After my promotional about Bellator, the sci-fi and fantasy charity anthology, I’m delighted to welcome a selection of authors and characters involved with the book.
Today I welcome Chantal Boudreau, who chats about her story and tells us about herself.
Bellator story: “A Fly on the Wall” – Carlisle of Feltrey is a stellar mercenary apprentice of the Redsun Mercenary Guild who has come to the end of her term and must face Minerva, the guildmistress, for her final assessment. But the meeting does not go quite as expected and the results are going to alter the course of Carlisle’s future.
Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Toronto but my parents moved to Nova Scotia before I turned two, so I don’t remember living there. I grew up in an Acadian fishing village called Wedgeport and moved to Halifax for university. I now live in Sambro, a rural area on the outskirts of the city.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write a variety of speculative fiction. “Palliative,” my first published short story was zombie horror (I’ve published many more since), Fervor, my first published novel (now a series) was dystopian. I also write a fair amount of fantasy, including my Masters and Renegades series, and I love to experiment with cross-genre tales. I’ve completed 21 novels to date, 10 of them published, and dozens of short stories
Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere and in everything. There’s a little something in all my stories rooted in life experience. If I find something interesting or intriguing, it will work itself into my writing.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? My favourite character would be Dee Aaronsod, introduced in Casualties of War, Book #2 of Masters and Renegades (I expand on her character in later yet-to-be-published books in the series.) I relate to her on some levels and admire her on others. She started off based on a friend of mine but gradually grew to incorporate a part of me and while she stays strong in the face of her struggles, she still has her flaws and her vulnerabilities.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I have several I dislike, mostly villains. I’d have to say the heroic character I like least is my elfin mage, Finch. She often acts on her insecurities, is more interested in status than I like and does something cowardly in Casualties of War that almost spelled the end of the people she was supposed to be helping. However, she followed that act by doing something quite brave, in a way redeeming herself, and fortunately for her, my other characters are more forgiving than I would be. Dee, however, is the least forgiving and that carries over into later books.
Are your characters based on real people? Many of them are, and those who aren’t often display a few traits from different people I’ve known.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Guilty as charged, although those books have yet to be published. It’s rather cathartic, a way of dealing with personal demons without actually hurting anybody.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I love researching to add an extra element of realism to my speculative fiction, plus I get to learn new things along the way. I don’t have one favourite resource. The Internet is a wonderful tool that lends access to a myriad of resources.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Not one message, no. I have a few that are recurring, but I don’t think I should limit what a book has to say in anyway. I do like to offer the idea of substance over style, that strength of character in the face of hardship is important and that friends and family should be a priority. I also believe in challenging the status quo and doing what is right versus what is popular. I think you’ll find most of these concepts in the majority of my stories.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great characters are the most important to me as a reader, so I have to value them most as a writer. Trying to rank the other three is a little fuzzy, solid plot is definitely something I look for but I can overlook a few weaknesses for the sake of an entertaining story and a story isn’t likely to be all that entertaining without the flavour great world-building brings, but I’m okay if it’s a little sparse. I don’t demand technical perfection but if there are too many issues it distracts from the story. It’s sort of like making a soup. Characters are your main ingredients, plot is the soup base, world-building is your seasoning and the technical is cooking technique. Who wants a soup lacking in main ingredients, with a weak base, devoid of seasoning or burnt beyond being edible? They all have their place.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? So far, e-books and print (one novelette is only available as an e-book). I wanted to expand into audio, but there are logistic problems because I reside in Canada and not the US or UK. I’m hoping that will change in future.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do self-edit, but I also have others who lend a helping hand who have the educational credentials to serve as an editor, and the small press I work with has their own editorial staff. I think you always need a second set of eyes. There are some problem areas in our own work we writers are just blind to. I think some books suffer more as a result of this than others, depending on the strengths of the writer.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I do, and I think it’s unfair, especially when some self-published writers are going to the expense of paying for professional editing, formatting and covers. Granted, there aren’t the same “gatekeepers” there are in traditional, but they don’t guarantee quality. Also, there are plenty of great books with niche-appeal turned away by traditional publishers because they won’t draw in a big enough market. Without indie/self-publishing, these books would be lost.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, several of my favourite writers are self–published (or started out that way.) I try to champion them when I can because they don’t deserve the stigma associated with being self-published.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I don’t think authors should comment on reviews even if someone is being unfair because it opens up a whole can of negative worms. I’m not talking about reasonably written negative reviews, everyone should be free to express their opinion, positive or negative, but rather trollish ones where the reviewer hasn’t actually read the book or attacks the writer personally. I believe in the adage “Don’t feed the trolls” because all these folks are doing is trying to get a rise out of the author or the author’s supporters. Reviews can be important because it increases exposure and some readers do base their purchases on the reviews they read.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? No, but I’m a word of mouth buyer. I tend to buy based on recommendations from trusted friends who know me. Taste varies.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I have a policy that I only review books if I want to recommend them. While I think people should be able to leave a negative review of a book, there are complications when the reviewer is another author. For one, it can be considered bad form and can dissuade fans of the author receiving the bad review from considering your books. Secondly, if the author is in the same genre that you write in (and most authors read books in the genre they write in) it can be viewed as an attack from a competitor – not a good idea from my perspective. Also, it can incite trollish reviews for your own books as a “counterattack.”
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? There’s a level of personal investment, because of the added component of imagination on the part of the reader, in a book compared to a movie or video game. With a really good book, the characters become a part of you and never really leave you.
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? I have four favourite traditional authors: for modern fantasy, my favourite is Theodore Sturgeon, for horror/dark fantasy it’s Tanith Lee, for science fiction I prefer Robert J. Sawyer and for fantasy and crossed genre I love Anne McCaffrey.
Do you have any pets? A 9 year old beagle named, Sparky, a fluffy cat named Charleston and a flock of chickens.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? My Snowy Barrens Trilogy began as the plot for a comic book (that didn’t get past page 2,) became the foundation for a LRPG session (I have pictures…) and finally ended up three generations worth of novels within a framework format.
Bio: Chantal Boudreau is an accountant by day and an author/illustrator during evenings and weekends, who lives by the ocean in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. In addition to being a CMA-MBA, she has a BA with a major in English from Dalhousie University. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she writes and illustrates horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and has had several of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies, online journals and magazines. Fervor, her debut novel, a dystopian science fantasy tale, was released in March of 2011 by May December Publications, followed by its sequels, Elevation, Transcendence and Providence. Magic University, the first in her fantasy series, Masters & Renegades, made its appearance in September 2011 followed by Casualties of War in 2012 and Prisoners of Fate, in 2013. Find out more at: http://chantellyb.wordpress.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Chantal-Boudreau/e/B004O1FP2E/
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4446228.Chantal_Boudreau