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.
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.
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
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