Auburn Author Blaney to sign copies of 'So the River Flows'

She combines information with imagination to produce compelling novels
By: Paul Cambra, of the Auburn Journal
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Book signing
1-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30
Where: LaBou’s, 2150 Grass Valley Hwy., Auburn (at New Airport Road)

Sierra Writers
1-4 p.m. Friday
Where: Madelyn Helling Library, 980 Helling Way, Nevada City

Pardon her if she digresses. But when Suzanne Blaney sits down to write a novel, they don’t always end up where she thought they might.
“I usually start with a very loose outline,” she said. “I get the facts together and somewhere along the way it gets set aside and I take off.”
Blaney, 83, has just finished her fourth book and second piece of fiction. An award-winning pastel artist, Blaney wrote her first book in 2003, The Little Book about Pastel, and in 2012, Adventure in Color won Honorable Mention at the San Francisco Book Festival. But it’s the world of fiction that most interests her these days.
“I like working on novels because you can let yourself go,’ she said. “They start out totally different than where they end up.”
The heroine of So the River Flows, Blaney’s new novel, was in Paris studying fashion design and was originally to come home to the States and pursue her career.
“But I decided to stick with the war and the Nazis’ invasion and she has a love affair and ends up not getting into fashion design at all,” Blaney said. “Instead she ends up in radio when radio was in its ‘golden age.’”
So there you go. But that’s a good thing, because judging by our conversation, Blaney knows a thing or two about those radio days and she didn’t once mention Christian Dior. Growing up in Southern California (she graduated from Hollywood High), Blaney said she was on the periphery of radio’s golden age.
“My mother worked in the radio world in Los Angeles in the days of Frank Sinatra,” she said. “I got tickets to go to all of the shows. Radio was a big deal in Hollywood at that time.”
She also had uncle who worked in the American consulate office in Paris just prior to World War II. She remembers reading one of his letters home; where he talked about establishing a store in the consulate because food was scarce.
“I brought that into book, how they would go scavenging in the fields,” she said. “It’s based on second hand information, combined with my imagination. The love story though totally has no basis.”
Blaney has lived in Auburn since 1987. She is a member of the California Writers’ Club, the Gold Country Writers, Placer Arts League and The ARTS of Placer County, and remains a Signature member of the Pastel Society of the West Coast.
“People keep asking me ‘when are you going to start painting again,’” she said. “I just don’t have the urge at the present time. I am working on my fifth book, but that’s taking a back seat until publicity for this one is out of the way.”
That would include a presentation with the Sierra Writers on Friday in Nevada City and a book signing on Saturday at LaBou’s on Hwy. 49 in Auburn.
Her next book will be a work of nonfiction, Impressionism – the Inspiration and Aftermath, about the political influences and times of the French artists who struggled to bring a new vision of art to the world and the growth and development that has come about since that time when they “broke all of the rules.”
Her next novel?
“It might have something to do with an artist,” she said. “I’ll see where it goes from here.”
And chances are it’s going to take a few turns along the way.