Paul: Claude, what Happy Memories of activities you loved to do as a child that led you to be a writer?
Claude: I’m a firm believer that reading and writing go hand in hand and reading has always been an important activity in our family. Of countless Happy Memories from childhood, one is arriving home from kindergarten one day to find a cardboard package which had come in the mail with my name on it. As it turned out, my parents had bought me a subscription to the Time/Life children’s book of the month club (or something like that) and this was the first of many books I’d receive over the next few years. I remember the surge of excitement I felt every month afterwards when the mailman showed up with my next book.
Paul: Was there a special writer that you looked up to?
Claude: When I was twelve or so, I started reading a bunch of Alistair MacLean novels which my brother had and just couldn’t get enough of the author’s tight, to-the-point writing style and solid stories. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the work of many other authors in various genres but MacLean was the first to really have an impact on me.
Paul: What are some of the Happiest Memories you have from being a writer?
Claude: When one loves writing, Happy Memories abound; finishing a first draft, holding a print copy in one’s hands, every compliment, good review or book sale. These are all moments of joy for a writer, signs of recognition of accomplishment. I’ve had tears in my eyes when writing some passages and goose-bumps as I typed the final words of a novel. I expect many more Happy Memories for years to come as I continue to write.
Paul: What would you say to a child or student that you noticed had a love of writing?
Claude: There are too many people out there who end up going through life working week after week at a job they don’t enjoy. If a child or student loves writing, I would tell them to write, keep on writing and never give up. What is important is to understand and accept is that regardless what we choose to do in life, nothing is ever easy and much effort is required if we want to succeed. My writing and related activities keep me busy 10-12 hours per day, often seven days per week. However, I enjoy what I’m doing so I don’t mind putting in the time.
DN: Tell us about Vigilante series.
CB: The series starts with Vigilante, which deals with a serial killer who is ridding Montreal of the worst of the worst violent criminals. Once the vigilante case is solved, the series centres on a specialized government group known as “Discreet Activities” which performs clandestine operations for the betterment of society.
DN: What genre is it?
CB: The series could be classed as mystery, crime thriller, whodunit, suspense and action & adventure. Since the novels all include aspects of cops and crime solving, I’ve slotted them in the Police Procedural category at Amazon.
DN: What kind of readers will it appeal to?
CB: Based on comments and reviews to date, it seems rather clear that my series appeals to intelligent readers who like a good, action packed, suspenseful page-turner.
DN: In a very crowded market your Vigilante series stands out and is very successful. What are your theories as to what makes a good thriller?
CB: A good thriller has to move. Descriptions of characters, places and events should to be present only enough to make them seem real in the reader’s mind. Overdoing it slows the pace and simply becomes filler for increased word count. Elements throughout the story should support the final outcome such that the reader can think back and validate the outcome. Consider “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis as an illustration to this point. One realizes nothing was at it seemed yet it all makes sense. This has much more appeal than briefly mentioning a minor character early in a story then making him the culprit and laying out the behind the scenes explanation at the end, none of which was presented to the reader along the way. Finally, a good thriller has an unexpected twist at the end.
DN: Can you tell us more about (your lead characters) Chris Barry and Dave McCall?
CB: Chris and Dave are both intelligent, logical men, each with their own particular strong sense of ethics and justice. Both are very personable and funny, sometimes in a smartass kind of way. I often wonder where they get that from.
DN: Authors often talk about intentionally or subconsciously putting a lot of their own personalities into their characters. Do you see more of yourself in Chris Barry or in Captain Dave McCall?
CB: In terms of personality likeness, I would say it’s about an even match which is probably why Chris, Dave and I get along so well together. I have yet to disagree with what either one of them does or says. The one thing about them which annoys me a little lately is that they seem to be in better shape than I am though they avoid kidding me about because, after all, their future is in my hands.
DN: You’ve written some novels outside the Vigilante series, haven’t you?
CB: To date, I’ve written one stand-alone novel entitled ASYLUM and I have a work in progress, The Last Party, which is also outside of my series. I also recently penned and released Something’s Cooking under the pseudonyms, Réal E. Hotte and Dasha Sugah, which is a parody/faux-erotica collection of ten short stories and corresponding recipes.
DN: How much marketing do you do for your books? What have you found most effective? Do you use social media?
CB: I do much less marketing for my books today than I did a year or two ago. One can only put up so many “Buy My Books” tweets and Facebook postings before they start becoming static and invisible. Though I’m quite active on Twitter (@ceebee308) with close to 320K followers, I tend to promote other authors instead and the kindness is returned. I’ve done very little paid advertising as there doesn’t seem to be a high return on investment insofar as book sales go. Where I have been successful is with several KDP Select promotions which went well enough to fire up the Amazon ad machine on my behalf resulting in highly satisfactory subsequent sales.
DN: How lonely is the life of a writer? The rest of us have colleagues that we can share the highs and lows of the work day with.
CB: I speak for myself but I tell you, not lonely at all. Over time, I’ve made many friends via social media, some writers, others not and these people are the equivalent of the work colleagues I had in my past corporate life. Beyond Twitter and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/claude.bouchard2), emails abound exchanging information and asking/answering questions. Live discussions happen thanks to Skype and I’ve even met some of these folks in person. In fact, my wife and I will be vacationing in Asia next spring with a fellow author and his spouse who live on the other side of the globe.
DN: In that case, we’ll stop worrying about our favourite authors! Tell us a bit about yourself.
CB: I love to cook, play guitar, paint, read and travel and I tremendously enjoy life in the company of my lovely and charming wife, Joanne. I’m very independent by nature but love helping others out. I’ve been told by many that I’m quite funny and quick-witted which is comforting because I first thought they were just laughing at me.
DN: Have you got a website where readers can keep up with your work?
CB: Indeed. I invite everyone to drop by at http://www.claudebouchardbooks.com and it’s more than just about my books. I have some of my artwork on display, I share my point of view on many subjects in my “Ramble On” blog posts and anyone looking for some quick laughs is urged to check out the “Simple Musings” page.
DN: Where can we buy your books?
CB: All of my books are available on Kindle worldwide and in print at Amazon in the US, UK and Europe. ASYLUM is also available in ebook format at B&N, Apple and Kobo and in print at a number of online retailers worldwide.
DN: What’s next?
CB: I’m currently working on Femme Fatale, the seventh instalment of the Vigilante series. I hoped to finish it before the end of the year but that won’t happen because I was doing this interview. Just kidding. :) I also have The Last Party simmering on the back burner and waiting for my attention.
Canadian Claude Bouchard is a man of varying creative talents that include writing, painting and music, but it is in the role of author that I contacted him to request an interview which he enthusiastically agreed to.
Claude has written seven novels to date - VIGILANTE, THE CONSULTANT, MIND GAMES, THE HOMELESS KILLER, 6 HOURS 42 MINUTES, ASYLUM and DISCREET ACTIVITIES. He has received innumerable five star reviews and positive comments about all of his novels and deservedly so. Just read his novels to see for yourself!
Claude is being kept busy with his writing as he is currently working on another two novels, one as the seventh of his Barry/McCall crime series and one stand-alone novel, so I was fortunate and thankful that he had time for the interview.
Here's Claude with his own words....
1. Who or what inspired you to write your first book and how has that subsequently influenced your writing?
The idea of my first novel, VIGILANTE, came to me as the O.J. Simpson trial was unfolding in 1995. As crime scene investigation and police blunders came to light and it became evident a killer might go free, an idea began developing of someone taking care of violent offenders who managed to wriggle out of the justice system's net. I started to type and my story rushed out in about eight weeks.
2. Who are your favourite writers, one present and one deceased, and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As a teen, I devoured my brother's collection of Alistair MacLean novels, loving his stories, often with the lone protagonist up against near-unbeatable odds. His writing was straight and to the point without a lot of unnecessary filler. In terms of current authors, Lee Child is one whose work I appreciate in terms of solid, no fluff writing and stories which are, for the most part, quite realistic and believable.
3. Can you suggest one book that you think everyone should read and why?
It's always difficult to narrow down to a single book as there are so many great ones out there but if I must, I would say PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett. It's a finely written, well developed example of historical literary fiction.
4. Is there one specific book that you would liked to have written and why?
There was a time when I would read books and think "I wish I could write like that." However, I've come to realise that I have my own voice and content myself with writing novels my way which, based on reviews, most of my readers enjoy.
5. In the books that you've written to date, who would you say is the most complex character, who do you regard as your favourite character and why?
Leslie Robb, a character who appeared in 6 HOURS 42 MINUTES, the fifth novel in my crime series, is the winning candidate in both categories. Though I originally thought this gorgeous redheaded lesbian accountant would have a minor supporting role, she suddenly stepped out, front and centre, and showed what she was made of. Clever and witty, this martial arts specialist went on to hold her own in DISCREET ACTIVITIES and is now the central character in my upcoming FEMME FATALE.
6. What made you choose writing novels as opposed to other creative styles of writing?
I wouldn't call it a choice specifically. It's more a question that the stories which came to mind were fiction born from my imagination and long enough to be novels. I have written a handful of short-short stories which are posted on my website and have never felt the urge to write poetry. The genre I enjoy writing is crime thrillers where I portray a different mode of justice which I don't wish for in real life.
7. Do you have any theme, plan, structure that you use to create and shape any of your books?
Once a basic idea for a story comes to mind, I sit down and start writing. I don't plan, map, chart, schedule, I just write. I've often compared writing to reading a book, the exception being I must create the story in order to read it as it appears on the screen.
8. What makes you decide on the title of each book?
Of the seven novels I've written to date as well as my two current works in progress, the first thing I typed for each was the title on the cover page of the manuscript. Before any writing takes place, simply based on the general idea of a story, a title comes to mind and from there the process moves forward.
9. What do you find is the most challenging part as a writer and how did/do you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for a writer is not the writing itself but rather, everything which is involved in getting one's work out to readers once it's complete. Marketing one's books is a non-stop, ever-changing process and there is no easy trick or how-to method. Though my sales have increased markedly over the last year, I honestly can't say I've overcome the challenge yet.
10. How do you find inspiration to write and how do you keep motivated when things get tough when you're writing?
I can't say I've ever had much trouble in being inspired to write. If I have a work in progress, finding out what will happen is what drives me to go on. Once I've finished writing something, unless I already have a project in mind, I come up with an idea for the next work. As for motivating myself when the writing gets tough, there are many activites relating to writing which also require attention. When I reach a point where some thinking time is required, I tend to those other activites while my thoughts simmer in the background.
11. What has been your toughest criticism and best compliment given to you as a writer and how have you put both of these to your advantage?
I tend to slot criticism into two categories, namely the constructive type and stupidity. Over time, comments and suggestions by others have allowed me to improve my writing, my book covers, etc, the end result being better final products for my readers. The stupidity comes in the form of occasional bad reviews aimed simply at being hurtful and destructive which is understandable as they are written by frustrated idiots with sorry lives. These are greatly offset by highly positive reviews from people who enjoyed my work and proved so by not only writing a review but also by moving on to my other novels for further entertainment.
12. What projects are you currently working on or looking forward to gettinginto in the future?
I'm currently working on FEMME FATALE, the seventh instalment in my crime thriller series as well as THE LAST PARTY which is a stand-alone.
13. Are there any new authors that have recently grabbed your interest and why?
Indeed there are and the list is getting longer. I've come to know and know of a growing number of indie authors in recent years, many of whom write in genres which I enjoy reading and their work is what now constitutes my TBR list. Authors of note whose quality works parallel many well known traditional writers include Luke Romyn, Robert Bidinotto, Helen Hanson, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Russell Blake and C.S. Lakin to name but a few. There is tremendous writing talent in the indie world.
