Interview with Author Chantal Boudreau, Conclusion

Welcome back for the conclusion of our chat with Chantal Boudreau, author of The Curlicue Seahorse, a story in the steampunk anthology Clockwork Canada.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

 

Airship Ambassador: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

Chantal Boudreau: I get some of my best critque from my mom, who is not afraid to speak bluntly.  She often remarks on the improvement and growth she has seen in my work over the years – she wasn’t all that keen on my writing at first.  I have also managed pro-rate sales over the last couple of years which was a new accomplishment for me.  I think that attests to my growth.  I’m not scared of experimenting either which has allowed me to expand into different genres.  I don’t like to stay static in my endeavours.

 

AA: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?

CB: I’m less productive in winter, subject to the “blahs” of bad weather, so I don’t force things.  I pick a few smaller projects and set some reasonable goals.  When I have more creative energy, I push myself a little harder.  I want results, but I also want to keep it fun.

 

AA: It’s good to recognize those feelings and cycles and work with them to your won benefit instead of fighting uphill against them. How is Nova Scotia for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc

CB: I grew up in rural Nova Scotia and that has definitely influenced my stories.  “ Dead Drift,”my zombie story in Exile’s Dead North anthology is set in rural Nova Scotia, as is “Wrigglers” from Midnight Movie Creature Feature Volume II.  But despite being a great inspiration for fantastical tales, it would be nice to be located somewhere central.  I could get to more conventions, book releases, group readings, etc.  At least we have a provincial writers’ society and a thriving and welcoming writing community here.  I don’t feel alone, even if we are somewhat isolated.

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AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?

CB: I’m not just an author.  I’m an accountant, a mom, a gardener, an artist, a craftsperson, a reader, and a bit of an adventurer.  I ‘m always dabbling into something new.  I’d definitely find something else to do.

 

AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered begin a published writer?

CB: I work for the provincial government as an accountant and I love my job.  I really enjoy working with numbers and people.  My co-workers are all readers and are extremely supportive.  My manager is also a published author so he celebrates my writing successes with me.  Barb, my late muse, was a co-worker.  I’m not sure I would have gone anywhere with my writing without their encouragement.

 

AA: That is really that you had such a supportive network of people. That kind of support is priceless. Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?

CB: I like to draw but I don’t have the patience to perfect my work.  My mom does amazing pastel and watercolour work and my daughter does incredible digital artwork, so I leave most of the artwork to them.  In the spring/summer/fall, gardening and jugger are my preferred outside past-times.  I wish I could just hibernate through the winter because aside from work and hanging with my family, I don’t do much of anything.  I’m not much of a winter person, which can be a problem when you live in Canada.

 

AA: I can understand that – my preferred winter activities are reading, movies, and camping out in front of the fireplace. How do those interests influence your work?

CB: I’m not sure if they do.  They mainly help me relieve stress, so perhaps they improve my creative flow?

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AA: Less stress is good. There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?

CB: I liked to play RPGs when I was younger, before I had kids.  I can’t spare the time for them anymore.

 

AA: What other fandoms are you part of (as a fan or participant) ?

CB: Jugger is a sport based on the post-apocalyptic movie Blood of Heroes, so I guess you could call that fandom.  I love superhero movies and I read mostly horror and fantasy.  I’m especially fond of zombies – movies, books, TV, it’s all good.  I also enjoy science fiction, including books by Robert J. Sawyer and various movies.

 

AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

CB: The list is too long to include, I think.  I was an avid reader growing up and a big fan of Tanith Lee, Anne McCaffrey, Theodore Sturgeon and many others.  As I mentioned, my family, friends and co-workers all support and inspire me.  I’m very lucky that way.

 

AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?

CB: Finding friends in fandom.  It gave me confidence, joy and the opportunity to meet my husband.  The greatest challenge has been dealing with the loss of several loved ones over the past several years – both friends and family.  They all died too young, some from illness, some from tragedy.  You have to move on, but it takes time and the loss can be debilitating for awhile.

 

AA: I’m sorry for your losses. Let’s wrap up with three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite metal, salad dressing, and sound of nature?

CB: My favourite metal is white gold, my favourite dressing is blue cheese and my favourite nature sound is peeper frogs.

 

AA: Yes! Blue Cheese! With extra cheese! Any final thoughts to share with our readers?

CB: I think everyone should challenge themselves to try something new and a little scary, from time to time.  It’s a great means of self-discovery.

 

Thanks, Chantal, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts.  We look forward to hearing about your next projects!

 

Keep up to date with Chantal Boudreau’s latest news on her website.

