Name – Chantal Boudreau
Age – 42
Where are you from – I was born in Toronto but lived most of my life in Nova Scotia
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc – I am a Certified Managerial Accountant with the provincial government (Health and Wellness) I have an MBA as well as a BA in English. I am married with two children (daughter – 12 – Gwyneth, son – 8 – Etienne, he has autism). I have two siblings who live in Calgary and my parents live in France.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest news is the appearance of my zombie tale “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications charity anthology “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death.” Postscripts to Darkness also announced my inclusion as a contributor in Volume 5 of their anthologies, which they are aiming to release this summer.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing since I could first read and I was always fascinated with the concept of storytelling, which is why I wanted to write stories myself.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still don’t, really. I consider myself a storyteller, and I think I have some great stories to tell, but I’m not any sort of talented wordsmith. I work at it, and maybe someday, after years of learning, I’ll have the “writer’s chops” to be a professional writer, but I still have a ways to go yet.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was a teenager at the time and the book is my “trunk novel” – something that never could and never will be published. I was playing RPGs and wanted to explore my character backgrounds further while creating a setting for my own game world.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My style varies with what I’m writing, according to my beta readers, but I am a firm plotter rather than a pantser. I need to have an idea where I’m going before I start writing.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The titles for my book usually come from something I consider a central theme or component. When I can, I have a secondary meaning to the name. For example, Magic University is both the location and the goal in the first novel of my Masters & Renegades series. The titles for my Snowy Barrens Trilogy were inspired by the music of Gordie Sampson (a Nova Scotian musician) so sometimes there are external influences as well.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In Magic University there is a strong message regarding the importance of self-discovery and recognizing one’s own worth in the face of our differences.
There are plenty of messages in all my novels – some of them carry a strong anti-bullying message, others have socio-political commentary on where I imagine things are headed if we don’t change our way. All of my books present the idea of valuing people for more than just what current social trends deem is worthwhile, i.e. substance over image. I also discuss the importance of community, thinking independently and striving to find real purpose in life, even if it means taking a few risks along the way.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
My books are fantasy-based but I’ve been told my characters are very realistic. They may look different or wield magic, but they are still flawed personalities with credible dreams and goals. I try to offer a grittier, down-to-earth version of fantasy with a focus on greater realism. When my characters do something dangerous, sometimes they die. Even main characters are at risk. I kill them off too.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not all of them, but a few things slip in there from time to time. I’ve based some of my villains and secondary characters on people I know and there are scenes I’ve recreated from my own work life or schooling with a bit of a different twist to them. It’s hard not to incorporate my own experiences into my stories – that’s what I draw from when being creative.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I grew up surrounded by giant volumes of fairy tales and Greek mythology and fantastic books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It definitely influenced my own creative processes. When I got older my mother introduced me to Tolkein and Anne McCaffery and my sister brought home Stephen King books. They all played into my genre preferences.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’d have to say Robert J. Sawyer. He has offered a lot of encouraging and wise words and helped me stay positive. Even though I don’t tend to write science fiction, I do read it and his books are an example of the kind of thorough characterizations and strong plotlines that I strive for.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Roth’s Divergent – I love dystopian fiction. I saw the movie with friends and decided I had to read the book. I’m also in the middle of Memoirs of a Geisha. I tend to have more than one book on the go at a time.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I read all of Ren Garcia’s books; his League of Elders space opera series is wild, whimsical and full of grand adventure. They are also full of heart. I also enjoy indie horror and fantasy writers like Bruce Blake. There are more great books out there than I can spare the time to read.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m working on the first draft of Dominion, the sixth book in my dystopian series, Fervor and edits for Victims of Circumstance the fourth book in my Masters & Renegades fantasy series.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Barb McQueen, a co-worker and dear friend was my biggest supporter until she passed away from pancreatic cancer just over a year ago. No one motivates me quite like she did.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Unfortunately, no. I have a far better earning potential as an accountant and I don’t have the writing skill-level needed to become a professional, as my lack of pro-rate level sales will attest. I’m still learning and working at it, though. I’ve gotten a few pro-rate “maybe”s that sadly never manifested into a “yes”, but I have time. Maybe I’ll get there with more experience and learning.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Unlike some writers, I don’t feel compelled to make changes once a book is complete, other than perhaps correcting small typos or formatting errors caught by readers but missed by editing. What you see is what the story is meant to be – no regrets.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It started with a Canadian television show, “The Pencil Box”. It took stories written by children and turned them into TV skits. I really wanted the opportunity to have one of my stories on the show, but it was cancelled when I was quite young.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The last novel I released was The Blood Flows True, the third book in my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. Here’s an excerpt:
“You can do it, Amaranth,” Grizzly said encouragingly, watching the auburn-haired girl as she scaled the cliff-face at the Test of the Mountain Goat. “You watched me. It wasn’t that difficult. I know that you’re not as strong as I am, but I’ve seen you climb a million times. This shouldn’t be that much of a challenge for you.”
“Climbing a cliff is not the same as climbing a tree,” she grunted. “There are more hand-holds and foot-holds on a tree, and the ground below is usually fairly soft. There are rocks down there, and not much else.”
“If you fall, Puma’s there to catch you. You’ll be fine. Now keep going. This is your last test. Don’t you want to be considered an adult, like me?” The brawny young man grinned at her teasingly.
“I couldn’t care less, to be honest with you,” Amaranth muttered. “But I’m already half-way up, and climbing the rest of the way up is easier than trying to lower myself back down. I can’t believe that I let you two talk me into this.”
“Oh, come on.” Puma called from the base of the cliff. “You wanted to try this as much as we did. Nobody said that it would be simple. Besides, we let you pick some of the less strenuous ones before this one. Grizzly and I were looking forward to a proper challenge.”