14. Do you have any advice or tools that are must-haves for aspiring writers?
I'll give the same advice I've given in other interviews in a summarized format. Do not make your work available to the reading public until it is your very best. If assistance is required to make your work better, get that help. Insulting readers with a sub-standard product is the fastest way to end your writing career before it has even started.
15. You have given us an insight into your professional life as a writer. What can you tell us about you as a person?
In no particular order, I'm intelligent, impatient, organized, stubborn, logical, sarcastic, demanding, tenacious, witty and cynical. I'm also pretty dam good around the kitchen.
16. Is there any particular question that you have wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you respond to that question?
There were such questions in the past but I looked after those recently when I interviewed myself in a guest blog post. :-)
Today’s Saturday Six Pack features Claude Bouchard, author of several books including the popular Vigilante series. Claude lives in Montreal, a fantastic city where being bilingual certainly helps, as does a fondness for the color white about six months of the year. I think you’re going find Claude to be an interesting guy as well as a very entertaining writer.
So let’s crack a cold one as we welcome Claude to Saturday Six Pack.
1) Thanks again for joining us, Claude. Why don’t we start with you talking a bit about your writing, particularly your Vigilante series. What are some of the elements you think differentiate it from others in the crime thriller genre?
Hi, Bernie. I’d like to start by thanking you for inviting me here and, I must say, that is one massive walk-in cooler you have. I’m also impressed how you have all the beer organized by country. Amazing!
Well, I grew up on the St. Lawrence Seaway and spent many evenings watching the ships and identifying the countries they were from by their flags so I’ve got that going for me… As for all the beer, let’s not talk about that.
That said, on to my writing. My Vigilante series came to life in 1995 when an idea for a story popped into my head after watching a number of episodes of one of the first ever reality shows, “The O.J. Simpson Comedy Court’. This daily show, with its cast of zany, misfit characters, showcased a variety of legal blunders and led me to think about someone who might impose his own rules of justice when the system failed. From there was born Vigilante, my first novel. During the eight weeks I worked on the first draft, more ideas started zipping from one synapse to the next and by the time I was done with Vigilante, its sequel, The Consultant, was screaming to get out with Mind Games just behind it.
Though I did do a bit of querying back then,I eventually put my writing activities aside, occupying the bulk of my time with other hobbies such as university studies and corporate ladder climbing. However, I found myself with time on my hands in the spring of 2009 and outcame my first three manuscripts. When I read them, I was surprised to note they were pretty damned good and following a few rounds of “Let’s Edit and Revise”,I suddenly had three novels out with the fourth of the series, The Homeless Killer, on the way. I’ve since added 6 Hours 42 Minutes and Discreet Activities to the collection. I’ve also written and published ASYLUM,a stand-alone which people loved or hated with a handful in between.
To answer your question, I once read somewhere that there is a finite number of possible basic plots, 36 I believe,(though Doug Adams might insist it’s 42). That said, it’s probable there exist other crime thrillers out there similar to mine. However, what differentiates any writer’s work from that of others is writing style and voice. My writing has been described as stark, pared down and raw. I don’t include fluffy fillers for the sake of volume. Who cares if the curtains in the den are velour or burgundy? My characters are real and so are the situations which arise in my novels. I do whatever research is required to ensure that what I write is accurate and possible.
2) Can you talk about where you’d like to take the Vigilante series in the future as well as share abit of information about what you’re working on at the moment and when we might expect to see it launched?
As long as I can keep on coming up with ideas and plausible plots and scenarios, the Vigilante series will surge ahead. I’m currently working on Femme Fatale, the seventh installment of the series which should be out late this year or early 2013. When I wrote 6 Hours 42 Minutes, I needed a character for a small role and I introduced Leslie Robb. What I was unaware of was, Leslie doesn’t do small roles. She’s a gorgeous, brilliant, cocky and confident lesbian and if one is going to involve her in something, she gets involved. The next thing I knew, not only had she taken her share of space in the book, she’d also snagged herself a prominent role in the subsequent Discreet Activities, but here’s the kicker. Guess who the central character is in Femme Fatale… Yep, Leslie Robb.
3) As an indie author,I’m always interested in how other writers balance their writing time with the requisite marketing and promotion efforts. How does a normal week break down for you with respect to writing versus promotion? (Assuming, of course, that any week could actually be called normal.)
I’m fortunate enough to be able to dedicate all my time to my writing and marketing efforts without having to deal with another job as a sideline. What this ends up meaning is I work 80-90 hours per week for much less than I earned working 50 in the corporate world. On the plus side, this job rocks a lot more. A normal week for me means I’m doing many things at all times related to writing and promoting myself and my work. This includes actual book writing, blogging, website maintenance, promotion, cross-promotion, interviews, networking on Twitter and Facebook, responding to emails, etc. There are rarely set schedules and much multitasking is involved. In regards to book writing, I never set deadlines. A book is finished once it’s complete and is published once it has been edited, polished, revised, nipped, tucked and buffed into something I’m proud of.
4) I’m sure you get asked questions all the time about your work and how you approach the marathon that is writing a novel. But here’s one I get asked all the time and I’m not sure I have a good answer. When you’re preparing to begin a new book, at what point do you know when you’re actually ready to start writing?
All my novels to date started with a general idea which, once I had it, I was ready to go. The first thing I typed for each of my seven novels as well as my two current WIPs was the title, which always showed up along with the general idea. From then on, it’s writing time and let’s see where it’s headed. There is no planning, mapping, charting or plotting involved. An occasional mulling moment is sometimes required when I have to help my characters figure out what to do but I generally let them run with the story, look after their business and content myself with the typing.
5) You mention on your Amazon author page that you love to cook and eat good food served with great wine. Hard to argue with either of those. Okay, best thing you’ve ever eaten and the best meal you’ve ever cooked? (You get bonus points if they’re the same.)
Two incredibly difficult questions to answer and I’m not even going to try for bonus points. I’m not sure this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten but it’s up there and the one which comes to mind. Montreal is home to a fine steak and seafood place called the Rib’n Reef and they make a tuna tartare as an appetizer, prepared at your table, which is absolutely spectacular. As for my cooking, I’ll marinade and grill anything you can throw at me in the summer and have cooked Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, etc dishes over the years. I’ve also thrown together dozens of varieties of pizzas on my own dough so, you decide.
6) Last question, and it’s the one I ask everyone since I’m very interested in how each author approaches their own development, if you could change one thing about yourself as a writer, what would it be?
I’m not sure I would want to change anything. As we write, mature and gain experience, we learn and grow and this is an exciting part of our craft. If I had known what I know now when I wrote Vigilante, where would the challenge have been along the way?
And now, as you ponder that question, I’ll take advantage of the opportunity to thank you once again for both a fine interview and the cold beer.
Claude, thanks again. Insightful and funny…hmmm, another one. This damn competition.
LH: Describe the main character of your book in three sentences or less (including both strengths and weaknesses):
CB: The main character is an intelligent, calculating, cold-blooded individual who has taken it upon himself to render justice against violent criminals when the system fails. His decision to assume the responsibility of executioner stems from having witnessed the rape of his sister as a child and though he understands his actions are legally wrong, he is convinced he is morally right. His high level of confidence and self-assuredness could turn out to be his greatest weaknesses.
LH: In what ways do you believe your readers will identify with the main character? What brings his or her story “home”?
CB: I had agent representation for a while and I always loved the opening lines of the proposal for Vigilante which I believe sum up the answers to these questions:
Doesn’t everyone fantasize a bit about vigilante justice?
Given the opportunity, would you be capable of killing a child abuser?
What about a man who beat his wife almost to the point of death?
Would you step in and protect a stranger from certain pain and death, or could you walk away?
Aren’t we all capable of imposing our own ideals and opinions of justice?
How far of a leap would it be to take advantage of an opportunity to rid the world forever of those that hurt and prey on the weak?
Not far at all, dear reader…
Not far at all.
LH: Please provide a blurb from your book that you feel provides a strong sample of your book’s overall tone.
CB: I do warn your readers that the following excerpt contains coarse language.
Zack awoke, feeling somewhat groggy and confused. He didn’t remember the alarm going off and wondered why the lights were on in the room. As he came more to his senses, he tried to sit up in the bed and realized that his arms were tied above his head.
“What the fuck,” he swore, trying, unsuccessfully, to move.
His legs were also tied. Now quite awake, he lifted his head and saw a man sitting on a chair, facing him at the foot of the bed, calmly reading a magazine.
“Good morning, Zack,” greeted the man, tossing the magazine aside.
It was 1:43 a.m.
“I gave you something to help you sleep a little,” the stranger continued. “I hope you don’t mind.”
“What the fuck is this?” Zack retorted. “Who the fuck are you? What the fuck do you want?”
“Now, now, Zack,” the man cooed as he smiled. “Are we always this cranky when we wake up? Guess you aren’t a morning person now, are you?”
He continued, not bothering to wait for an answer. “I used silk scarves to tie you up so you don’t have to worry. They won’t leave any nasty burns like rope would.”
He had been quite happy to see Zack’s big brass bed on his last visit. It made tying someone up so much easier.
“Listen, take what you want,” Zack offered, his fear mounting. “I got money, lots of it, hidden in this place. I even got a safe!”
“No, no, Zack,” his uninvited visitor replied, shaking his head. “I didn’t come here to rob you. I don’t want your money. I came here to discuss a proposition with you. Here it goes. You make your living selling crack and smack to little kids, right? They fuck up their lives, some even die, while you get rich. Now, here’s what I propose. I’ll shoot you up with a massive dose of the garbage you put out on the street. You will die, knowing how those poor little boys and girls feel when they die. Net result, our society will have one less piece of shit to worry about. What do you think of my idea, Zack?”
“You’re crazy, man, fucking crazy!” Zack shrieked. “This is fucking murder! You can’t do this!”
He wrestled on the bed, trying to break loose, but to no avail. His visitor was obviously extremely knowledgeable in the art of tying people up.
The man stood up from his chair as he quietly responded to his prisoner’s statement. “No, Zack. You see, you’re wrong. I can do this. Watch me. I will.”
Decisively, he walked to the door and picked up his canvas bag from the floor. Zack watched in horror and started to scream as the man removed a large syringe, candle and spoon from the bag and set them on a coffee table in the corner.
Shaking his head in silent disgust, the intruder calmly reached into the bag and pulled out another silk scarf. Moving over to the side of the bed, he skilfully squeezed Zack’s jaw open with one hand and stuffed the scarf into his prisoner’s gaping mouth.
“Quiet, Zack,” he gently suggested. “You’ll wake the neighbours.”
Returning to the coffee table, he continued to prepare Zack’s death, oblivious to the latter’s whimpering. Within minutes, he was back at the drug dealer’s side, armed with the full syringe. Zack stared at him, moaning with terror as tears streamed down his cheeks.
“Don’t cry, Zack,” the man softly encouraged. “I prepared you a special blend. Half heroin, half crack. You’ll get a double rush.”
Producing a rubber tourniquet from his jacket pocket, he quickly wrapped it around Zack’s arm and pulled it tight. After a moment of waiting, he inserted the needle into a prominent vein and depressed the plunger. Within seconds, Zack started convulsing. Twenty seconds later, he was dead.
“Too quick,” the man sighed, gazing down at the body and wishing he’d caused his victim more suffering.
As an afterthought, he pulled out his knife and slit Zack’s throat; his signature. He then picked up his belongings and, pausing only long enough to change his clothes, headed for home.