You can support Chantal and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on May 4, 2016 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Author Chantal Boudreau, Part 2

Welcome back for part two of our chat with Chantal Boudreau, author of The Curlicue Seahorse, a story in the steampunk anthology Clockwork Canada.

Read part one here.

 

Airship Ambassador: When people read The Curlicue Seahorse, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?

Chantal Boudreau: I’d like them to be inspired to follow some of their loftier dreams.  Sometimes throwing caution to the wind can generate unexpected rewards.

 

AA: It would be quite a world if everyone aspired to their grand and noble dreams. What kind of research and balance went into creating The Curlicue Seahorse world?

CB: I did some extensive research on Captain Kidd and Oak Island.  When writing it, I had to restrain my inclination to lay out entire backgrounds for all characters involved.  While that might work in a novel, word count limitations make it impossible in a short story – not to mention that it draws focus away from the central plot.

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AA: I’ve always been fascinated by the story, and strangeness, of Oak Island. What elements did you specifically include so readers could feel The Curlicue Seahorse history?

CB: I like to explore ideas of social norms, etiquette and the impact of historical changes on the people involved.  By building this into Ro’s relationship with her family and crew and her interactions with others, I tried to give it a strong presence in the story.

 

AA: What kind of attention has The Curlicue Seahorse generated?

CB: Those who have read my other speculative fiction seem keen on reading it.  Since this is my first venture into steampunk, I hope it will hold its own kind of novelty.  Friends in Steampunk Nova Scotia and the Jules Verne Phantastical Society have expressed great interest.

 

AA: How long did it take to write, and rewrite, The Curlicue Seahorse? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?

CB: I’m not sure exactly how long it took me to write it.  After completing the research, I wrote it in bits and pieces over several days and gave it a couple  of good edits before submitting it.  I wasn’t sure how it would be received and balked a little when edit requests came back, dwelling over them for weeks before making changes I thought would satisfy the editor.  I’m glad I first submitted well before the submission deadlines so I had plenty of time to work on the rewrite.

 

AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experiences like in the different publications?

CB: To be honest with you, some publlications have seemed a little rushed and I think its reflected in the overall results. I prefer publishers who champion substance over style and quality over flare.  They put in the extra time to put out a product you can be proud of.  And as far as that whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing?  It’s a nice notion, but a high quality cover really does add extra appeal to a book.  Exile Edition covers tend to be eye-catching and attention-grabbing.

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AA: I have to admit that a good cover will grab my attention, and if the title sounds interesting, I’ll pick it up to read the summary. For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an editor, their feedback, and your writing?

CB:  I like editors who give you a thorough critique and have high expectations.  In most of those cases, the story ends up changed for the better by the time it sees print.  A new writer can be defensive when it comes to their work, but experience teaches you to appreciate suggestions from professional editors.  We tend to be blind to any flaws in our own work.  None of us are perfect.

 

AA: Certainly words for everyone to take to heart. How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?

CB: I did a guest appearance one year at Hal-Con, here in Halifax, and I’ve done a couple of book signings.  I have a website and a blog and I welcome any promotional opportunities.  But most of all, I try to get as much work out there as possible.  Word of mouth is supposed to be the most effective way of finding new readers.

 

AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that  been like, and the fan reaction?

CB: Unfortunately, my day job and family life limit my availability for these things.  I can travel locally, but other than online blog tours, I don’t really have the opportunity to get out there.  I have a son with special needs and other responsibilities that can’t be easily set aside, and while my husband is amazingly supportive, he has a small business to run and we have a daughter soon to be in high school with plans for post-secondary in the works.  Maybe when things settle down, I’ll be able to get out more, but for now, I’ll just have to do what I can at local events and on social media.  I have received positive reviews and even the odd fan e-mail, so I am reaching my audience.

 

AA: Your plate is definitely full! What do you do to keep a balance between writing  and the rest of your life?

CB: I don’t sleep much.  I wish that was a joke, but it’s true.  I have a full-time job.  I have a garden in the summer and my family keeps chickens.  We have a highly energetic dog who needs lots of attention and I participate in a game called “jugger” for cardio – you have to keep fit.  I cook on the weekends and spend time with my kids (we are a three minute drive from a provincial park and beach).  I have a long bus commute to work which is where I do most of my writing.  I do what I can when I can and hope everything works out in the end.

 

AA: OK, your plate is putting the rest of us to shame :)  Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

CB: Most talk with other creatives is done via the Internet, although I do get together for lunch with a playright friend who also writes fiction and we talk shop. I used to have a dear friend, Barb, who would read and critique all my work but she passed away from cancer three years ago.  I have a few other people who test read for me, but none as dedicated as she was.

