Text Box: An Interview with the Author

Ken & Diane Blaisdell

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From GoGilbert Magazine August 2012

Article by Susan Lanier-Graham      *      Photo by Carl Schultz

'I don't outline. Its like taking a road trip from Massachusetts to California. I know where I want to end up, but I don't always know the route I'll take to get there."

A Personal Tale

Local author Ken Blaisdell uses a close-to-home inspiration for his latest novel

Seated in a local bookstore, surrounded by thousands of volumes, seemed an appropriate place to meet with Gilbert resident Ken Blaisdell. He has just released his sixth novel and is hard at work on the next.

Blaisdell is a mechanical engineer who owns the Arizona-based Delta Technology. He spends his days build­ing custom manufacturing equipment for other companies—or "inventing things," as he says. However, he also has a passion for writing. To Blaisdell, there is not a lot of difference. "Writing novels is inventing things, too. But when I create the stories I have a lot more power over the world," he says, laughing.

 

other companies—or "invent­ing things," as he says. However, he also has a passion for writing. To Blaisdell, there is not a lot of difference. "Writing novels is inventing things, too. But when I create the stories I have a lot more power over the world," he says, laughing.

 

Blaisdell and his wife, Diane, left the cold behind 29 years ago and made Arizona their home, along with their two daughters. About eight years ago, they moved to Gilbert to be closer to the business. "We love Gilbert," says Blaisdell. "Never have we had friendlier neighbors than the ones we have in our community."

 

Blaisdell and his wife live in one of the lakes communities in Gilbert and enjoy it. "It really is quite beautiful to be on the lake; and all the neighbors know each other. We live on a cul-de-sac, so we set up tables in the street and have parties right there."

 

Blaisdell says the close group of neighbors inspired one of his novels, The Wives of Lagan's Point, in which neighborhood women kill off each other's husbands one by one. He assures his readers—and his Gilbert neighbors—that there are no murder­ous plans in their community. In fact, many of his neighbors are regular readers of his works.

 

Blaisdell's first novel is The Weaver Conspiracy. It took him about a year to write and when he finished the 250,000 word political intrigue manuscript, he discovered it was more than twice as long as the book industry would even look at from a first-time author. After many more months of edits and correspondence with numerous agents and editors, Blaisdell turned to an alternative publisher and released the novel through Outskirts Press, a print-on-demand publisher.

 

"If I had known the realities of the industry when I began, I proba­bly wouldn't have continued," he says with a laugh. By the time he realized how difficult it is to publish a book in today's industry, however, he had the bug. "When I write, everything else goes away."

 

While each of Blaisdell's novels are labors of love, his newest novel, Katie: A Novel of Autism, is much more personal. The murder mystery centers around a 17-year-old autistic girl, Katie, accused of killing her au pair. Blaisdell modeled Katie after his niece, Quin D'Elia, who is autistic. Many of the anecdotes in the novel are actual events in Quin's life and things that have happened to her as an autistic teen in today's world.

 

Quin, who has no verbal commu­nication skills, lives back east and Blaisdell had never spent any extended time with her. That changed a couple of years ago when Blaisdell and his wife attended Quin's Bat Mitzvah. "Before then, Quin had always seemed happy," says Blaisdell. "It was often hard for those around her, but it didn't seem to bother her."

 

While preparing for her Bat Mitzvah, Quin used facilitated commu­nication with her rabbi to convey her thoughts. In one moving exchange, the rabbi asked her, "What does freedom mean to you?"

 

She typed in reply, "To be free is a dream."

 

He asked, "Are you free?"

 

"I need speaking to be free," she answered.

 

It was then that Blaisdell realized the depth of Quin's autism and saw her hidden intellect. He had the main story idea for Katie in his head before the plane landed back in Phoenix.

 

Katie took seven months to write. Normally, he hands chapters off to several others to read and critique as he writes, but not this time. He contin­ued writing and kept it to himself. He said that part of the reason was because he had not decided on who the murderer was until the end. "I don't outline," he explains. "It's like taking a road trip from Massachusetts to California. I know where I want to end up, but I don't always know the route I'll take to get there."

 

He says that sometimes it's almost as much an adventure for him as it is for the reader.

 

Blaisdell and his wife created Lightkeeper Press after he completed Katie. After trying to publish through traditional routes, they decided they needed to do something to ensure the novel's publication. "We thought that exposing some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding autism was important and could be done in an interesting way," he explains. In creat­ing Lightkeeper Press, he is able to make Katie available in both paperback and e-book (electronic book) format.

 

Blaisdell became so committed to the study of autism while research­ing his book that he pledges to donate a third of the profits from the book sales, both e-book and paperback, to an autism charity.

 

He also plans to keep writing and is already at work on novel number seven. "I do this because I love it and I hope that comes through in my writing," he explains.

 

For more about Ken Blaisdell and his novels, visit www.kenblaisdell.com.

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