LH: What message or feeling would you like for your readers to take away from your book?
CB: First off, I do wish to stress that this is a work of fiction and vigilantism is not something I would hope for in reality. Where, as a writer, it is possible to control the moral code and ethics of a fictional vigilante, such would not be the case in real life. What I hope is transmitted to my readers is a sense of satisfaction when violent offenders do pay the ultimate price for their actions.
LH: What part of the book was the hardest for you to write? Why?
CB: Although I wrote Vigilante a number of years ago, the only difficulty I remember while writing it was in keeping up with the typing as the story rushed out.
LH: And finally, I understand that you have written several novels following Vigilante. Could you tell us a bit more about them?
CB: Indeed, in the two years following the writing of Vigilante, I wrote The Consultant and Mind Games, books 2 and 3 of the series. I subsequently put my writing activities aside for a while until I decided to publish the first three novels in 2009. Once that was done, I wrote and published The Homeless Killer (#4), 6 Hours 42 Minutes (#5) and Discreet Activities (#6). I also wrote and released ASYLUM which is a stand-alone. I’m currently working on Femme Fatale, the seventh installment of the Vigilante Series and I have another stand-alone, The Last Party, simmering on the WIP back-burner.
Allow me to finish by thanking you, Lori, for inviting me to do this interview. Loved your questions and enjoyed answering them.
Donna: Welcome Claude!
I met Claude through Twitter. He followed me, I followed back, then he asked me to check out his website. After visiting his site, I invited him to discuss self-publishing and he graciously agreed.
I initially published via Lulu and all my novels and compilations remain available there. However, Lulu’s pricing structure is not as favorable so I’m forced to set higher prices there than with Createspace so I don’t use them as a primary supplier. My books via Lulu are not distributed to any other retailers.
Donna: Has this huge number of Twitter followers had a significant impact on book sales? Those of us with smaller numbers sometimes assume our tweets are not impacting our bottom line where self-publishing is concerned.
Donna: Thanks so much for visiting with us today and sharing your experience and knowledge as a self-published writer. I wish you continued success with your series, and hope you’ll visit here again sometime!
WELCOME CLAUDE BOUCHARD!
Author of Vigilante
Winston: Today we welcome thriller author Claude Bouchard. Claude, thanks for stopping by The Object. Let’s talk first about Vigilante, Book One of the Barry/McCall Series. This was the first novel you wrote. What made you decide one day to sit down and write this story?
Claude: Hi, Winston. I’m pleased to be here and I thank you for the invitation. Ahh, yes, the conception of Vigilante. It all started during the summer of 1995 when the “Number 1” daily television show was the O.J. Simpson trial. As I watched the story unfold, the damning evidence competing with law enforcement bungles in this circus court, the tale of a justice crusader started forming in my mind. Within days, all my free time was spent banging at the keyboard in an effort to get Vigilante out of my head and on record. Eight weeks later, I had the first draft of my first novel.
Winston: New York Times Bestselling Author John Locke said Vigilante “. . . hits you like a hook to the liver, and addresses the timeless issues of murder, revenge, and the human yearning for justice . . . a witty thriller, full of passion and suspense . . . virtually impossible to put down.” How does it feel to have that kind of endorsement, and how did John Locke come to read your book?
Claude: John and I met on Twitter a couple of years ago, back when either of us would do a happy dance whenever we saw that odd book sale. Unbeknownst to me, he purchased Vigilante and contacted me with glowing praise once he’d finished reading it. From there, we maintained contact and became friends, sharing information and advice. Along the way, John has asked my wife and I to beta-read a few of his manuscripts (and at the time, he was becoming “John Locke” so it was rather cool to receive books from the man in Word format). I even did some English to French translation for John’s first Emmett Love western, Follow the Stone. As to how does it feel to have that kind of endorsement? Effing awesome.
Winston: More and more would-be-unknown authors are making a living or even achieving fame through self-publishing. Do you think writers are better off going this route than seeking a traditional publishing contract?
Claude: It’s a matter of choice. I sincerely doubt Grisham, Deaver, Koontz and King would jump the traditional ship to go Indie even if I tried to convince them, though I’m guessing they may have rather lucrative contracts. However, Indie works for me and is working for a number of other authors I know. It’s a lot of work but I enjoy the total control, the ability to make decisions and changes at a moment’s notice, reaping the full rewards for my efforts and the satisfaction of knowing I did it, my way. In the end, some may consider success to mean getting a traditional publishing deal and seeing their book on a shelf somewhere a couple of years down the road. I look at my growing number of readers, their comments and reviews and what has become a steady paycheque every month… I also consider that success.
Winston: What advice would you give an unknown author? What is the most important aspect of marketing your own work?
Claude: Write because you love doing it, not because you’re hoping for stardom. Review, edit, correct, modify and polish your work and then do it again. Strive for perfection. Research as required to ensure accuracy. If grammar is not your forte, get help with your editing. There is nothing more disappointing for a reader than starting a book to find dismal formatting, poor sentence structure, improper use of punctuation and spelling mistakes. It distracts readers from what they are looking for; your story.
Once your book is ready, thick skin is absolutely required. You have to be able to handle rejection and criticism. Not everyone will like you or your work, and if you can’t deal with that, you’re not going to make it.
As far as marketing one’s work, a well presented, professional looking website is a must as is a presence on social media such a Facebook and Twitter. Your website is your home-base where people can learn more about you and social media sites are your lines of communication. I don’t recommend blatant, continuous “BUY MY BOOK” posts on such sites as they quickly become white noise and ignored. Rather, you should work at growing an audience and engaging with it. Be the person who writes books and chats with potential readers, not a promo-bot.
Winston: You’re also a musician, artist, and a culinary enthusiast. Tell us a little about your background in those areas. (Feel free to share a recipe!)
Claude: I was twelve or so when I bought my first guitar, a $15 classical job which required non-stop tuning. On my fourteenth birthday, my parents gave me s starter Yamaha steel string which I messed with on and off for years. I’ve been playing more regularly over the last eight years, mainly because I bought myself some decent guitars. It’s all in fun within the privacy of our home to ensure as few people as possible hear it.
The art started in 1994 with a couple of paint-by-numbers to keep me busy as I’ve never been one to remain idle. I did those then went to a local art store, got some oil paints, brushes and canvases and started doing my own thing. My wife is the assistant director of an art school and shortly after we met in 2004, she suggested I try my hand at water-colour which added to my creative artillery. I also recently acquired an iPad and work with Sketchbook Pro on that so I’m officially a full-fledged multi-media artiste.
As for the cooking thing, that’s probably my mother’s doing because my brother and two sisters also love to cook. A recipe, you say? Since it’s summertime, synonymous with barbecue season, I’ll tell you how I make chicken wings on the grill. Note that the rub I’m describing is marvelous for rotisserie chicken.
4 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp celery salt
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine all of the above. Mix well. You’ll have more than you need but it keeps and you’ll be happy you have it the next time you make a chicken or wings.
Take one dozen fresh chicken wings, remove the tips (discard) and separate at the joint, yielding 24 pieces. I buy mine at Costco and they are already tipless, separated and a lot cheaper.
Nuke them with a bit of water, a dozen pieces at a time, for five minutes on medium power. Sprinkle them liberally with rub on both sides. Fire up the BBQ at low heat and grill the wings 15-20 minutes, turning them every couple of minutes. Enjoy.
Winston: I am definitely trying that recipe. I’m sure with all that talent you must keep yourself pretty busy, so we won’t hold you any longer. Thanks for stopping by to chat with us today, Claude. We’ll be recommending Vigilante to our readers and keeping an eye on your future work.
Claude: That’s great, Winston. I thank you once again for having me on The Object. Now, I’d suggest you grab some of those wings because they’re disappearing fast.
Intro by Patricia Carrigan
Even though we've been tweeps for a long time and he's always fun to tweet with ... when I asked the amazing Claude Bouchard to do a guest post for me, I must admit... I was kind-of just tossing it out there. You know the only stupid question is the one you never ask, right? I really didn't expect the quick response he gave me saying yes! So when I gave him a gentle nudge by way of tweet last week to remind him ( I did not use the words he states below.. lol ... although that's what I meant :-) I was thrilled when he came through with the most wonderful post! Thank you so much Claude!! You are a sweetie! Was I supposed to let people know that?
My guest post
Several weeks ago, the charming Patricia Carrigan asked me if I’d
be interested in doing a guest post on her blog and I heartily agreed.
Therefore, when she dropped me a note the other day saying, “Dude, get your ass
into gear,”I said, “Sheesh,” to myself, of course, and got to work.
Though Patricia had made some suggestions of the type of post she
might want, she also made the mistake of mentioning that I was writing the
piece, which put ME in the driver’s seat. Hehehehe…
Now, what I really wanted was an interview but did Pat come up with even one
question? Nooooo… I had to do all the work. Mind you, I’d never suggested to her
I wanted an interview, mainly because I hadn’t thought of it until now, but
still. Regardless, I decided an interview was the way to go so what follows is
ME interviewing MYSELF in “A Half-Dozen Questions”.
A Half-Dozen Questions
ME: Hi, Claude, and allow me to start by thanking you for agreeing to
participate in the first-ever installment of “A Half-Dozen
MYSELF: Uh, yeah, right. Can we get on with this because I’m already
feeling like Sybil’s cousin.
ME: Sure thing, Claude. I’ll start with something book related but
then we’ll move on to questions to learn more about you.
MYSELF: Whatever. Let’s get this thing going cuz I’ve got some baby-back
ribs just waiting to get on the grill for dinner.
ME: Hope you didn’t forget about me *chuckle*. OK, how much of the
violence depicted in your crime thrillers is reflective of your life
MYSELF: Though my novels are not exact depictions of my life experiences,
I must admit that most scenes are based, at least in part, on actual things I’ve
done, excluding any beating, stabbing, shooting, slaying, killing, murdering or
other violent activities, all of which I made up.
ME: Good to know, considering all the time I spend with you. Next
question. Do you prefer briefs or boxers?
MYSELF: Hmmm… That’s a strange question, kind of like if one would ask if
I prefer warm weather or cheesecake, but I’ll give it a go. Having never
practiced law or been involved in the courts, my familiarity with briefs is
somewhat limited past knowing they are documents containing all the facts and points of law
pertinent to specific cases, filed by attorneys before arguing said cases in
court. Boxers, on the other hand, are guys who wear big gloves and baggy shorts
and punch each other out until one is down, a rather violent sport if you ask
me. That said, I guess I’m indifferent to one or the other.
ME: Well put, Claude. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Now, the
question to which thousands have been dying to learn the answer, who cuts your
MYSELF: I’m proud to say that my wife, Joanne, cuts my hair and then lets
me cut hers to get even. We also wear a lot of cool hats.
ME: And don’t forget the bandannas. If you were a tree, what kind of
tree would you be and why?
MYSELF: Why the hell would I be a tree and how the hell should I know why
I’d be that kind of tree? Next question, idiot.
ME: Takes one to know one. Moving along. What is your biggest pet
MYSELF: It’s tough to narrow it down to one so I’ll give you my top three.
First, when I’m out taking a walk and suddenly get attacked by a cluster of
giant tarantulas, I just hate that. Secondly, when I’m traveling and the plane
I’m in crashes, that can get me pretty riled up as well. Last but not least,
when someone gets into the “6 items or less” supermarket checkout line with more
than six items, I can get rather annoyed.
ME: Yes, that checkout line thing makes my blood boil. And a final
question for you. With your experience, formerly in the corporate world and now
as a thriller author with seven novels under his belt, do you have any advice
you’d like to share with the folks out there?
