Marianne Blanchard -Author of “The Adventures of Red Wing Roussillon, an Irish Setter”

Published 10:00 pm Friday, May 23, 2014


When Marianne Blanchard and her husband traveled from the Gowensville area to Maryland, to purchase a smaller variety Irish setter named Red Wing, Marianne didn’t know at the time that life with Red Wing (whose everyday name became the more Irish-sounding “Riley”), would immortalize him with young readers, and would lead to her first book, which was published in late February.
Blanchard also could not foretell that Red Wing would guide her and her daughter, Susan Blanchard Duvall, now of Bullard, Texas, to a mother-daughter collaboration, as Duvall provided the illustrations. “The Adventures of Red Wing Roussillon, an Irish Setter” (Tate Publishing), written in the first person of Red Wing, is fictional, but is based on the tender, yet unbreakable real-life bond between a family and their dog. In the book, Red Wing speaks French, but each phrase in French is translated into English.
An audio version of “Red Wing” will be available very shortly. The book, available in hardcover and paperback, is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble, and should appear in smaller outlets as well.
Marianne, who has lived near Gowensville for ten years, has a background in French, and a love of animals (She’s ridden horses since age six, and “I’ve had nineteen rescue dogs, cats and horses.”),
At the close of his book, Red Wing introduces the main character of Blanchard’s next book, based on her first small pet dog and current companion, the alert and affectionate “Miss Deva.”
The collaboration between Marianne and Susan came at a needed time. When her husband Bob died, “spiritually, I was grieving,” Marianne remarked. “I thought, ‘Why not do something positive?’ I wanted to write children’s books.”
Susan “has been drawing her whole life.” In fact, Susan earned a fine arts degree from the University of Colorado.
Marianne noted that the publisher recognized Susan’s fresh artistic talent – a fortunate observation, since Marianne would not have used a separate illustrator. During the writing/illustration process, Marianne sent Susan short chapters from the book with family photographs. Susan employed the photos to create the drawings for the book.
“I like the collaboration between us,” Marianne said. “I thought it might be a way to showcase her talent,” said Marianne. Duvall’s initial illustrations, sized to fit the larger-format book that Marianne had envisioned, had to be resized to fit the published format.
Red Wing (His kennel name   –  Roussillon is a town in France) is the main character in this book aimed at readers age eight through twelve. Marianne is the “Mea” in the book. Riley will always occupy a special place in Marianne’s heart. “Of all the setters we’ve had, and dogs we’ve had, he was very special.” Riley, who grew up in Charleston and the Gowensville area, “is truly a Carolina dog,” Blanchard noted. Carolina or not, it’s no accident that the book’s main character speaks French.
“I’m fluent in French,” Marianne said. She and Bob spent eighteen summers in France. Though she was born in the U.S. her parents moved to Canada when she was three. That did not contribute to her French-speaking ability, but an ardent study of French (and Latin) in high school did.
Marianne’s background with, and love of, animals is another positive influence. For years, this veteran horseback rider has been a volunteer with Therapeutic Riding of Tryon (TROT). “The connection with animals is very strong with me.”
Did the successful and dedicated process of bringing an idea to a published work make writing her next book any easier? “It educates you more in the process,” Blanchard said. “You have to keep plugging. It teaches discipline,” she added. One must set aside time for the actual writing.
“You have to have a lot of stick-to-itiveness, discipline and humor,” she advised.

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