of him whenever possible. In fact, Ben was quite well known for his hoaxes, which in our day would be like practical jokes. So I devoted a few pages to Ben’s pranks, even offering a list of tips for modern-day hoaxters.”

Taking Ben into the streets

Putting Ben Franklin’s story on paper is just one part of Tom’s “mission,” however. In order to bring Ben into the 21st century, he also makes occasional appearances at community festivals and other venues dressed as Ben.

“I’ve gotten some interesting comments that way,” he said. “One young child thought I was Christopher Columbus, another thought I was a Pilgrim. And some older kids, probably middle-school-age, asked me to pose for a picture with them.”

How did he come up with the idea of taking Ben “public?”

“Hal Holbrook made a whole career out of doing Mark Twain. I thought, why not do Ben Franklin? It’s a fun way to spend my spare time, when I’m not doing my day job,” said Nalesnik.

At this point, however, the Ben hobby is not big enough to warrant quitting his “real” job as communications manager for The Winchendon School, a private independent school in central Massachusetts. “That’s where I really have fun, exercising my creativity!”

“Ben’s Blog: Ben Franklin Discovers the 21st Century” is available in both print and digital editions through Amazon.com.

To learn more about Ben’s appearance in Groton, contact Second Hand Prose Books at 978-448-2665.

For details about Ben’s Blog, contact Tom Nalesnik at 978-846-6282 or email him at andwordspread@gmail.com.