MYSELF: I do indeed. Friends, regardless of your lot in life, strive to be
the best you can at all times, treat others with the respect you wish others to
bestow upon you and lastly, treat yourself to some fine entertainment once in a
while by reading my thrillers. In closing, I’d like to thank ME for this
wonderful interview and a special THANK YOU goes out to the wonderful Patricia
Carrigan for letting ME and MYSELF use her platform to present it.
Welcome to Three Questions with Van Heerling. This is where you get to meet authors, actors, painters and anyone else that is bent toward the arts, but on a more personal level.
Today we welcome Claude Bouchard author of Vigilante, The Consultant, Discreet Activities and several others stories you probably should be reading. I have had the pleasure of conversing with Claude via Twitter and Facebook. Fasten your seat belts... this should be a good one.
VH: If you could change one thing about our world, what would it be and why?
CB: I would abolish egos. Without egos, common courtesy would become the norm, bullying would disappear, wars would cease to exist, the list is endless. If people didn’t have those pesky egos, there would be nothing urging them to put themselves before others. Nobody would even think of cutting ahead, be it on the road or in the supermarket checkout line because there would be no reason to do so. Backstabbing, lying, cheating, etc would all become obsolete as there would be nothing to gain from such actions.
If, for some reason, ego abolishment was impossible, my second choice would be to rule the world as the all powerful master. :)
VH: If you knew the exact date of your death down to the minute, what would you change about your life starting tomorrow?
CB: I would re-arrange my schedule to make sure all enjoyable events and activities such as trips and parties took place before my death and would push unpleasant ones like doctors’ appointments, hospital stays and the like until after my death.
VH: If a zombie virus took over the world, how many days do you think you could last before you were infected? And what would you do to postpone the inevitable?
CB: In consideration of this question, I’d like to go back to the first one, forget about that ego thing and opt for the all powerful master thing instead and do some major zombie virus butt-kicking.
Next, we should move on to the second question which explicitly foresees my knowing exactly when I would die. By applying simple math, I could determine the number of days asked here by counting how many days there would be between, a) my date of death and, b) the date the zombie virus took over the world. Without these specific dates, performing such a calculation becomes quasi-impossible though I suspect the likely answer to be somewhere quite close to 42.
As to what I would do to postpone the inevitable, I’m doubtful destiny, which was so clearly established in all of the above, can be changed but, just for fun, I’d consume rum cocktails for their medicinal benefits and, as always, wear my trusty battle helmet.
VH: Claude you are the first to intermingle the questions and with such grace. As for your abolishment of egos... it reminds me of a quote, "Desired fame is caused by a cancerous Ego. Boy, do I need Chemo.” This one is mine. Sheesh... there is that pesky ego again!
Thank you Claude.
Interview with Claude Bouchard @ceebee308
The Digital Ink Spot - April 23, 2012
The Digital Ink Spot interviewed, Claude Bouchard, author of Discreet Activities, the sixth book in the Barry/McCall crime series, and the stand alone novel, ASYLUM. Claude Bouchard was born in Montreal, Canada, where he still resides with his spouse, Joanne.
He completed his studies in human resources, accounting and management at McGill University and worked in various management capacities in the fields of HR and finance for a handful of firms.
Bouchard first stab at writing was in 1995, the result being his first novel, Vigilante . This was subsequently followed by The Consultant (1996) and Mind Games (1997), all of the same series.
Besides writing, editing and promoting his work, Bouchard also spends some artistic energy with five guitars, oil paints and watercolours. It should also be noted that following several years of practice, he now excels at being cat furniture for Krystalle and Midnight, or so they tell him.
The Digital Ink Spot: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Claude Bouchard: I’ve always had a knack for writing and did quite a bit of it in work related situations but my first attempt at fiction was when I penned Vigilante in 1995. The catalyst was the O.J. Simpson fiasco which got me thinking about violent criminals working their way out of paying their dues through loopholes in the system. From there, my story rushed out as I created someone who made sure these animals were punished for their crimes. I immediately followed up with The Consultant and Mind Games, the next two of now six installments in my series.
The Digital Ink Spot: What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?
Claude Bouchard: I always find this type of question very difficult to answer because, though I’ve never
counted, I can easily say I’ve read somewhere around two thousand books and that number keeps on growing. I’ve never been much attracted to the old classics though I’ve read some such as LOTR, an obvious masterpiece. Another I enjoyed was Jack London’s Sea Wolf which so well depicted man’s ability to fight for what’s right and do what is required to survive.
Books which I’ve quite enjoyed in recent years are Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and its sequel, World Without End, both classics in their own right. I’m also a big fan of authors like Lee Child and Michael Connelly though the current prices of many ebooks from traditional publishers has nudged me towards indies such as Luke Romyn, Russell Blake and several others.
All that said, I can’t say that any one book has specifically influenced me. More so, reading many books has influenced me in general.
The Digital Ink Spot: I see you use video book trailers. Do you believe they help in getting the word out and do you produce them yourself?
Claude Bouchard: Exposure is key. If people don’t know a product exists, how can one expect them to buy it? Video book trailers are just another tool available to catch potential readers’ attention, using visuals and sound in addition to words. They help people get a glimpse of what the story is about, something along the lines of the cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words. To answer your question, yes, they help in getting the word out as do reviews, interviews, blog posts, etc. Every little bit helps.
I did indeed produce my video book trailers myself and take credit only to the extent of writing text, selecting photos and music and being able to follow simple instructions at animoto.com. With a little practice, I think even my cats could put a video trailer together.
The Digital Ink Spot: You have a very loyal following. What is it about your books that attracts the readers?
Claude Bouchard: I’ll start by mentioning that my main promotion platform is Twitter where I now have over 250K followers. I obviously tweet about my books but also cross-promote with numerous other writers and chat and joke with anyone who wants to. This has helped immensely in developing networking avenues, friendships and attracting readers.
If we speak specifically of books, eye catching covers and intriguing titles are necessary elements in order to generate initial interest. Over time, I have revised some of my covers and made titles bigger, keeping in mind that on sites such as Amazon, a thumbnail is what a reader first sees when shopping for entertainment. If the cover is blah or the title is illegible, they’ll just skim over it. The product description must then grip the reader and with time, good reviews also help a great deal.
Through reviews and direct comments made to me via Twitter, Facebook my website and email, what my readers say they enjoy of my thrillers and keeps them coming back for more are my characters and story-lines, both which are described as realistic and believable. Also appreciated is my fast-paced writing style which I don’t tend to clutter up with lengthy descriptions of the landscape, furniture or thread-count in the draperies in any given scene.
The Digital Ink Spot: What can readers expect from you in the future? Hopefully that includes a spot on
The Ellen Show.
Claude Bouchard: I’d certainly be thrilled to be a guest on The Ellen Show though the heart attack I’d suffer when I received the invitation might be unpleasant. However, Ellen and her team have some say in the matter and the phone has yet to ring.
In things which I do have control over, I’m currently working on a stand-alone entitled The Last Party but I’m at the early stages so it won’t be available for several months. I’ve also started putting together some ideas for the seventh episode in the Barry/McCall series, tentatively entitled Femme Fatale, which will center on Leslie Robb, a character which I introduced two books ago in 6 Hours 42 Minutes.
Thanks again for having me on here. Highly appreciated.
Vigilante - saving the world - one murder at a time!
By Kathleen Patel - Author of "Hiren's Magical Adventure", "The Dolls" & more -April 22, 2012
Vigilante was my first step into the inspired world of Claude Bouchard. This spellbinding story kept me guessing until the very end.
A serial killer is busy with a variety of “projects”. You see, this serial killer is on a mission. He wants to rid Montreal of the vermin that keeps good people up at night. He exterminates a variety of criminals. They are the lowlifes that we love to hate; pimps, rapists, drug dealers- you get the idea.
Here is where conflict steps in. While most people feel that the Vigilante is doing good work, there is always that annoying legal issue. The police must find the killer. Moreover, to make it even more complicated, the killer is a likable guy!
Law enforcement teams up with cutting edge technology and discover more than they bargained for. The storyline is brilliant. The characters are complex and you will immediately form strong feelings about each of them. However, will you be able to figure out the identity of the vigilante?
I do not think so.
Interview with Claude Bouchard
K- Claude, you’ve got yourself a new fan. I really enjoyed the book. I just can’t believe that it was your first novel. It’s excellent and the ending was brilliant! You are quite knowledgeable in law enforcement, as well as technology. Is this part of your background?
C- Well, Kathleen, I’m always pleased to get a new fan, especially when it’s one as charming as you. Also, allow me to start by thanking you for the wonderful review as well as the invitation to do this interview.
To answer your question, no, I’ve never worked in law enforcement or information technology. I’ve always read a lot and my favourite genre is mystery/crime fiction so that, combined with imagination and common sense, is where my cop minding stems from. Though computers have interested me for the longest time, my background is in human resources and finance and I’ve yet to become an IT master by any means. I should point out that I wrote Vigilante in 1995, before emails and the Internet were the norm, so when I pulled out my manuscript in 2009, I was rather pleased with how what I’d written fourteen years earlier still made sense and reflected what is commonplace now.
K- You are quite welcome, Claude. It is my pleasure.
It sounds like you were pretty Internet savvy back in 1995. I was selling computer training and most of our clients were trying to figure out what this “Internet thing” did!
Was there any special inspiration for this story?
C- The verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial is what flicked a switch in my mind, in the sense of criminals literally getting away with murder or other heinous crimes. The gears started churning as I imagined someone out there who would undertake ensuring that violent criminals pay for their actions. Vigilante was the result.
K- I’ll be honest- I could understand the Vigilante and his motivation. He was just trying to make the world a better place.
You have a wonderful style of writing. Is this something that comes naturally to you- or do you have to work at it?
C- With practice comes improvement and I’ve written tons of stuff over the years, much of it work-related though it remains writing nonetheless. As mentioned earlier, I’ve also done a lot of reading and still do which also contributes to honing one’s writing skills in terms of vocabulary, sentence and paragraph structure and so on.
Like any other writer, what is initially produced is a first draft which is then revised, edited corrected, reviewed, corrected some more… You know the drill. However, what I write in that initial draft reflects my writing style. The editing phase is more of a polishing activity versus a rewriting one.
K- What is your writing experience like? I mean where do you sit? What time do you write? How often? For how long at each setting?
C- The best way to describe my writing experience or activity would be fluid, informal and unstructured. We have a three bedroom home with only one bedroom required so one room is an art studio and the other is a study which is where my PC is and where I spend most of my day.
Depending on inspiration and such, I do sometimes write in the morning but generally do so more in the afternoon, never evenings and rarely weekends. Speaking specifically of books (as I do maintain a blog, etc), I write daily at times when I’m on a roll and other times, not at all when I’m in a mulling phase.
Even when I’m actively working on a project, my writing is interspersed with research as well as Twitter and Facebook postings as I chat with people, promote my work and that of others. A day of writing can generate as little as a hundred words, as much as a few thousand and anywhere in between. I never set deadlines and a book is finished once it’s finished.
K- You sound like a true artist. You just can’t schedule a burst of inspiration : )
If this were made into a movie, who would you cast in the roles?
C- Ah, you bless me with an easy question as I was recently asked this in another interview. I will now cheat and copy/paste what I replied then.
The question was asked to me about Chris Barry several years ago and the almost immediate answer was Matthew McConaughey at the time. Since then, I’ve always had difficulty picturing someone else though Thomas Jane and Paul Walker are plausible candidates.