 

We”ll break here in our chat with Chantal. Join us next time when she talks about

Keep up to date with Chantal Boudreau’s latest news on her website.

You can support Chantal and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on May 3, 2016 at 7:12 pm  Comments (1)  
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Interview with Author Chantal Boudreau

This week we are talking with Chantal Boudreau, author of The Curlicue Seahorse, a story in the steampunk anthology Clockwork Canada.

 

Airship Ambassador: Hi Chantal, thanks for joining us for this interview.

Chantal Boudreau: Thanks for inviting me.

 

AA: You’ve had had several stories published in anthologies and magazines including My Favorite Apocalypse, and Return to Deathlehem. Now, your story, The Curlicue Seahorse, is part of steampunk anthology Clockwork Canada – what is it about?

CB: My story is about an adventurer and airship captain, Captain Roberta Rogers, or Captain Ro as many call her, from Nova Scotia.  She receives a gift from her grandfather that sets her on the hunt for a local treasure.  With the help of her crew, a prototype device and a man of letters closely tied to her gift, she tries to accomplish a feat that several others before her had attempted and had, in some cases, died trying.

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AA: I found the story to be fun and engaging. Why choose steampunk as the aesthetic and feel?

CB: I think its suited to the historical events behind the story and the nature of the characters involved.  I also think it blends well with Nova Scotia’s maritime background and involvement in the shipbuilding industry.

 

AA: What was the motivation for creating The Curlicue Seahorse?

CB: The initial inspiration was spotting a clockwork seahorse in the window of a store selling locally handcrafted goods.  It did give me the seed for a story.  I normally write fantasy and horror, but I’ve read some excellent steampunk stories written by friends and associates and I thought it might be fun to try my hand at that genre too.  When Exile Editions put out the call for submissions for Clockwork Canada, I couldn’t resist giving it a go.

 

AA: Hahaha, that how it starts! one little story, and before you know, you’re writing a steampunk novel! What can you share with us about the main character, Captain Roberta Rogers?

CB: She is strong-willed and brave.  She loves both adventure and learning, enjoying not just the thrill of the hunt but the full experience.  While she cares for and respects her family, and she appreciates their desire to maintain a certain level of societal propriety, she doesn’t like the restrictions their expectations impose upon her.  She can be impatient at times, and can suffer from tunnel vision, needing to be reminded to slow down and consider things from other people’s perspectives.

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AA: Are there any objects or things which play a major role in telling the story?

CB: There’s the title object of the story, which is key to the tale, Captain Ro’s airship, the Evangeline, which is her primary means of transportation for her adventuring, and a prototype submersible she has with her for exploring underwater treasure sites, such as shipwrecks.  There’s also a journal containing a myriad of intriguing secrets.

 

AA: What are some of the interesting and important details within the world of The Curlicue Seahorse??

CB: Thanks to a turn of historical events, Nova Scotia managed to go from a major player in shipbuilding during the age of sail to one of the leaders in the manufacturing of steam-powered airships.  This was how Captain Ro’s family generated their wealth.  She takes advantage of this to fund her adventuring.

 

AA: Without giving spoilers, what interesting things will readers find along the way?

CB: I consider the explanation as to how Ro developed a yen for adventure and a curiosity with regards to historical artefacts one of the more interesting elements of her background.  The crew of the Evangeline is quite interesting as well, with varying histories, quirks and personalities.  And who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned treasure hunt.

 

AA: Treasure hunts are always fun, and I enjoyed seeing the variety of personalities written into the crew. How did elements of your own life make their way into this story?

CB: I grew up in Nova Scotia.  My parents used to take us on family vacations to various parts of the province where we would visit museums and learn about the local history.  It spawned some youthful fantasies about making history myself. I also did some sailing in Saint Pierre when I was a girl, where I became enamoured with sailing boats.  The boats  were two-person vessels, so I would go out on day trips with another girl named Chantal and we were in complete control together, catching the wind and navigating the waves.

 

AA: Short stories have to be short – what back story is there for The Curlicue Seahorse which didn’t make it into the final version?

CB: Some of the subtleties of the relationship between Ro and her father didn’t make it in because it didn’t really add anything to this particular story.  I’d like to be able to explore the other crew members further in a future tale.

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AA: Are there any plans for a sequel for the good Captain?

CB: I hope so.  The journal lends to so many possibilities for future adventures.  I’d love to revist the Evangeline on her next outing.

 

I’d love to read more about the tales of the Evangeline, too!

We”ll break here in our chat with Chantal. Join us next time when she talks about research, history, and the writing process.

Keep up to date with Chantal Boudreau’s latest news on her website.

You can support Chantal and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on May 2, 2016 at 9:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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