Best-selling author Trisha Ashley explains how her deteriorating vision is no barrier to her thriving writing career
To celebrate Book Lover’s Day on 9 August, the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling novelist Trisha Ashley has spoken to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) about how her writing career is going from strength to strength despite her sight condition.
Trisha, whose latest book The Wedding Dress Repair Shop has just been published by Transworld, has myopic macular degeneration. Her central vision loss has rapidly deteriorated during the last decade and she had to stop driving.
Five years ago, she was registered as Severely Sight Impaired.
Her local hospital had already told her bluntly there was nothing they could do for her, and she was forced to contact Moorfields Eye Hospital in London for private care, since she was aware that her condition gave her a greater risk of retinal tears and Wet Macular Degeneration.
Thanks to using RNIB’s extensive accessible library for research, using the latest assistive technology, large monitors and giant print and with the help of her son, Robin, to do research and co-ordinate logistics, Trisha’s writing career is flourishing more than ever.
She said: “It’s all very scary when the central vision starts to go. But I’m unstoppable. I’m a writer so I’m always going to carry on getting the words on the page, whatever happens. I’ve been called a ‘disabled author’ but I say nothing disables me as an author, I’m an author with sight loss. And of course, in my inner world, the one I am writing about, I can see perfectly well!
“I’m lucky that my son is very good with IT so he helps me with tech support and research and I work on a giant curved monitor. The way I’ve worked has changed but you must evolve and find ways around things.”
Trisha also uses an OrCam, which fits on her glasses and will read print aloud and Read&Write software to help her engage with social media, so she doesn’t lose that much-valued direct contact with readers. She finds Synapptic software useful on her tablet and phones.
She also makes extensive use of RNIB’s Talking Books service, which provides books on USB sticks to read the books she loves and research topics for her novels.
Trisha’s publisher Transworld have also been very helpful, sending her proofs in giant print and being flexible about deadlines.
Trisha’s readers with sight loss communicate with her and draw encouragement from her work. She’s also involved in a busy programme of promotions and signing events including an annual fan meet up in London.
Trisha is very proud of the fact that her publisher, Transworld, part of Penguin Random House, is making all its audible books available for free to RNIB. Her latest book, The Wedding Dress Repair Shop, was released in hardback in July and is already available from RNIB’s Audio Library.
Trisha says: “As I lost my ability to read even the largest print in books or on my Amazon Kindle, it was an absolute godsend to me to discover the RNIB’s Talking Books library. I’ve always said that the ability to vanish into a good book is a survival skill and now I can still do that! My readers tell me that they retreat into my books for comfort during difficult times – just as I do with my own favourite authors and, thanks to RNIB’s Library, can continue to do.
James Bartlett, Senior Manager of Reading Services at RNIB, said: “RNIB Reading Services is delighted to provide an ever-increasing range of Talking Books via Amazon Alexa, EasyReader, digital download and, by post, on CD and USB. As Trish illustrates, we can all escape into a great book and have endless adventures, perfect for Book Lovers Day.”
Notes to editor
All media enquiries to RNIB’s PR team on [email protected] or 020 7391 2223. For urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.
About RNIB Talking Books
RNIB produced its first audio book – or ‘Talking Book’ – in 1935. Since then, the charity has provided Talking Books in various formats to blind and partially sighted people across the UK, recording them in its own studios in Camden, London. In 2020, RNIB launched a new online library offering people with sight loss instant access to thousands of free books in formats they can read – including audio. The library now has 40,000 Talking Books in its collection. It was linked to Amazon devices directly when Amazon Alexa RNIB Talking Book skill launched in August 2021.
To become an RNIB Online Library member, please visit RNIB’s website on www.rnib.org.uk or call RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999.
About The Wedding Dress Repair Shop:
The Wedding Dress Repair Shop tells the intriguing tale of Garland Fairford, a historical costumier in London who seems to have the perfect job and the perfect and handsome fiancée, Marco.
Whilst creating a replica of a dress worn by a Victorian actress, Garland, an orphan, meets a long-lost relative - Honey Fairford. She is delighted and intrigued to discover Honey is planning to open a wedding dress museum in Lancashire – but a very special one. The Museum of Bridal Misfortunes!
When Garland loses her fiancée and her job in the same week, she accepts Honey's offer to work at the museum. But building a new life for herself is put on hold when a ghost from her past, Thom, reappears.
As Garland repairs both the beautiful vintage wedding dresses for the museum, and her relationship with Thom, could this finally be the chance for her own happy-ever-after?
We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality, and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.
RNIB. See differently.