Denzel Washington would be great in McCall’s role though age becomes a factor so possibly Isaiah Washington or Terrence Howard instead. Christian Bale would also be a consideration.
K- Matthew McConaughey- definitely. I can see Terrence Howard as McCall.
If you would like, I have a fun ritual that involves me giving you a scene and then you re-write it in your own delightful style. Would you like to try it?
C- Give it to me.
K- Okay- here it is:
We followed Jill through the doorway in to the studio. Mirrors covered all surfaces of the studio. There were no windows and the cool air was thick with the familiar aroma of incense. “Oh my!” Tara stumbled a bit, disoriented. Ivan caught her arm. He was standing just inside the doorway.
All the mirrors gave the illusion of a creepy fun house. On the far end of the room was a shelf that covered the entire wall. The shelf displayed about a half dozen dolls. As I got a closer look, I felt an odd tightening in my chest. There was something strange about these dolls. They were about 2 feet tall, impeccably dressed, and frighteningly life-like. I gasped when I stepped closer to the red haired doll. As I looked in to her eyes, I felt as though I was looking at a miniature woman. It was eerie.
What is up with these dolls? Calm down, calm down….
Tara walked slowly, looking closely at each doll. She appeared to be in shock. She was particularly fascinated with one that had black hair and wore an African costume, complete with fancy headdress. She leaned in and reached towards the doll, to touch it. When her hand made contact with the dolls face, she snapped it back as though she had been burned. She spun around quickly and looked at me. I could see the fear in her eyes.
We need to get the hell out of here.
C- Cool! Here it goes.
Jill gave us the faintest of smiles then unlocked the door, pushed it open and led us into the studio beyond. Tara and I stopped short as we gazed in awe at the room we’d just entered. All surfaces were covered in mirrors, the walls, the ceiling, even the floor we stood on.
“Oh, my,” Tara exclaimed as she wavered, disoriented by the multitude of reflections thrown at her from every direction.
Ivan, who stood just inside the doorway, caught her arm to steady her.
The mirrors were reminiscent of creepy fun houses found in old amusement parks. I noted a shelf which spanned the width of the far wall on which half a dozen dolls were displayed. As I approached to examine them more closely, I felt an odd tightening sensation in my chest. Though I was unable to put my finger on it, something was strange about these dolls. About two feet tall and impeccably dressed, each was frighteningly lifelike. I stepped closer to examine a particular red haired doll and gasped. As I looked into her eyes, I felt her gaze piercing into mine as though she was actually a miniature woman… Eerie…
‘What is up with these dolls?’ I thought with a rush of anxiety. ‘Calm down, calm down…’
Tara had followed me and now moved slowly before the shelf, pausing to look closely at each doll. Her movements were trancelike and she appeared to be in shock. She stopped before a black haired doll clad in an African costume complete with an elaborate headdress, seemingly fascinated. Leaning in yet closer, she raised a hand and reached for the doll. As soon as her fingers brushed the doll’s cheek, she snapped her hand back as though she had been burned before spinning around to stare at me with fear in her eyes.
“We need to get the hell out of here,” she murmured through clenched teeth.
K- I am completely enchanted. You’re an incredible writer and I am honored that you have taken the time for this interview.
C- Kat, this whole interview was a blast! Thanks once again for asking me to do this.
K- It was my pleasure! I will be reading more of your books. I hope you’ll come back and chat again. Thank you so much.
Claude Bouchard – Cleaning the Streets of Montreal One Villain at a Time
By Helen Hanson - Author of "3 Lies" and "Dark Pool" - April 13, 2012
Since novelist Claude Bouchard introduced the crime-busting duo of Lieutenant Dave McCall and computer expert Chris Barry in Vigilante, crime has plummeted in the beautiful city of Montreal, Quebec by 42%.
But coincidence? I think not.
During the daylight hours, Claude stalks twitter as @Ceebee308 wielding his parlez-vous-ing charm, razor-blade wit, and a ready to all who encounter him in the stream. Through this steady march on the social media scene, he’s amassed a legion of followers over 250,000 strong, a number impressive to any marketing despot.
And while Claude masquerades as a friendly oil-painting, wife-gushing, cat-wearing novelist, inside beats the heart of a scary writer dude.
Through six books, McCall and Barry battle a litany of heinous villains conjured from the fertile imagination of Mr. Claude Bouchard. In his latest work, Discreet Activities, they face a terrorist group, known as the Army for Islam, bent on destruction.
Without further folderol, please welcome author and twitter-beast Claude (rhymes with strode, reload, and explode) Bouchard.
(waits for applause to die down)
Claude: Hi, Helen! Allow me start by thanking you for inviting me to do this interview. I’m very excited as it’s the first time I’m interviewed by someone while she pilots a single-prop plane and buzzes airliners as they land at an international airport. Watch that 747!
ME: I only scare 737s.
Now, on to books. As an author of seven novels, the process of completing a novel isn’t a mystery for you anymore. But writing each one is a unique experience. A chapter in your life, as it were. Which book was your favorite to write and why?
Claude: Ahh, wily you are, Helen, as others have been in the past in their attempts to have me single out my favourite child when I love them all equally. That’s the last thing I wish to do as it would create a family feud of sorts resulting in chaos and mayhem in our peaceful abode. Vigilante, The Consultant and Mind Games are the elders and therefore more seasoned so they have assumed the role of leading the clan into the literary world, a gesture which I much appreciate. The Homeless Killer, my three year old, has a particular talent I love, which is the ability of presenting dual, yet related, plot-lines simultaneously. 6 Hours 42 Minutes is a quick little bugger who’s always trying to get things wrapped up on a timely basis but is loaded with non-stop action. ASYLUM is different from the others, no doubt about that, which we’ll discuss a bit further on. Finally, we have Discreet Activities, the newest arrival in the family, who has definite multitasking talents and has shown the uncanny ability of further developing Leslie Robb, introduced in 6 Hours 42 Minutes, making her the favourite Barry/McCall character of many readers.
ME: Sorry. I wouldn’t want any of your books to feel unloved on my account. You attribute a love of books to the voracious readers in your life as a child. What was your favorite book as a kid? Who was your favorite author?
Claude: Such a question forces me to dig into memories of, uh, several years ago. It’s difficult to peg down one favourite book as a child but one thing I do distinctly remember is getting home from kindergarten one day to find the first of many books from the ‘Book of the Month’ my parents had secretly subscribed me to. After having enjoyed multiple literary classics such as The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, I flowed through The Bobbsey Twins series on my way to more serious reads such as Tom Swift and The Hardy Boys. This paved the way to my brother’s complete collection of Alistair MacLean novels which I fondly remember to this day. I guess I could say MacLean was my first of many favourite authors, after Dr. Seuss, of course.
ME: Dr. Seuss rocks!!
Your sixth novel chronologically is the standalone novel ASYLUM. In ASYLUM, the managing director for a hospital housing the criminally insane is forced to pare back his time at work and focus on his family. I’m almost afraid to ask: did you do anything special to research this topic?
Claude: I’ll begin by allaying your fears, Helen. No, I was never a ‘guest’ in any such institution, nor did I ever work in one. In addition, I’ve never had to deal with a situation which involved trying to balance professional versus family life. No particular asylum-related research was required to write the book as the basis of the story relates much more to Dr. Russell’s family dealings than to his professional responsibilities. Much more research was required for the vacation the family takes as, alas, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit all the places they visited. As mentioned earlier, ASYLUM is quite different from any of my crime novels and has received reviews ranging from “Brilliant” to “Stupid”. I found interesting to note how some of the “Stupid” reviews made mention of how the reader “didn’t get it” which in itself describes the problem
ME: Whew! I’m glad to hear you’ve always lived on this side of the big wall. It’s a tough climb.
Which of your protagonists would you most trust to take care of your precious felines Krystalle and Midnight? Which villain? Which of your villains would you trust the least?
Claude: I would have no problem entrusting Chris Barry, Dave McCall or Jonathan Addley with the care of Krystalle and Midnight. To my knowledge, none have pets of their own, but all three are bright individuals in whom I have the utmost confidence. Though there may have been a villain here or there along the way who might have properly cared for our lovely cats, those folks are, uh, no longer available.
ME: I see … Your novels are certainly the stuff of Hollywood or The Bridge Studios. Who do you envision playing McCall and Barry on the big screen?
Claude: The question was asked to me about Chris Barry several years ago and the almost immediate answer was Matthew McConaughey at the time. Since then, I’ve always had difficulty picturing someone else though Thomas Jane and Paul Walker are plausible candidates. Denzel Washington would be great in McCall’s role though age becomes a factor so possibly Isaiah Washington or Terrence Howard instead. Christian Bale would also be a consideration.
ME: You’re quite good at that game.
I’m aware that the O.J. Simpson case was the impetus for your first novel, Vigilante. Given Mr. Simpson’s actions since his acquittal, those who thought him innocent may have reconsidered. What was your reaction to the decision? Did you follow the case closely?
Claude: I did, in fact, follow the case very closely and saw much of the court proceedings. I believed Simpson was guilty and was therefore appalled by the not-guilty verdict. The case was indeed what spurred me to write Vigilante although the novel has nothing to do with Simpson nor are there any similarities to the murders in question. The catalyst was in the sense of violent criminals literally getting away with murder and not paying their debt to society. From this, my Vigilante was born.
ME: Hear! Hear!
For those unfamiliar with writing, making a living at it is uncommon even if traditionally published. You are one of the few, and for that I applaud both your success and tenacity. What do you think moved you over that invisible goal line?
Claude: I’m wondering if you know something that I don’t but, what the heck, I’ll play along. To start, I must highlight that past savings from the corporate gigs, accumulated equity and investments and a spouse with full-time employment are definite assets to a writer’s career.
Next, though this doesn’t seem obvious to some, one’s work needs to be good, meaning, a solid story accompanied by wacky stuff like proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, that kind of thing. I realize it sucks but a crappy product just doesn’t cut it.
A key word you mentioned is tenacity which is an absolute must for anyone who hopes for any kind of success. I published my first three novels just under three years ago and followed up with my fourth shortly after. From then until January 2011, I averaged a dozen sales per month overall. Frustrated, I remember telling my wife at the time, “If I could sell a book a day, I’d be happy.” Lo and behold, I sold 31 in February 2011, beating my target by three whole sales! Over the next year, I wrote and released two more installments of my crime series plus ASYLUM all while shamelessly pushing, pimping and promoting my work. As a result, sales slowly continued to progress though still nothing sufficient to ‘make a living’.
Things started picking up exponentially around November 2011, as I became more involved in cross-promoting but the real kicker was participation in the KDP Select programme (suggested to me by our mutual friend, Robert Bidinotto) which resulted in the quadrupling of my sales from February to March. I’m not one to divulge specific results so here is where I don’t tell you how many books I’ve now sold. All I will say is, if sales continue at the level they’re at now, I WILL be ‘making a living’ as a writer. That concept is awesome, barring the fact I’ll also be paying taxes once again.
ME: Hmmm. Makes me want to rethink KDP Select. You’re the “the next best-selling author” for a reason.
Many writers like you and I are former corporate goons. Can you tell us a good story from your HR days?
Claude: I could tell you several but the best one is about the time I became involved in an actual police investigation. I was HR Manager for a manufacturing firm and one day, an employee came to my office to inform me that one of our production supervisors and his wife (also in our employ) were selling vast quantities of stolen goods (clothing) back in the plant. As reflected in my thrillers, I don’t condone crime and I quickly got to investigating which included sorting through trash receptacles to retrieve ‘orders’ placed and interviewing a few key people (mainly other supervisors who understood they’d best keep quiet about my investigation).
