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Vale Blaise van Hecke

Blaise van Hecke, co-founder and publisher of Melbourne-based Busybird Publishing, died suddenly on Sunday, 13 March. She was 53 years old.

Small Press Network (SPN) general manager Tim Coronel writes:

‘Blaise started Busybird Publishing in 2009 with her husband Kevin Howlett. She and Kevin were together for 36 years.

‘Blaise helped hundreds of authors see their name in print and she also wrote a number of volumes of memoir based on her extraordinary early life and subsequent travels, as well as The Book Book—about the process of publishing—and a number of health and wellness titles. She and Kevin both had a background in art, photography and illustration, and many of Blaise’s photos featured on Busybird covers.

‘Busybird was a long-standing member of SPN, joining in the very early days of the organisation (when it was known as SPUNC). Blaise became a member of SPN’s board as secretary in 2020.

‘Blaise was also closely involved with the Society of Women Writers Victoria, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Banyule Council and the Nillumbik Arts advisory committee. She was a regular at writing events throughout regional Victoria and in other states—in the week before her death she was in Adelaide for Writers’ Week.

‘All at SPN are shocked and deeply saddened that our colleague and friend Blaise is gone so suddenly. She will be remembered for her energy and enthusiasm, and the unwavering support for the authors she worked with and championed. Blaise approached everything with an open mind and her welcoming smile.

SPN founder Zoe Dattner writes:

‘I met Blaise in the early days of SPN, back in 2009 or so, when I was general manager. She was one of our very first members. What I knew about her then is the same as what I rediscovered, when she and I started connecting again over the past couple of months: Blaise was motivated and energised by the simple and symbiotic act of collaborating with people to get their stories out there.

‘As she said to me in one of our chats recently, her singular passion and focus was how to make these stories “live in the world”. She spent countless hours with writers, coaching and supporting them to do just that, with a generosity that far exceeded the traditional boundaries of publishing.’

Author and SPN board chair Sophie Masson writes:

‘I knew Blaise through my work on the board of the Small Press Network and in the last three years she was elected as board secretary, a role she filled with characteristic warmth, efficiency and good humour. It was also a conversation with Blaise a couple of years ago about the Camino—which she had undertaken—that sparked off the idea for the story that was eventually to see form as my novella, A Hundred Words for Butterfly.

‘Blaise was a truly beautiful person in every way and will be greatly missed. I am deeply saddened and send all my most profound sympathies to her husband Kevin, her children, and all her family and friends.’


Category: Obituaries