Blaise was a big believer in book launches. She saw them as a celebration of all the hard work an author’s put into their book.
At Blaise’s funeral, her mother, acclaimed author and artist Lin Van Hek, spoke about how she and Blaise had picked something out for Blaise to read at Lin’s funeral, assuming the natural order that a parent would precede their child in passing. Lin spoke about how it was a ‘savage irony’ that she was now reading that piece for Blaise’s funeral.
One of Blaise’s literary cornerstones was her novel, The Colours of Ash. She had been working on it for about twenty years, juggling it and the other responsibilities in her life.
In the last ten years, she also wrote and published three other books: the publishing guide, The Book Book: 12 Steps to Successful Publishing, and the two memoirs, The Road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water (about her early life, growing up on a hippy commune in the 1970s), and 50 Days for Fifty Years (about walking the Camino de Santiago as a bucket-list item).
But I’d like to believe that her novel (and fiction) was her great love. She was a voracious reader – she’d read anything, but predominantly fiction. And the book was the literary love that she kept returning to, kept working on to get right.
She messaged me early in January to tell me she was planning to finally publish The Colours of Ash.
After she passed, her husband Kev, his friend/bookkeeper Kate, and I were going through Blaise’s work diary trying to get a sense of what else she’d planned for Busybird this year and found she’d tentatively pencilled in 15th May as a possible launch.
It’s another savage irony that she’d worked so long on this novel (over one/third of her life) and that she encouraged authors to throw book launches, to celebrate their book’s arrival into the world, and now we’ll have to launch her book without her.
But she’d finished with the actual manuscript, and was preparing to go to layout – that’s when the text is dumped into design software and formatted for printing. She’d also asked her son, talented artist Jack Howlett, to paint an image for the cover. It’s an image, I understand, she loved, as it perfectly represented what she had in her head.
She gave her husband, Kev, and myself just enough information that in the wake of her death, we were able to piece together what we needed to do finish The Colours of Ash.
That’s what we’ve done in the last couple of months. We hope we realised Blaise’s own vision as closely as possible to what she would’ve wanted.
The Colours of Ash will be launched tomorrow.
Here are the details:
2/118 Para Road
We hope to see you all there.