Once I’d gathered my evidence, I contacted the local police (we were located in a small town near Montreal) and within the hour, I received a call from a Montreal major crimes detective asking if he and his partner could visit with me. Upon their arrival, I was informed that what I’d come across was their first solid lead in cracking a $600K heist from a major fashion retailer. I gave them what I had and what I’d learned (including the fact the couple had transformed the basement of their home into a clandestine clothing boutique) and was jokingly asked if I wanted to join the force as what I’d supplied them with would be sufficient to obtain required search and arrest warrants.
The following morning, the cops executed the search warrant and visited the ‘boutique’ before dropping in to see me. Following a brief update, I was asked to summon the culprits to my office where they were placed under arrest then taken in for questioning. Needless to say, both were also subsequently fired.
I was later informed both had pleaded guilty and spilled their guts which led to the apprehension of those actually responsible for the theft (trailer-truck hijackings). Just another day at the office…ME: How cool is that? So what are you scheming next for your readers? Will McCall and Barry take out more Montreal trash?
Claude: I’ve started working on The Last Party, another standalone, which will deal with earthquakes, tsunamis, destruction, greed, ego and death. No, it isn’t a romantic comedy as you might assume. I’m also letting the gears spin in the background in view of the next Barry/McCall thriller which readers of my last two will be pleased to know will showcase the sexy, brilliant and charming Leslie Robb.
Once again, thanks for a great interview and thrilling plane ride. Uh, where can I go to uh, change my pants?
ME: Hey! The FAA loves me. They even let me keep my license. I wish they’d let me investigate something because then I might have a cool caught-the-bad-guys story like yours. . .
Interview with author Claude Bouchard
By Dean Lappi - Author of "Black Numbers" - January 31, 2012
I am fortunate to have Mr. Claude Bouchard joining me today, a fantastic and prolific author who has written seven novels (his seventh called Discreet Activities was released on January 29th 2012). He has one of the largest Twitter accounts in Canada (@Ceebee308), which is where I met Claude about 5 months ago, and we have become good friends since then. He is one of those amazing people who is always optimistic and who always looks for ways to help promote others.
Claude was born in Montreal, Canada, where he still resides with his spouse, Joanne. He completed his studies in human resources, accounting and management at McGill University and worked in various management capacities in the fields of HR and finance for a handful of firms for what seemed like decades, because it was.
His first stab at writing was in 1995, the result being his first novel, Vigilante. This was subsequently followed by The Consultant (1996) and Mind Games (1997), all of the same series. Professional obligations and other creative interests led him away from writing for a number of years but he found himself busy at the keyboard in 2009 with The Homeless Killer followed by 6 Hours 42 Minutes in 2011, also part of the Barry/McCall Series born from Vigilante. In July 2011, he released ASYLUM, his first stand-alone novel and Discreet Activities, his sixth Barry/McCall crime thriller was published in January 2012.
Besides writing, editing and promoting his work, Claude also spends some artistic energy with his guitars, oil paints and watercolours. Other passions include cooking, reading, traveling and attempting to stay fit. It should also be noted that following several years of practice, he excels at being cat furniture for Krystalle and Midnight.
DL: What is your new book Discreet Activities about and what is the hook that would get someone to read it?
CB: The central story line deals with an amateur terrorist cell planning an attack and a team of specialists from the clandestine ‘Discreet Activities” group intent on foiling the plan. A number of unrelated sub-plots are scattered throughout the book to further demonstrate the anti-crime talents of these specialists. As in all the previous novels in the series, the concept of ‘an eye for an eye’ is prevalent whereas that of ‘turning the other cheek’ clearly isn’t. My ‘good guys’ aren’t super-heroes, in fact, some die and my ‘bad guys’ aren’t brilliant masterminds, as is the case in real life, The result is highly believable fiction.
DL: Do you think eBooks are as valid as print books, and why?
CB: As an avid eReader user, I most certainly think eBooks are just as valid as print books. The stories are the same, whether read on a screen or on paper so why would an electronic format be of a lesser value. In terms of convenience, be it for travel or subsequent storage, eBooks are superior to printed volumes. From a writer’s point of view, eBooks allow me to make my work available for a much more reasonable cost than print does, all while giving me a reasonable return on the product I’m selling. Long story short, my wife and I share four eReaders so, as you may guess, I’m all for them.
DL: Do you think print books will ever become extinct?
CB: That’s a difficult question to answer as it involves predicting the future, a talent which I have not yet quite perfected. I believe we’ll keep on seeing print books for quite a while though we may see bookstores turn into POD (print on demand) shops at some point in time where one orders a book and waits while it’s printed.
DL: If you could ask one of your favorite authors a question, what would you ask?
CB: I probably would have answered that question quite differently just a few years ago, at which time I didn’t know any other writers. Writers whose work I enjoyed were traditionally published, best-selling authors, celebrities, big-shots, superstars. I was awed by these people but in the end, they are simply that; people. I now chat with and have gotten to know a rather impressive number of other authors, some quite successful, and have come to learn they don’t have any special tricks or methods in their craft. They get ideas and they write. Some map things out and meticulously plan, others just let it flow out from wherever these things flow from. Where I might have asked any of my favourite authors about their writing habits in the past, I don’t need to ask anymore as I’ve discussed these subjects with a great many wonderful writers now.
DL: Do you have any writing rituals or writing schedule?
CB: I don’t have any special writing underpants nor do I sacrifice a sock puppet on an altar before commencing a work. Once I have an idea in my head, and it doesn’t have to be full-blown to the conclusion, I just sit down and write. I can and do write at any time, depending how the ideas are flowing and how much volume I have waiting to rush out. However, my unscheduled schedule tends to work out to my doing most of my writing weekday afternoons.
DL: Could you see yourself writing a full-length novel with a quill and ink bottle like they did 300 years ago? Would it affect how you write?
CB: Ughh… Let me rephrase that… Uh, no. My writing with a modern-day ballpoint is mostly limited to grocery lists, not usually penned in one writing session. I should also point out that I’m a southpaw so writing with a quill and ink would result in massive smears on the parchment. I won’t even get into the editing phase once the first draft would be done. As I said at the start, ughh.
Thank you Mr. Bouchard for taking time to meet with me and discuss your books, and the art of writing.
Interviews with Indies: Claude Bouchard — Fellow “Vigilante Author”
By Robert Bidinotto - Best-selling Author of "Hunter" - December 18, 2011
I feel a special sense of kinship with any author of crime fiction who explores the “vigilante” subgenre. Especially if the writer happens to be an “indie” or self-published author, like me.
Claude Bouchard is one of “us.” He was born in Montreal, Canada, where he still resides with his spouse, Joanne, as well as the rulers of the household, Krystalle and Midnight, their cats. He completed his studies in human resources, accounting, and management at McGill University and worked in various management capacities in the fields of HR and finance for a handful of firms “for too many years,” he reports.
Claude’s first stab at writing was in 1995 with his debut novel, Vigilante. He followed on with The Consultant (1996), Mind Games (1997), The Homeless Killer (2009), and 6 Hours 42 Minutes (2011)–all part of the Barry/McCall Series born from Vigilante. He recently completed ASYLUM (2011), which is not in the series, and he is currently working on Discreet Activities, the sixth Barry/McCall crime thriller.
When Claude isn’t writing or editing his work, he spends his time making noise with his guitars, painting in oil and watercolor, reading, traveling (budget permitting), and planning to work out. I’m delighted that he has agreed to be interviewed for “The Vigilante Author.”
The Vigilante Author: Congratulations on your books, Claude. I and readers of this blog are particularly intrigued by your first novel, Vigilante. Why don’t you tell us about it?
Claude Bouchard: Thanks, Robert, and let me start by telling you how much I appreciate your inviting me to do this. I’m touched, considering the greats you’ve interviewed in the past.
Though I’ve always been an avid reader, I had never really considered doing any creative writing before Vigilante. What initially spurred me at the time was the O.J. Simpson fiasco, which got me thinking about violent offenders who escape justice. With this notion in mind, a story started taking shape and, before I knew it, I was sitting at the computer every evening typing like a mad man. Two months later, the first draft of Vigilante was complete.
In a nutshell, it’s the tale of a 10-year-old boy who witnesses his sister’s rape by their abusive step-father and vows to get even when he’s older. Some years later, he keeps his promise and starts eliminating violent offenders who have literally gotten away with murder. While the police, headed by Lt. Dave McCall, are attempting to track this serial killer, the media are rooting for the “hero” who is cleaning up the streets.
When the Vigilante starts sending emails to the police and media, taking credit for the murders, Chris Barry, a brilliant computer exec, becomes involved at the request of the police to try and trace the source of the emails. The action and suspense just keep growing from there until the shocking ending in the last line of the book.
The Vigilante Author: It’s next up on my reading list, Claude. You’ve had the opportunity to read HUNTER, which of course is also a vigilante tale. Clearly, there is something in this type of story that appeals to both of us, especially since they are our first novels. What was so compelling about the vigilante concept for you?
Claude Bouchard: My father has always been a fair and honest man, but also one who never accepted being bullied or getting his feet stepped on. This way of thinking was successfully transmitted in our upbringing and, as a result, neither I nor my three siblings ever let ourselves be intimidated by those who lean towards aggression to get their way. I’m not a big guy and was never known to be a brawler, but on the few occasions someone tried to physically push me around, I stepped forward, not back.
For example, a jock in high school started pushing me around one day, just to rile me, and I warned him to lay off or I’d punch him in the face. He continued; I punched him in the face and he laid off. On another occasion, while waiting for the bus one evening years ago, a bigger dude was strolling down the street, and just as he walked past, he turned on me and demanded my wallet. It had been raining earlier, so I had a closed umbrella in my hand with which I immediately whacked him on the side of the head. Surprised, he stepped back and started to protest and I hit him again, several times. Seconds later he was high-tailing away from me. I could relate others but you get the picture.
What I’m trying to say is, I was brought up to fight when something or someone is wrong. That’s where the vigilante concept is fueled from for me. People who prey on others deserve to get taught a lesson. Doing it on paper allows me to make those lessons more “meaningful.”
The Vigilante Author: I can relate to that. Without giving away any plot spoilers, in what ways are our two treatments of the vigilante theme similar or different?
Claude Bouchard: Our vigilante themes are similar in that both our protagonists have become avengers as a result of having been personally affected in the past by the wrongdoings of others. Though each their own person, our vigilantes resemble each other in their ingrained sense of justice which, however wrong legally, is morally right. They are not mugging innocent people, raping women, and terrorizing neighborhoods. Quite the contrary: They are “removing” the muggers, rapists, and other violent offenders which the justice, penal, and correctional systems failed to adequately deal with. I happen to be rather proud and fully support both our vigilantes.
The Vigilante Author: All reasons why I can’t wait to read Vigilante, Claude.
You mention the two ongoing characters in your series, computer expert Chris Barry and police Lt. Dave McCall. I find that for many authors, their main focal characters represent symbolic projections of things that are personally important to them. Is that true of these two characters for you? And if so, would you mind sharing what they symbolize to you? Do they represent variations on some common theme, or do they represent completely different themes?
Claude Bouchard: Indeed, both Chris and Dave are strong proponents of justice and they reflect my beliefs. This is clear with Dave simply on the basis of his position as a hard-working, devoted cop.
