My latest interview is with author Chantal Boudreau who is an accountant by day and an author/illustrator during evenings and weekends. She 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. She is also a member of the Horror Writers Association, writing and illustrating predominantly horror, dark fantasy and fantasy. Chantal has had several of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies, in online journals and magazines and as stand-alone digital shorts. She has had three novels published to date and she is anticipating at least three more in 2012, although she has 14 unpublished full-length novel manuscripts which will hopefully find their way to readers someday.
Books & Writing: When did you discover you love for writing?
Chantal Boudreau: I started writing at a very young age, inspired by a TV show called “The Pencil Box” where they chose the best of stories submitted by children to translate into scripts and air as segments of the show. I never made it onto the show because they cancelled it by the time I was old enough that I could write anything that made sense. I worked my way up to attempting a novel in my early teens – it was awful! But it was a learning experience and taight me just how much I still had to learn.
Books & Writing: What attracts you in short stories, because you have written a lot of short stories.
Chantal Boudreau: I actually prefer writing novels, but it is very hard to break into the business writing novels, so I started working on shorts after some prompting from my husband. I also found I needed a break between novels to work on editing, submissions, promotion and planning for the next novel. When I’m compelled to write during those breaks, I work on a short story just to get it out of my system.
Books & Writing: What is the first short story you wrote?
Chantal Boudreau: The first short I wrote that was published was in French, and I was in Junior High School at the time. I don’t recall the name of it, but it placed second in the competition despite the fact that it had accidentally been judged in the adult category instead of the student category. My first published short was a zombie short story named "Palliative" in an anthology called "Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts - Oh My!" published by Notreebooks. It is set in a nursing home that specializes in palliative patients.
Books & Writing: I also see you write horror and fantasy stories and your first published book was Fervor which is a Fantasy book. Do you try and mix the two genres together or keep them separate?
Chantal Boudreau: Fervor is listed as contemporary fantasy, but many have described it as science fiction, because it really combines the two genres. I like to call it a dystopian science fantasy tale with elements of horror to it (My beta reader described chapter 17 as “Stephen King-like.”) I love mixing genres and do it all the time. I know lots of people believe it is important to be a purist when it comes to genre, for branding purposes, but some of the genres that are very popular now, like steampunk, for example, came originally from someone experimenting with mixing genres.
Books & Writing: Where did you get the inspiration from to write Fervor?
Chantal Boudreau: The inspiration for Fervor came from my efforts to secure an agent (I’m still agent-less, actually, but stopped looking for one long ago). A certain agent had a “themes I would like to see” list and he was looking, supposedly, for a novel where children separated from society had ceased to age until an adult arrived with an artifact that changed everything. I’m guessing Fervor was nothing like what he had anticipated with this suggested theme, because he wouldn’t even look at it (I received a fairly abrupt rejection in response to my query letter.)
Books & Writing: What is Fervor about?
Chantal Boudreau: Fervor looks at the complications involved in introducing a telepathic link within a population and the ethical issues surrounding human experimentation and genetic manipulation.
In the story, the main character, Sam, wakes up to discover that the 300 children on the island of Fervor have been abandoned by all of their adult minders and teachers, and that the majority of them are now connected by a telepathic link, known as the connection, and suffering from varying forms of sensory deprivation. To make matters worse, they are led by children who refer to themselves as Tellers to a huge gathering, where they are introduced to their “house-families,” a group of other children with varying talents. They are made aware of how their new talents work, and receive instructions from the Tellers in the “Directives,” a set of rules that they will now be forced to follow. They also eventually realize that they have stopped aging.
Sam, a Finder and a Little, finds himself victim of bullying and mental domination within his house family, but settles into an uncomfortable routine, nevertheless. All of this is thrown into turmoil when he and two house mates are contacted by a strange man, Elliot Masterson, who brings with him a magical device, the Languorite - a device that may prove to be their key to freedom as it influences their talents and causes them to age again. He also has many of the answers they are looking for.
Books & Writing: Why did you start your monthly digital short series called "Weird, Wicked and Wonderful"? And what is it about?
