Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Claude Bouchard Interview
9/21/2010 6:25:36 AM
Today's guest blogger, Claude Bouchard discusses his novels and the writing life!
LTS: If you’re a fan of edgy, intelligent crime thrillers, I’d like to introduce you to author extraordinaire, Claude Bouchard. A talented writer, an accomplished artist and musician, he is a man of many talents.
I became acquainted with this fellow Canadian author through Twitter. Claude’s tweets are always entertaining and engaging, but I sensed there was much more to this man than what could be revealed by his 140 character tweets!
I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Claude. I know you were born in Montreal, but what other personal dirt (dirty and otherwise) is there you’d like to share with us?
CB: Since I refuse to say anything that might incriminate me without the presence of my lawyer, I’ll stick to clean dirt. Although I’ve spent most of my life in Montreal, I did live in San Francisco for eighteen months as a child. This is what spurred my parents to send all four kids to English school when we returned to Quebec in 1966. I have a sister and brother who are older than me and a sister who is younger. We’re a very tight family and gather with our wonderful parents, spouses and various offspring at least half a dozen times a year. I love to cook and do so quite well, I still get by on about six hours of sleep and dislike mowing the lawn but somebody’s got to do it. Few people actually get to hear me play the guitar as I’m somewhat stage-shy musician-wise. I sing badly but on key. There you go, clean dirt.
LTS: I know you began your fiction writing career in 1995, resulting in your debut novel, ‘Vigilante’, but even before this, has writing stories always been a part of your life and was becoming a published author a life long dream?
CB: The only creative writing I can remember prior to ‘Vigilante’ is a poem I’d written in third or fourth grade about a duck hunter who ended up getting killed by hundreds of ducks. Unfortunately, I don’t have the poem any more and can’t remember it but I know it was amazing and quite brilliant. The dream of becoming a published author was born of ‘Vigilante’ in 1996 and subsequently blown out of the sky by evil literary agents who either rejected my queries or simply didn’t respond because they were cheap and want to keep the stamps on my SASEs.
LTS: I love your answers! So far, you have 4 novels in the Barry/McCall Series spawned from your debut novel, ‘Vigilante’. What is the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonists, Chris Barry and Dave McCall?
CB: Though not the inspiration behind the story, meaning the story is not based in any way on this, what jostled the idea of ‘Vigilante’ is the O.J. Simpson trial or rather it’s outcome. That’s what got my mind rolling about someone picking up where the justice system failed to ensure that violent offenders not get away with their crimes. In the story, Lieutenant Dave McCall is the cop leading the investigation to apprehend the Vigilante whereas Chris Barry is an executive in the field of information technology. The two men, both highly intelligent and of like minds become acquainted when Barry is invited to help track the origin of emails which are being sent by the killer. Both characters tend to share my thinking and witticism.
LTS: Those readers who are new to your series should start with ‘Vigilante’. Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the reader when they crack it open?
CB: I write sparingly and to the point. I’ve often referred to my novels as hard and raw. I don’t do gratuitous violence or go into intense graphic detail about the violent acts but I do say what has to be said. ‘Vigilante’ starts with a young boy secretly witnessing the rape of his teenage sister by their stepfather. Some have commented that this beginning was a little shocking but it is a necessary starting point for the birth of the Vigilante. I might add that all who may have made this comment also immensely enjoyed the book. Though my four novels each could be read as a stand-alone, I urge readers to read them in order or, at least, to read ‘Vigilante’ first so as to not ruin it’s unexpected ending.
LTS: What drew you to this particular genre?
CB: As writers, I believe that we are what we read. This is the genre that has always attracted me as a reader and therefore what I’m most comfortable at in writing.
LTS: You’re currently working on the fifth title to the Barry/McCall Series. Since 1995, how do you feel your writing has evolved?