In regards to Chris, a little elaboration, if I may. My background is in human resources, a field in which I held various management positions with a handful of firms over the years. During that time, I was involved in three separate criminal investigations, one of which had to do with a truck heist of $600,000 of merchandise and the subsequent reselling operation of the goods. Long story short: The case was cracked, arrests were made, and working with the detectives on this was a massive adrenalin rush.
When I wrote Vigilante, there was no doubt that Chris Barry would be a white-collar professional; but I felt going on the IT side of business opened the door to more possibilities in his assisting the cops nab the killer than if he’d been a HR executive.
The Vigilante Author: Is there any overarching theme, concept, or moral that connects all the tales in your series, or that motivates the two heroes?
Claude Bouchard: Simply put, the common theme throughout the series is: “If you’re doing something illegal, you just may end up getting hurt.” My heroes are motivated by their sense of justice and determined to make the aforementioned theme a reality.
The Vigilante Author: Claude, I wonder how you would characterize the genre of your fiction?
Claude Bouchard: I’ve always considered my novels to be crime thrillers. Following Vigilante, I wrote four other novels with Chris Barry and Captain Dave McCall as central characters, and I’m currently working on Discreet Activities, the sixth in the series. I’ve also written ASYLUM, which I’ve called more of a psych-thriller, though there are definite crime and suspense issues involved. I particularly enjoy ending a story with a twist whenever possible.
The Vigilante Author: Care to share a bit about your background?
Claude Bouchard: I was born and raised in Montreal, though we did live in San Francisco for eighteen months when I was 3-4 years old. My brother, two sisters, and I were brought up by our loving parents who taught us proper morals, respect, and work ethics. We were a tight-knit family then and we’re even tighter now.
Reading was a popular activity in our household, a regular form of entertainment, from magazines such as Readers Digest and National Geographic to novels of various genres. I fondly remember graduating from The Bobbsey Twins to The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift, followed by my brother’s complete series of Alistair MacLean novels. Mystery, crime, and espionage novels always attracted me, which is why I write crime thrillers today. Though I don’t remember his stories in detail, as it has been a while, I do remember enjoying MacLean’s novels, where the protagonist was generally a lone, quasi-indestructible man who managed to succeed against all odds.
The Vigilante Author: I loved Alistair MacLean for the same reason. In fact, he seems to have been the inspiration for a lot of contemporary thriller authors, including Lee Child. Any other decisive influences on your thriller writing?
Claude Bouchard: Over the years, writers such as Ludlum, Connelly, Clancy, Crais, and others have taught me, however indirectly, about format, structure, and flow, character and plot development, and so on. What I mean to say is the more we read, the more we learn for our subsequent writing, even including additional vocabulary.
As far as comparing my writing to others, at least in terms of genre, the authors I mentioned, as well as Lee Child and Jeffery Deaver, would be in the ballpark. I’ve had one person tell me he enjoyed my writing as much as that of his favorite author, Stephen Leather, which was rather flattering.
The Vigilante Author: Tell us a bit about your writing methods. Outliner, or “seat of the pants”?
Claude Bouchard: Definitely seat of my pants. I’ll start with a vague idea and begin writing. Strangely enough, I’ve always had my title from the get-go and that’s what I typed first. I might loosely plan upcoming sequences and jot a few notes, but the story usually takes me where it’s going.
The Vigilante Author: If I spied on you through your office door keyhole, what would I see?
Claude Bouchard: Anyone spying on me during a typical day would see me jumping from my WIP [work in progress] in [Microsoft] Word to one of several tabs open on the Internet, sending a promo tweet on Twitter or responding to some tweets received, checking website visitor stats, books sales numbers, researching, etc. At some point, one would no doubt observe Midnight, one of our cats, come join me and scream for attention.
The Vigilante Author: I should introduce Midnight to Luna, the cat I share with Dylan Hunter. She poses similar distractions for me. Besides your cat, what’s the biggest challenge for you in writing? What comes easiest to you, and what do you love about it?
Claude Bouchard: I’ve always striven to make my stories believable. My characters don’t take a bullet to the chest to then yank it out with their fingers and toss it back at the shooter. I want my novels to reflect things which could actually happen. That said, if I have an idea about something I’d want to make happen, it has to be doable and this at times requires a lot of research before finding the confirmation that it can, in fact, be done.
The easy part for me is the actual writing in terms of sentence structure, punctuation, and the like. The ultimate rewards and pride generators are sentences such as, “I LOVED your book!”
The Vigilante Author: What drives you to sit in your chair before the keyboard every day? Is it that external response, or is it something inside of you?
Claude Bouchard: My main motivation is simply the pleasure writing brings me. There is something unexplainable about when I start writing, get “in the zone,” and words, sentences, and paragraphs rush out. It may seem strange to some, but other writers will surely understand the excitement I’m referring to, which is akin to an adrenalin rush.
I write with the intention of providing believable, quality entertainment to my readers. Since research, writing, and subsequent promotion are all time-consuming tasks, another objective I hope to attain is a level of sales sufficient to allow me to keep on writing without any serious concern about paying the bills.
The Vigilante Author: Like me, you are a self-published author. Did you try traditional publishing first?
Claude Bouchard: When I wrote my first three novels in the mid-to-late ’90s, the publishing world was a different place. Submissions to agents or publishers were done via snail mail, and cost-effective self-publishing did not exist. Responses to queries were usually negative, when they were even received to begin with. Having put so much effort in getting my stories out and then having to beg for recognition was quite frustrating. It left a bad taste in my mouth and led me to back away from writing for several years.
The Vigilante Author: So, when and why did you make the switch to indie publishing?
Claude Bouchard: When I decided to self-publish in 2009, the first intent was simply to see my novels as actual printed books. Then a few people I didn’t know bought them and told me they enjoyed them. That got the bug going, and I started looking into possible marketing avenues.
I did end up finding an agent through my social media networking and was represented for eighteen months until she pulled out for personal reasons. While other of her clients hoping for a traditional deal were left hanging, I had the satisfaction of knowing my novels were already out there working for me.
The Vigilante Author: So how is it working? What have been the challenges and rewards for you?
Claude Bouchard: Self-pub opportunities are readily available today with ebooks and POD [print on demand] books, but the selling and marketing tasks are quite demanding. Until one can develop a solid readership which morphs into word-of-mouth advertising, selling the books is practically a cold-calling activity with one-on-one sales. The only thing to be done with such an obstacle is to persist. Thanks to social media, support, encouragement, and help can be found through other writers battling similar obstacles.
While the indie route is a lot of hard work, it’s also quite exhilarating to have complete control, whether it’s book cover choices, pricing decisions, or anywhere in between. I definitely do recommend self-publishing to others, as long as they’re willing to put in the required effort.
The Vigilante Author: So do I. Which compels me to ask: What qualities do you think a would-be author needs most?
Claude Bouchard: If one wants to be a writer, one must have thick skin. You have to be able to handle rejection and criticism. Not everyone will like you or your work, and if you can’t deal with that, you’re not going to make it. I’ve known people who burned out because their first and only novel turned out not to be the bestseller they believed it was.
An obvious required quality, but one which many people don’t seem to recognize, is you have to be able to write or get the services of a good editor. I’ve read too many books by indie authors in recent years, some of which actually had great storylines, which were ruined by lousy grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes and improper formatting.
The Vigilante Author: As you know, Claude, those are pet peeves of mine, too. Tell everyone where they can buy your books and how can they contact you.
Claude Bouchard: My books are available in print and ebook format at a variety of online retailers, all the links for which can be found on the “My Books” page on my website. Any readers who wish to contact me can do so via the “Contact Me” page on my site. I can also be reached on Twitter (@ceebee308) and on Facebook. They should visit my Amazon.com Author’s page, too.
The Vigilante Author: Great. Any final words to our readers?
Claude Bouchard: Robert, I want to thank you once again for granting me this opportunity as I truly enjoyed participating in this interview. I wish you continued success with Hunter and look forward to the sequel so, keep on writing!
The Vigilante Author: Thanks, Claude. You too!
The Vigilante Speaks - A Character Interview
By Stacy Eaton - Author of "My Blood Runs Blue" - December 8, 2011
Vigilante: Hi, Stacy, You can call me Vigilante and, since you’re in law enforcement, it doesn’t really make sense that I give you my real name, does it? I’m sure you understand my point of view. I’m a major character in Claude Bouchard’s first novel, so much so that he entitled after moi. You see, without me, he wouldn’t have really had a story to tell, after all.
Here’s the thing. When I was a kid, my mother hooked up with a violent drunk and he didn’t treat any of us very nicely. You can take only so much of that kind of thing and then you snap, which is what happened to me. One day I saw him attack my older sister and I snapped. I was only ten at the time so I couldn’t really do anything then but I vowed I’d make bad guys pay, my way, when I grew up. I’m grown up now and have started applying my vision of justice to nasty people who didn’t get what they really deserved from the system. The media is rooting for me while Lieutenant McCall and his team are looking for me but they’ll never track me down. It’s not that they aren’t good at what they do or that I’m better than they are. I’m simply smart and very careful when I’m out there and, in the end, what I’m doing is right so I believe destiny will do the right thing for me as well.
But who knows? I’m only human and maybe I am a little too confident for my own good. Maybe I will get caught at some point but if I do, I’ll still know the animals I dealt got the kind of justice they deserved. Anyhow, if you want to know the whole story, I’d suggest you read the book. It’s called Vigilante and it’s all in there.
Stacy: Okay, I understand why you don't want to tell me your real name, but you know I'm going to read the book and I'll figure it out! Then I'll be watching out for you! I know I am making your nervous being here in my presence and all, but before you run answer a few questions for us, and no you don't need a lawyer present. We all want to be different, so what is the one thing you wish your creator had done differently with you?
Vigilante: When describing my, uh, interactions with my victims, Bouchard portrayed me as a rather violent person. It would have been nice if he had highlighted some of my more positive traits.
Stacy: If you could have added something to the story, and your creator would have let you, what would that have been?
Vigilante: If it had been up to me, I would have added a few extra chapters because some people still merited my personal attention, if you know what I mean.
Stacy: What do you love best about yourself? What do you like least?
Vigilante: I’m cool and calculating, meticulous in my planning and rather handsome. What bothers me is the worry I sometimes cause my wife with my activities.
Stacy: What part of the book was the hardest for you and your creator to work through?
Vigilante: The hardest part for both of us was keeping my identity a secret and my having to lie at times to do so.
Stacy: Is there a sequel for this book? If so, what do you want to accomplish in the next book. If not, do you wish you could continue your story?
Vigilante: Absolutely. In fact, Bouchard went ahead with four more books in the series following Vigilante and currently has some of us hopping in a sixth he’s working on entitled Discreet Activities. He also released ASYLUM, a psych-thriller which has nothing to do with the series though I understand it’s excellent as well.
As far as what I want to accomplish with this writing, I’ve found with time that Bouchard is doing a fine job with that side of things so I now let him look after that stuff while I concentrate on what I do best.
Stacy: So glad you didn't tell us "what you do best"!! I look forward to checking out your book and figuring out more about you - I might even be able to clear out a few of those cold cases I have lying on my desk!
North of the Border: An Interview with Claude Bouchard
By Rob Guthrie - Rob on Writing - December 3, 2011
I love Canada. I really do. How can you not love a country that gave us hockey, maple syrup, Mounties, and Rush? (Moving Pictures could easily qualify as the soundtrack to my high school days!)
So when the Rob on Writing Studios was informed of the upcoming interview with mega-cool Montreal author Claude Bouchard, well, let’s just say the tuques came out!
The Canadian Twitter legend was born in Montreal and still lives there with his wife, Joanne Chase of Cut to the Chase Reviews. Claude and his wife have an agreement on who rules the roost at home: cats Krystalle and Midnight.
