Occupation: Novelist, screenwriter, writing teacher
Hometown: Sudbury, Massachusetts
Robin Palmer Blanche has been around the proverbial block.
She made the leap from Boston University to the neon lights of Hollywood, where she spent 10 years as an agent, producer and network exec, then to New York City, where she consulted on and developed movies for MTV. Then it was New Orleans, where she filmed a movie and met her husband, the man for whom she’d ultimately land in Baton Rouge.
“In some ways it felt like another country,” Blanche says of moving down South for the first time, “but I feel like I’m finally, almost three years later, getting into a groove. My priorities and my life are so different now.”
Blanche always felt, as many writers do, that her love of writing simply wasn’t practical enough to pursue. She hoped working close enough to writers in television would scratch the itch, but as she felt herself beginning to burn out in a second-choice career, the risk seemed worth it.
With nothing but her savings, some industry know-how and a wry grasp on human experience, Blanche has published seven young adult novels in the past eight years and begun transitioning into screenwriting. Now expecting her second child at age 47 while simultaneously shopping around a pilot—based on one of her books she describes as “Gilmore Girls meets Postcards from the Edge”—Blanche’s life seems full to bursting.
But between it all, she’s found time to launch a series of popular writing workshops at The Red Shoes and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, as well as an eight-week writing class at the Guru. She’s also working toward launching a monthly reading series inspired by poetry slams she frequented in New York and Los Angeles.
Blanche’s workshops, entitled “That’s A Great Story…Now Tell Me the Truth,” push writers deeper into storytelling. Her zig-zagging career path, Blanche says, gives a little extra something to her classes.
“I’ve been on both sides of the desk—the writer and the person giving the feedback,” Palmer says. “I know what works, and how to make it work.”
Blanche hopes to start a new eight-week session at the Guru once she’s settled in with her new baby this fall.
As for her Southern assimilation? Blanche is currently penning a comedy pilot she affectionately calls a “Southern Arrested Development” based on her husband’s massive, character-filled family.
“I didn’t feel like I had earned the right to write a Southern story yet,” Blanche says, “but I’m starting to figure out the quirks.”
For more info on Blanche’s books and her writing courses, visit her website at thatsagreatstory.com