CB: My writing is definitely cleaner and tighter than it was in 1995. I really noticed this when I pulled up my first three manuscripts last year and got to revising them for publication. What was there was fine and the stories stayed intact but the end product was superior following revision. Though I hadn’t written fiction in a number of years, I had written extensively for business purposes as well as read countless novels, all which helped further hone my writing in terms of grammar and style.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
CB: I initially attempted to find an agent for ‘Vigilante’ back in 1996 at a time when it was snail-mail but eventually left it by the wayside due to lack of time and some disgruntlement. I started querying anew in August last year but actually ended up meeting my agent on Twitter. The best advice I could give to authors seeking representation is to make sure that their manuscript is at its absolute best, to respect the agency submission guidelines and to keep the faith. If you stop believing, it will never happen.
LTS: Though you are represented by Cari Foulk of Tribe Literary Agency, why did you decide to proceed with self-publishing your titles than to wait for a book deal with a traditional publishing company?
CB: I actually self-published my titles before starting to search for an agent. With the self-publication possibilities available today, I was keen on actually seeing my books in print without any substantial financial investment required. I also felt that there was no harm in selling a few and drumming up some interest until something on the traditional side came along.
LTS: It’s certainly a great way to begin building a fan base. Now, I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
CB: I’m definitely the relaxed type who writes when I feel like it. When I have a project in the works, I generally feel like it regularly enough but there are days when I’m just not up to it so I don’t write. It’s no use to be making a half-hearted attempt. Might as well do it when the motivation is driving me.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
CB: Easy question; a pantser, without a doubt. I often have no clue where my writing is going. It’s almost as if I’m reading a novel except that I have to put the words down for the story to continue. I’ve had unexpected characters show up in my novels and unexpected incidents take place. I’ve even had some guilty party turn out to be not guilty along the way. It’s kind of scary at times.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
CB: No music, that’s for sure because it distracts me. Other than that, I have to be inspired. One thing that I like to do and try to do regularly is to stop writing in the middle of a scene. When I come back to pick up where I left off, I’m not stuck with finding a new starting line. I literally keep going from where I had stopped.
LTS: That is actually a great writing tip that I’m going to have to try, thank you! At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
CB: If I can’t write, I don’t. I’ll do something else; read, paint, play guitar, write something else, mess with my website, chat on Twitter, mow the lawn (ugghhh). While doing any of those things, the three tiny gears at the back of my head are working on the writing problem and always end up coming up with a solution. In one of my projects, I had ended up geographically locating some characters someplace where access to flights to another desired location simply wasn’t available. After mulling for a couple of days, I made my problem their problem and forced them to drive more than they had planned.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
CB: That’s tough because I have many favourite authors. To pick one who I could say influenced me in my writing style and choice of genre, I would have to say James Patterson with his fast-paced style and generally solid storylines. Other favourites are Lee Child, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, etc, etc.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
CB: As a writer, even if one believes that a work is good, one is never certain until a representative audience extends its agreement. Numerous reviews and direct comments to date lead me to believe that my works were successful in entertaining and captivating my readers. Several female readers now have a solid crush on Chris Barry and I dare not say within the scope of this interview what those readers would like to do with him.
LTS: Okay, I will just use my imagination for now. So, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
CB: Anyone who’s thinking of taking a ride on this road must be ready to deal with frustration, rejection, extreme bouts of waiting, criticism and the underlying fear of never making it. Otherwise said, you’ve got to be tough.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
CB: ‘World without End’ by Ken Follett, an easy addition to my to-read list since I consider his ‘Pillars of the Earth’ to be the best epic novel of today’s writers.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from crime thrillers into other genres? Can your fans expect the sequel, ‘6 Hours & 42 Minutes’ in the near future?
CB: Taking ‘foresee’ to be a synonym of ‘hope’, I foresee book deals for the series in the near future and the eventual apparition of Chris Barry and company on a big or bigger screen. As for other genres, if I come up with an idea which isn’t ‘crime-thriller’, I won’t hesitate to write it. In fact, I’ve done so with ‘ASYLUM’, the first draft of which is simmering on the back-burner for further revision and expansion. My fans can expect ‘6 Hours 42 Minutes’ as soon as it’s ready for distribution to the public. My agent will get to see it first.
LTS: Thank you so much for taking the time to share in your novels and all your writing experiences and wisdom, Claude! You really are so much more than your tweets!
For more information about Claude and his novels, check out:
Follow Claude on Twitter: .ceebee308
Where to buy the books:
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