Suzanne Blaney Art and More

This weeks writer is also an artist! A wonderful combination of creativity. Suzanne Blaney started her career as a pastel artist, wrote art books and then added two novels! She is working on another art book, even as we speak.

SBlaney_Somewhere_eBook_Cover-187x300Tells us how you started.

Art became my first career after beginning private lessons in 1973 and later study at the California College of Arts & Crafts. By 1986, I worked almost exclusively in pastel and joined the Pastel Society of the West Coast. I was on the Board of Directors for 13 years, becoming President and then Newsletter Editor for 8 years. The latter spawned an interest in writing my first book in 2003, The Little Book About Pastel. I was hooked. While I still painted for a while, writing took over my passion. I began collecting notes and drafted a novel, but they sat on a shelf for some time. (Those notes and a few parts of the draft have now turned into my second novel.)

My second art book published in 2011, Adventure in Color – the Impressionism of Anita Wolff, is the biography, teaching and work of this internationally known artist—who also was one of my teachers.

Following this, I’ve written two novels, (Somewhere the Road Turns published this year, and So the River Flows, (now being edited and hopefully published this winter) I am now working on my fifth book–another art book: Impressionism – the Inspiration and Aftermath. This discusses the political and strict art situation of the mid-1800’s that spawned the radical change of early French Impressionists–and the aftermath as it spread beyond and into America, particularly California.

What influenced the way you tell a story?

I had no previous thought of becoming a writer—no particular training or mentor. I wrote the first book about pastel, because I knew the subject and thought it would be helpful to others. Afterward, I just found it enjoyable—(and now has become somewhat of an obsession.) I think a little of everything influences the way one writes and tells a story: life’s experiences, family events, things learned along the way. As I wrote Somewhere the Road Turns, it digressed in progress from my original concept as new and more interesting scenarios led to others—just as our lives unfold along the way.

“So the River Flows” is an historical novel set in the mid 1930’s in Paris just prior to and during the Nazi invasion, and continues with the heroine’s life into the 1950’s in Hollywood, until she returns to Paris. There is a poignant love story involved. I used some of my mother’s experiences working in Hollywood during the 1950’s, as well as old letters from an uncle who worked in the Consular office in Paris just prior to the Nazi invasion. Otherwise, the thoughts came and the story took its course—with a lot of research as to events of the time.

Suzanne Blaney Pastel bookHow do you approach the art of writing?

I usually write every day – perhaps not always on a book, but also the many peripheral needs that writing requires: e-mail, research, promotion, blogs (which I don’t get to as much as I should), meetings, etc. I don’t schedule my writing, as too many of life’s necessities crop up, but I’m usually at the computer every day for a few hours—sometimes several hours. You might say it is in bursts as the thoughts evolve.

What do you read for pleasure? Growth? Latest recommend? Favorite author?

I love history. My personal library is filled with historical novels, biographies, and many of the “older” books. I put little notes in them to remember those especially interesting. My favorites over the years have been Michener, Irving Stone, John Jakes, Leon Ures– Mary Renault’s wonderful tales of ancient Greece, (which prompted an exciting visit there years back.) Right now I am reading Michael Korda’s “Hero” – the Life of Lawrence of Arabia. However—I also enjoy mysteries!

 Your books are a mixture of art books and fiction. Do you have a favorite? Maybe an excerpt from the book that I can share with readers?

As an artist, it is only natural to “write what you know.” And I have enjoyed writing these 3 art books. I was excited that Adventure in Color won an Honorable Mention at the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival. I am also excited that the Metropolitan Museum will allow me free use of 10 paintings to illustrate my book in progress (Impressionism – the Inspiration and Aftermath). However, writing novels and creating events and lives is more intriguing—such as my first novel. (It’s difficult to find an excerpt—so here’s just a brief synopsis)….

“Rejection of her previous affluent lifestyle results only in disillusion and loneliness for Maggie Ainsworth. One day, happenstance takes her to a small neighborhood delicatessen where she is offered a job. Months of happy productivity end abruptly when her grandfather reveals a long held secret. With the help of a detective, Maggie plunges into a desperate search for answers. She encounters danger in the process, but her quest proves successful, though tragic. However, events experienced along the way bring happiness and final peace of mind for Maggie–as well as for all the characters in the book.”

 Any upcoming events?

There are a few events in the works. I am preparing for a retrospective art exhibition at the Auburn Library’s Beecher Room that will be from November 1 through December 30. I will have a display of my books at the reception November 9, 3 to 6 pm

I’ll be one of 12 writers participating in The Gold Country Writers Book Faire at The ARTS in downtown Auburn October 26.Suzanne_Blaney

 Final words of wisdom?

I don’t know that I have any “Words of Wisdom.” The act of writing can be frustrating at times. Thoughts get bogged. Sometimes that specific word just won’t come and you want to pull out your hair. (And of course, the computer can act up.) There is a saying I keep on my refrigerator: “When you’re acting like a dragon, cook some marshmallows with your fire.”

Thank you Suzanne!

Speak Your Mind