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.
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.
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.
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.
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