Jane Blanchard: Why my husband couldn’t have Torquay sea view when writing best-selling novels

Iain Blair was a best-selling novelist, writing as Emma Blair

Iain Blair was a best-selling novelist, writing as Emma Blair - Credit: Archant

I FIRST MET JANE BLANCHARD WHILE WORKING IN ITV. I FIRST MET HER HUSBAND IAIN IN A PUB IN SOUTH DEVON WHERE SHE INTRODUCED HIM AS EMMA. IT IS A LONG STORY, SO SHOULD WE START?

Some of Iain's novels, penned under the name Emma Blair

Some of Iain's novels, penned under the name Emma Blair - Credit: Archant

Better to start at the beginning. I arrived in Torbay in 1975 after leaving London where I'd been at university and then subsequently worked in the music business for three amazing years.

I'd been accepted on the old Mirror Group Newspapers training scheme for journalists based in Plymouth, where at 25, I was described as their oldest trainee... nice! We were farmed out to local newspapers to learn our craft and mine was the old Torquay Times.

Fast forward to 2003, I moved back to Torquay thanks to a love affair with a house! By now I'd clocked up over 20 years in television at TSW and ITV Westcountry as a journalist, programme maker and eventually commissioning executive.

By chance I had met my future husband Iain in a pub nine years previously. His opening gambit was that he hated journalists. Mine was that I'd only vaguely heard of him - he was the best-selling novelist at the time, writing as Emma Blair.

Journalist and TV executive Jane Blanchard

Journalist and TV executive Jane Blanchard - Credit: Archant

I'd never read any of his books. Soon I was writing the back cover blurb on them!

However, our common link turned out to be Ian Stirling, then popular television and one of my 'bestest' chums.

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Iain and I got together very quickly but then patiently waited nine years with a lot of commuting between our two houses on either sides of Devon, for our collective of three sons by previous marriages to leave home. Yes, nine long years!

We began house hunting together, scoured a lot of South Devon before instantly falling in love with our house in Torquay.

Journalist and TV executive Jane Blanchard

Journalist and TV executive Jane Blanchard - Credit: Archant

We loved living here the moment we moved in. We used to love an evening walk down to the seafront, a drive round to The Anchor in Brixham for an early evening pint. We got married here at the Osborne Hotel.

Sadly, Iain died in 2011 after a long illness and in my initial grief, I decided to up sticks and move to Exeter or back to my beloved Hampshire where I was born and brought up.

Out of the blue, my son, who was by this time teaching in Vietnam, said he would like to bring his family back to the UK and could they stay with me? So the house sale was abandoned and here we all are still, nearly five years on.

YOU BOTH WROTE BOOKS?

The Emma Blair books

The Emma Blair books - Credit: Archant

I haven't written one in many years now but have edited a few recently which I enjoy. Iain wrote his last six books here, typed them in the only bedroom without a view. He liked to face a wall with no distractions.

His modus operandi was strictly adhered to - begin in September, writing from 9am until 12, editing in the afternoon, three pages per day, five pages per week. There would be a bet around Christmas time on the exact day he'd finish - usually mid February. He was always within day or two either side. Then he would spend the next month relaxing and reading, followed by any rewrites and then the sheer panic of coming up with another idea.

As for computers, I offered so many times to teach him but he said he'd never switch one on. Said he thought they wouldn't catch on!

One of the saddest things I have had to write was his obit but I sat down and did it through a veil of tears to make sure it was factually correct. He made all the national papers with his passing - something he would have been so proud of.

One of Iain's bookes, penned under the name of Emma Blair

One of Iain's bookes, penned under the name of Emma Blair - Credit: Archant

WHAT WAS HE LIKE?

Bombastic, fun, opinionated, hilarious, could be embarrassing, loyal, very loving, annoying, bigoted and empathetic. He was the world's worst singer, dancer and car driver. He was also musically dyslexic. It was all noise to him.

But life with him was never ever dull. At a call for a part in Raiders of the Lost Ark when he was a struggling actor he told Steven Spielberg to *%$£ off when he was told to come back again the next day.