Chantal Boudreau: I started the digital short series in response to a request from one of my publishers, Trestle Press. It is a selection of speculative fiction, something that shows my range of genre work. So far there are two installments, “Weighing Fate,” a tale about karmic luck and its consequences, and “Technopathy,” a story of a popular form of technology gone wrong.
Books & Writing: You are also about to publish a horror tale called “The Lure”, can you tell us a bit about that?
Chantal Boudreau: Actually, this has been published now in May December Publications monster horror anthology “Midnight Movie Creature Feature”. One of MDPs reviewers, Zombiephile’s Ursula K. Raphael, described “The Lure” as “a perfect example of what a short story should be: went straight to the terror, like a double-tap with a pen instead of a gun. If you happen to be a fan of the show ‘River Monsters’, you will LOVE this story. It will scare you senseless with the imagery.”
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Chantal Boudreau: You can find links to my work and free teaser tales on my blog at: http://www.writersownwords.com/chantal_boudreau/ . My books and digital shorts are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and in some cases Smashwords. There are other samples available on Scribd.com, my account is chantal_boudreau, and Angie’s Diary.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on the internet?
Chantal Boudreau: In addition to the website mentioned above and my Word Blurb blog on wordpress, I have both a regular account and a fan page on facebook. I do have a Google+ account and you can follow me on Twitter - @chantellyb13. You can also find me on Goodreads.
Books & Writing: Which writer(s) inspires you?
Chantal Boudreau: I’m inspired greatly by classic mythology, genre stand-outs like Anne McCaffery, Theodore Sturgeon, Guy Gavriel Kay and Tanith Lee, and lesser known but fantastic writers like Ren Garcia and Arlene Radasky.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Chantal Boudreau: Writing is a very subjective thing and is an extremely difficult industry to break into, but if you really love it, never give up trying. There are thousands of people out there who will try to tell you exactly “how-to” write, but it is an art-form, and therefore there are no absolutes. Remember that. What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Try a little of everything until you figure out what works best for you and then weave your passion into it. Practice helps to make perfect, so write as often as you can.
Thanks Chantal for the interview!
Below is an excerpt from her latest novel, Elevation, the sequel to Fervor, released in December 2011.
“Picking a direction at random – one that his Finder instincts told him was the best choice – Sam let his mind start to drift out into the void towards the faint whispers, whispers he assumed were coming from the latents that he could barely make out. Sarah followed closely. It was only her constant presence that kept the fear threatening to clutch at his heart at bay.
Sam wondered, as he moved farther and farther away, what their little experiment must look like to Fiona and Nathan, if the pair had even noticed what they were doing. He knew his breathing had grown shallower, his efforts concentrated on making contact with any other mind that was available. He figured that he and Sarah probably looked a little pale and limp. That was how Fiona had described it when the Littles had done this in the past. Sam was still far from the whispers when someone else took him completely by surprise, the briefest tendrils of something stronger than he would expect from a latent touching his mind. It made him draw in his breath sharply and made goose-bumps rise on his skin. He sensed Sarah draw up short behind him and an equally startled response from this new presence as well.
“Who are you? Where are you?” he gasped. “We’re looking for help. We can’t find the people that we were sent to find. Do you know where the latents are? Do you know Elliot?”
Panic, an uncontrolled panic from someone not used to encountering others in the connection, and a name, one that this person had not intended to share, but she had no walls and had no idea how to restrict her automatic responses to questions. Grace.
The panic was quickly followed by an equally uncontrolled push, a frantic attempt to turn Sam and Sarah away. There was a heady sadness to the thoughts – a desperation.
“No, no. Go away. It’s not safe here. Not safe! They want me to find you. They’re going to know. Don’t say anything more. Don’t tell me who you are. Don’t tell me where you are. Don’t give anything away. It’s a trap – a trap – a…”
The tendrils of thought pulled away, almost as quickly and forcefully as it had pushed at him, something unnatural washing over that other person’s mind. Then the other mind started back towards them, sluggish and hesitant. Something was wrong.”