Ajemian Book Tour Solidifies Author’s Popularity

Although her book was released six years ago, author Margaret Ajemian-Ahnert’s popularity hasn’t waned.

Author Margaret Ajemian-Ahnert is joined by 90-year-old ALMA volunteer Anna Yeshilian during a recent week-long speaking tour throughout Merrimack Valley and Watertown.
Author Margaret Ajemian-Ahnert is joined by 90-year-old ALMA volunteer Anna Yeshilian during a recent week-long speaking tour throughout Merrimack Valley and Watertown.

In fact, it seems to have gotten stronger.

What initially appeared as a book club speaking engagement wound up as a week-long junket that stretched from southern New Hampshire and Merrimack Valley to Watertown, Mass., covering four engagements and resulting in dozens of additional book sales.

“We must have done something right,” said the eclectic author from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “People who’ve already read it once are reading it again. And those who haven’t are ready to dig in. It’s both gratifying and humbling for a first-time author to enjoy such success. Yes, there will be a second book. Meanwhile, I’m still enjoying the continued impact this one has brought.”

Ajemian was accompanied by her fiancé Ed Odabashian, a successful importer and investor who often joins the author on tours and speaking engagements. Ajemian launched her itinerary with an appearance at the Armenian Church at Hye Point in Haverhill, Mass., followed by an intimate book club gathering in New Hampshire.

Next stop was the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA), which drew a modest but inspired crowd on a hot, sultry evening. There she was greeted by guests from the surrounding communities, including 90-year-old volunteer Anna Yeshilian, who presented the writer with a handmade cross.

In return, Yeshilian received an autographed copy of Ajemian’s book, The Knock on the Door, which has enjoyed universal success with some seven printings since 2007. The tour culminated with a capacity crowd at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Chelmsford.

Ajemian was so enamored by a genocide memorial project in nearby Lowell that she immediately pulled out a checkbook and made a generous donation—so gracious, in fact, that it put the financial goal over the top.

Construction will begin in the fall with an unveiling planned for next April. Ajemian has been invited to return and participate in the unveiling.

“I’ve traveled all over the world and have addressed large crowds,” said Ajemian. “Some of the more intimate people are found in the smaller communities. The people in these smaller vistas represent the heart and soul of our heritage.”

Among the subjects Ajemian talked about were the emotional meetings she had with her mom Esther inside a New York nursing home; her private encounter with the Dalai Lama; and a repertoire of such outdoor activities as big game hunting, aviation and yachting.

Most proud is the scholarship program she funds in Yerevan for female journalism students named after her mom. The program was started 3 years ago and has reached 15 students, with 5 being added annually.

Audiences were also surprised to learn about her efforts in the art world. Ajemian holds a master’s degree in fine arts and literature, taught art appreciation in elementary schools, and lectured as a docent at the Metropolitan and Philadelphia Museums of Art.

She took a snipe at the government for not recognizing the Armenian Genocide and said she was pleased to see her book translated into Turkish. She is headed there in August for a tour, and will meet with Rackel Dink, the widow of Hrant Dink, the editor of Agos assassinated by Turkish terrorists.

Earlier this year, Ajemian addressed a large crowd at St. James Men’s Club in Watertown, and had appeared at ALMA for the opening of the Yousuf Karsh exhibit.

For the 100th anniversary in 2015, Ajemian preached unity. Matter of fact, she reiterated it.

“Whatever we do, it must be done together, under one umbrella, with all the churches and organizations throughout the world in unison,” she reminded her followers. “We have a history that refuses to die. Let’s honor it as one nation under God.”

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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