Design for Dying: An Interview with Renee Patrick

Film and fashion fans know Edith Head as the Academy Award-winning costume designer who dressed Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Hedy Lamarr, and other silver-screen starlets. In Bas Bleu’s June Book a Month 2018 selection, Design for Dying, Edith is still an up-and-comer at Paramount Pictures when she meets Lillian Frost, the narrator of this “effervescent whodunit.” Together, the two women join forces to solve a murder in 1930s Hollywood, in a historical mystery penned by the husband-and-wife team of Rosemarie and Vince Keenan under the pseudonym Renee Patrick. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re chatting with Rosemarie and Vince (referred to collectively as Renee) about the allure of Hollywood, the importance of Edith and Lillian’s friendship, and how they stay married while writing a novel together. Continue reading

BookExpo 2018: A Convention of Readers

Ever since Bas Bleu mailed our first catalog in 1994, readers have asked: “How do you find these wonderful books?” The truth is our editors are always on the lookout for books we think you’d like, perusing magazine and newspaper book reviews, exploring recommendations from friends and customers, browsing local libraries and used bookstores, even skimming authors’ and book lovers’ blogs, Facebook posts, and Twitter threads. One essential resource for us is the publishing industry itself, staffed by passionate bibliophiles who spend their days creating and promoting books. We’re in contact with our publisher sales reps throughout the year, but every spring we get the chance to meet in person at BookExpo. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: Making the Royal Wedding Mug

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that on May 19, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry will marry actress and humanitarian Meghan Markle. The wedding marks the first time in eighty years an American has married into the British royal family, a ceremony to be attended by 1,200 guests and likely watched by more than a billion people around the world. Because Bas Bleu is proudly American—but royally charmed—we decided to commemorate the occasion by offering the Royal Wedding Mug in our Spring 2018 edition. Customer response was immediate and enthusiastic, creating such a surprise bestseller among our Anglophile readers that we decided to take you behind the scenes of the oh-so-English method for making these wonderful royal souvenirs. Continue reading

Frankie: Ode to a Bas Bleu Dachshund

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You may have noticed a lot of books and products about pets in the pages of Bas Bleu. Not only do our editors love cats and dogs, but so many of our customers hold a special place in their hearts for furry friends. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, editor AG introduces readers to her beloved dachshund Frankie, Bas Bleu’s unofficial canine mascot (notice his striking “bleu” eyes) and the inspiration behind many of our dachshund-themed offerings. Continue reading

From the Bas Bleu Mailbag

April is National Letter Writing Month, and a wonderful reminder to us of the joys of writing and receiving “old-fashioned” snail mail. Last April, we wrote about the irreplaceable value of paper mail in a digital world and issued a letter-writing challenge to all of our readers. This year, we thought it would be fun to dig into the Bas Bleu mailbag and share with you some of the recent letters our editors have received. Because in the midst of writing catalog copy, sorting through piles of books, embarking upon reading marathons, and posting on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, we still get excited when the mail carrier delivers a letter or card from one of our readers. (And it’s not every day someone uses the phrase “sultry feminine charm” to describe our catalog!)  Continue reading

The Last Castle: Q&A with Denise Kiernan

Biltmore Estate (by JcPollock)

If you’ve visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and think you know everything there is to know about the magnificent house and those that built it…think again! Denise Kiernan’s The Last Castle, a Bas Bleu Book a Month 2018 selection, offers readers a deeper dive into the fascinating history of the the Vanderbilt family, the brilliant minds that conceived and created Biltmore, and the major events and figures in America’s past that shaped it. Recently, Denise took a break from her writing schedule to share her inspiration, the lessons she’s learned from her writing life, and Biltmore’s role in the preservation of America’s natural resources. Continue reading

The Last Place You Look: Q&A With Kristen Lepionka

Our February pick for our Mystery Book A Month 2018 is The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka. It’s a twisty mystery featuring Roxane Weary, a PI struggling with the death of her father, a cop killed in the line of duty. Determined to drown her sorrows in whiskey, Roxane begrudgingly takes a case for the sister of a man on death row, hoping to prove his innocence before he’s executed in a few weeks’ time. The investigation turns up more than Roxane bargained for, especially once she discovers a link to a cold case her father had worked on. This week, Kristen was kind enough to answer a few of Bas Bleu’s questions about her writing process, how much of herself she recognizes in the characters she creates, and even gives a demonstration of how to pick a lock! Continue reading

The Women in the Castle: Q&A with Jessica Shattuck

Our January selection for Bas Bleu’s Bluestocking Book a Month 2018 package isn’t for the faint of heart: Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle not only tackles the desperation of life in Europe immediately following World War II, it does so from the points of view of three non-Jewish German women. The titular characters are virtual strangers when they come together, linked only by a pre-war promise made by one of the women to their husbands, a vow to help the wives and children survive if the men were killed in an attempted coup. Recently, Jessica Shattuck took a break from her national book tour to answer our questions about the importance of studying “ordinary Germans,” building strong connections between disparate characters, and the role of WWII stories in 2018. (We’ve endeavored to avoid spoilers, but proceed with caution!) Continue reading

Marcel’s Letters: Q&A with Carolyn Porter

Carolyn Porter never set out to become a biographer…or a detective! A graphic designer for more than twenty years, she had long entertained the idea of designing her own font. But what she thought would be a small side gig blossomed into a fifteen-year labor of love—and the inspiration for one of our January Book a Month selections, Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate—when she stumbled upon a collection of letters written by a Frenchman imprisoned in a German labor camp during World War II. The adventure that unfolded is by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, resulting in what our reviewer hailed as a “one-of-a-kind memoir.” Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Carolyn chats with us about the emotional legacy of her transcontinental quest to learn Marcel’s story, what it takes to be a type designer, and the importance of handwritten letters in a digital age.  Continue reading