“If you want a proper challenge, why don’t you two compete for the Symbol of the Sun, after we finish this, and leave me out of it,” the girl complained.
“Maybe we will,” Grizzly chuckled, crossing his arms. That was when he heard the sound that caused shivers to run up and down his spine. He peered down at Puma, who was already glancing around with some concern. “Did you hear that?”
“I heard it – and I know what it is. I better go get Fawn, and Blood-Dripper. Amaranth – you better climb like your life depends on it, because it very well might,” the fair haired boy exclaimed.
He turned and started toward the central clearing. He was part way down the path when there was a loud crashing noise behind him. The wendigo emerged from the brush, ripping entire trees out by the roots as it passed, and tossing them aside like tinder. Puma veered around quickly to face the soul-devourer, but the cliff lay between him and the monster, with Amaranth perched precariously more than three quarters of the way up. She screamed, and while the wendigo’s attention had seemed to be fixed upon Puma at first, her expression of panic managed to change this. Her fear, stronger than that of either of Fawn’s apprentices, was like the delicious and inviting aroma of a well-cooked meal to the beast. It lurched forward. Amaranth froze in abject terror, flattening herself to the rock face, still shrieking at the top of her lungs.
Grizzly, however, was not about to stand around and watch his tribe-mate get plucked from the cliff like fruit from a tree. He threw himself onto his stomach and extended his hand to the girl, ignoring that this went against the rules of the test, and leaving himself just as vulnerable as her in the process.
“Amaranth! Give me your hand!” He yelled down.
She stared up at him with desperate eyes, and scrabbled to secure her hold with one hand while stretching as far up as she could manage with the other. He succeeded in gripping her by the wrist just before the soul-devourer reached her and pulled with all of his might. Amaranth released her hold on the rock and instead clutched at the muscular boy with her second hand as well, holding on for dear life as he wrenched her up onto the plateau above. Had he been half a second slower, the wendigo’s claws would have torn through her, mangling her horribly, if not killing her with the first blow. Instead, its claws ripped across the cliff side, dislodging a significant amount of dirt and rock in the process. It roared in frustration at having been thwarted.
Still ignoring Puma, and hungering for the frantic girl, the monster began to climb too, wedging its ghastly claws deep into the cliff face. Grizzly hastily shoved Amaranth behind him, preparing to fight it with the small bone knife he kept wedged in his belt. He knew such a weapon would be meaningless in the face of the wendigo, but he hoped to shield the girl long enough that she could somehow escape.
Puma watched in horror, as the monster ascended a few feet further. He wasn’t about to let it slaughter his friends without some sort of effort to stop it. He leapt forward, gathering up a fairly large rock that the wendigo had knocked free from the cliff, and threw it at the back of the beast’s head with everything that he had. The rock struck its intended target, and while it had minimal effect on the creature’s unnaturally tough skull, the gesture did capture the soul-devourer’s attention. It turned to look at Puma, who was now much closer than he had been when the monster had first entered the clearing, and the wendigo picked up his scent. This was one of the three scents that it had been tracking. This one took precedence over the fearful girl, in the beast’s warped mind. It retracted its claws from the rock face, and dropped back down to the ground. As it landed, the earth shook with such intensity that Puma almost fell over. Recovering his footing, he turned his back on the pus-coloured giant and ran.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just like any writer I have bad habits that are a challenge to avoid, like using “that” too often. I also find I hit a wall just after the halfway point in writing a novel and I have to put in extra effort to keep going.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Naming a favourite author is almost impossible. I’m not sure I really have one, but aside from the authors I’ve already mentioned, I strive to someday match the likes of Tanith Lee, Kurt Vonnegut and Theodore Sturgeon. I want my books to be something out of the ordinary.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No – it’s the digital age. I communicate with editors and publishers by e-mail, I communicate with readers via social media and aside from travelling to a couple of local conventions for book signings/guest appearances, I haven’t had to travel yet. That may change if I ever hit it big.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
A combination of people. I do the design itself, but fantastic artists like Shawn Conn, Laird Ogden and Dianne Gardner make it happen in a way I never could. I’ve done the cover artwork for three of my books, but it doesn’t compare to their talent.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your books?
Editing is the hardest part of the creative process for me and after that I would say just getting things started and then staying motivated. It was far easier when I had Barb with me to spur me on.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
I learned that I can see a full novel through to the end. The best way for me to tackle this kind of accomplishment is to set smaller goals, like a chapter at a time, and work towards that, rather than looking at the daunting task of something as large as a novel as a whole.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
The publishing industry is perplexing at best and not very forgiving. It’s also in flux at the moment. If you are just starting out, the rejections and criticism can be very discouraging. It really is a matter of writing for the love of writing, learning everything you can about writing, editing, publishing and marketing and if you really want to find some success as a published writer, you have to treat it like a proper business. If one thing doesn’t work after a few tries, find another approach.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Feedback is gold to a writer like me. If you want to help me stay inspired to write, drop me a line and let me know what you think about my writing. Constructive criticism is welcome.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Curious George. I was four.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I draw, swim, garden, read and I’m a bit of a movie buff.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like science fiction and horror series on TV, but I also enjoy crime dramas and alternative fare. I like movies of any genre, but I watch a lot of horrors and thrillers after the kids are in bed.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favourite foods are garlic fingers with donair sauce and sushi. Green is my favourite colour, closely followed by purple. And I love alternative rock, bands like Lincoln Park, 30 Seconds to Mars, Finger Eleven, Fuel and Our Lady Peace.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’m doing it – I’m an accountant as well as a writer and I enjoy my job. Who says you have to be just one thing?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website is Word Blurb at http://chantellyb.wordpress.com/
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4446228.Chantal_Boudreau