Bouchard has an impressive cadre of books. Six novels, with a seventh on the way.
A few bio facts about the man:
Plotter or Pantser: Panster
Favorite band: Pink Floyd (RoW approves)
Favorite song: Comfortably Numb (RoW REALLY approves)
Favorite movie: Toss up between “Scarface” and “The Sixth Sense”
Nickname: “Big C” (back in college)
Top three items on his Bucket List: Attain financial sufficiency from writing; Found a charity for abused children; Rule the world
The limo ride from the airport to the studio is covertly planned over a route that would have gotten Lewis and Clark confused and disoriented, but Claude finally arrives—just as we like our celebs:
Confused and disoriented.
(This way the day-old coffee seems resplendent.)
RoW: Good morning, sir…I hope the coffee is all you’d hoped!
(Mr. Bouchard is still getting his bearings, so my assistant helps him to his seat and sweetens the swill in his cup to mask Saturday’s lingering bitterness.)
CB: This place is a long way from the airport. Was the blindfold necessary?
RoW: We never know who might be trying to locate us. We don’t pull punches down here at the blog. You may have missed some of our previous posts.
RoW: Being a Colorado Avalanche fan myself, and knowing you are from Quebec, I have to ask this first: tell me your feelings about Patrick Roy?
CB: Roy was one heck of a goaltender throughout his career with both the Habs and the Avalanche and deserves all the professional credit received. On a personal level, I was annoyed with the domestic violence incidence in 2000 though I recognize he was later cleared of all charges. To say I abhor domestic violence is a major understatement.
R0W: I’m with you. What you do on the ice doesn’t give you a right to be a horse’s patootie off it. Speaking of the human condition, you studied Human Resources, Accounting, and Management. When exactly during those HR and management years did you realize you wanted to be a writer instead?
CB: I realized I had a story to tell in 1995 and that’s when I wrote Vigilante. It then came to my attention I had a couple of other stories to tell during the two following years. At the time, however, it wasn’t my intention to replace my professional activities in HR management with writing and this is supported by the fact I continued to work in the corporate world until 2008 at which time my position, and those of many others, were migrated overseas. Following a year of home-renovation projects interspersed with some consultation mandates, I pulled out my manuscripts and that’s when I realized I wanted to be a writer instead.
RoW: At least they can’t migrate your characters overseas! All of your books but one feature homicide lieutenant Dave McCall and computer security guru Chris Barry. What led you to writing a series with returning characters?
CB: To start, Dave forgives you this time but informs you he was promoted to captain in The Consultant… Going forward with a sequel just made sense once I had completed Vigilante. My characters were healthy, had no plans to go anywhere and there was definitely more stuff for them to do if they wanted. Mind Games was a natural progression as a third novel. I knew these people and liked them so why push them aside? As mentioned earlier, I did give them a break for a while but once I had published the first three books in 2009, these guys were alive and kicking and screaming for some action so I let them go for it.
RoW: Be kind to your characters, I always say. Your first three novels were written one each year from 1995 to 1997. The Homeless Killer did not come out until 2009. Were you still writing during those twelve years?
CB: In the mid-late 90s, I did some agent querying for a while with little success and eventually grew frustrated with the rejection letters received or lack of response. I was also working sixty hour weeks as HR Manager for a mid-sized manufacturing firm, completing my under-grad studies in the evenings and occupying much of my free time with oil painting. That said, no, I didn’t do any writing for a number of years unless it was company policies, procedures, manuals, etc. The Homeless Killer came to life in 2009 after I reviewed, revised and published its three older siblings.
RoW: Well, we thank you for keeping the policy and procedural manuals where they belong. After so many successful Barry/McCall books, what influenced you to detour with ASYLUM?
CB: ASYLUM came about, not because I wanted to get away from Chris, Dave and the others but rather, because I had an idea for a novel which didn’t fit in the series. I have another such idea juggling inside my head somewhere for a novel entitled The Last Party which may very well be my next project following my current WIP.
RoW: Speaking of “current WIP”, you are writing the sixth Barry/McCall book, Discreet Activities. Can you share some salacious info about the project?
CB: Those who have read my other novels in the series will be familiar with “Discreet Activities”, a clandestine government ops team which was introduced in The Consultant. The main plot of Discreet Activities deals with a terrorist attack in Montreal but a number of side stories pop up throughout the novel to demonstrate the kind of jobs the team’s consultants get involved with. I may manage to release it before the year is out, if not, early in 2012.
RoW: Excellent! Shifting gears, I understand you and a fellow writer, Luke Romyn, are trying to appear on The Ellen Show. Tell me about that.
CB: That’s been going on for about a year now and the funny thing is, it all started as a joke. I’ll just mention that Luke and I had gained some popularity over time on Twitter as we regularly got into some rather inane conversations, often simply spewing dumb crap which many people apparently found rather amusing. Anyhow, Luke and I had each been approached about a video interview, the details of which were then supplied to us by email. The following morning, I asked Luke what he thought about this video gig and someone jumped in to ask, “On what show will you be on?” Off the top of my head, I replied, “The Ellen Show” and the whole thing snowballed into a huge deal rather quickly; such a huge deal, in fact, that we’re still waiting for Ellen’s call.
RoW: Have you tried sending a tape of you both dancing, Ellen-style?
CB: No, we haven’t tried that, mainly because producing such a tape would invariably require that we dance and neither Luke nor I wish to injure anyone, including ourselves.
RoW: Fair enough. One of my researchers told me this: you are #1 on the Canada Twitter Elite on Tweet Grader! I am officially #2 in Parker, Colorado…a bit smaller than Canada, I think. Any advice for me overtaking the top spot?
CB: By simply increasing your followers to several hundred thousand people and sending out a mere one hundred thousand tweets or so, I believe you’d be well on your way to the #1 spot. Alternatively, you could consider moving to Nauru which I guarantee would lock you in right at the top.
RoW: Yeah, I spent a year in Nauru one night…no thanks. Final question—you are a guitar player…what style do you prefer and who were your major influences on that instrument?
CB: I’m a strummer, not a picker and generally play acoustic though I do have a Jackson electric. I play Floyd, Beatles, CSNY and a bunch of other stuff and insist I’m nothing impressive which is why few people get to hear me play. I can’t say I was influenced particularly by any celebrity guitarist though I do believe David Gilmour is among the best. What influences me is watching someone play live. I still remember watching Junior (Fred) Bedrich or Barry Hubbard, two high school buddies, play years ago which is what got me started. I just love seeing and hearing the instrument played up close.
RoW: I’m going to assume Alex Lifeson forgives you the snub. We here at the Rob on Writing Studio really appreciate your time, Claude. Here’s to a safe trip back to the Great White North!
CB: Is there a Starbucks between here and the airport?
DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ Claude Bouchard
By Becky Illson-Skinner - Mystery Writers Unite - November 21, 2011
Mystery Writers Unite is EXCITED to be supporting the work of Claude Bouchard, author of VIGILANTE, THE CONSULTANT, MIND GAMES, THE HOMELESS KILLER, 6 HOURS 42 MINUTES and ASYLUM.
MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main character in each of your books, who is your favorite and why?
Claude Bouchard: If I may, let me first thank you, Becky, as well as the wonderful people at the Women’s Literary Café for having made this interview possible. As writers, we need all the exposure we can get and I appreciate this opportunity.
Now, we can get down to business. J I’ll run through my books in order and will keep my answers brief since I have six out there. Starting with Vigilante, I’ll nominate Detective Frank Bakes. He’s a rough around the edges kind of guy who has been known to put his foot in his mouth. My pick in The Consultant is easily the cool, calm and smooth Jonathan Addley, head of the clandestine Discreet Activities team. With Mind Games, I vote for someone with a minor role, Lonnie, a man-hungry gay bartender who is somewhat amusing. William A. Enright is a shoo-in for The Homeless Killer for his well cultured arrogance. 6 Hours 42 Minutes just wouldn’t have been the same without Louie ‘Bull’ Pellini, a perfect combination of tough and dumb. And finally, for ASYLUM, my only book not in my crime series, I give equal billing to Stuart and Jennifer Russell for being the kids they are.
MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes from each of your books and why is it your favorite?
Claude Bouchard: An even shorter run of quick snappers, all scenes off the top of my head:
Vigilante: When Peter Myers gets thrown off the sixth storey balcony because I love the Vigilante’s pre-toss commentary.
The Consultant: Tough choice due to many great action scenes but I’ll go with when the Mustang goes off Montreal’s elevated Metropolitan Autoroute and crashes to the road below. I can just visualize it.
Mind Games: This one would be when Detective Frank Bakes is questioning Lonnie, the gay bartender at TJ’s. The conversation between the two is quite entertaining.
The Homeless Killer: The scene involving Dougie, Bob, the antagonist convenience store customer and the stun gun. I’m saying no more.
6 Hours 42 Minutes: When Chris Barry makes his presence known in the bank, using a dead robber as a prop. He’s taking a chance but makes it and it’s all believable.
ASYLUM: This one’s easy. When the angry drunk tries to take Matt on while he’s busy at the urinal. A hilarious visual.
MWU: Is there a character from any of your books that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again?
Claude Bouchard: Generally, I would tend to say no, in the sense that I do have recurring characters in my series who have grown with time. The non-recurring characters were, in most cases, directly related to the specific story at hand and either wouldn’t have any role in a future novel or simply are no longer available. J I can mention that when writing 6 Hours 42 Minutes, I created a minor character, Leslie Robb, or so I thought. It turns out Leslie had a mind of her own, took more room in the latter part of the novel and guaranteed herself an enviable spot in my current WIP, Discreet Activities.
MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing?
Claude Bouchard: Since I create my characters, I guess we could say I am them to some degree. As I’m writing a scene, I can visualize it, I can hear the dialogue. I know these people so I know what they are going to say and how they are going to say it. Perhaps it’s because I worked in the field of human resources for many years and dealt with all types of characters. I got to know them and that kind of knowledge stayed with me so now, when I write, I become whatever character I choose to be and do my stuff.
MWU: Are any of your characters in your books based on you or someone you know?
Claude Bouchard: I’ll start by mentioning one of the main characters in my crime series named Chris Barry. One might note his initials happen to be the same as mine, C.B… Coincidence or conspiracy? Let’s just say Chris does some things in his world of fiction which I wouldn’t do in reality. I just help him come up with the ideas.
MWU: How do you choose the titles for your books? Do you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose?
Claude Bouchard: I’m working on my seventh novel and batting 1,000 so far by typing the title first when I start a new project. I obviously have a vague idea of what any given book will be about before I start writing but I’ve always had the title in mind up front. For example, my next novel, if that’s what I end up writing next, will be The Last Party. I’ve got the title and all I have left to do is write the story.
MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from your books (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
Claude Bouchard: I write believable, non-exaggerated, entertaining thrillers. My characters are people, not super-heroes. If they get hit, it hurts. When they’re solving a mystery, they don’t depend on fluke or chance. They roll up their sleeves and do the job. My twists are solid, not flimsy and I never pull out an obscure butler at the end to hang the blame on. Based on reviews to date, all of which were written by readers who were once strangers (and not friends or family), everything I’ve just said about my novels is the plain truth.
MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Claude Bouchard: I’ve never considered it writer’s block. For me, it a mulling period, a time to ponder, sometimes needed to organize my thoughts in order to offer the best possible tale to my readers. These writing breaks are often perfect occasions to review what’s there to date, start polishing rough spots and do some fine tuning. By the time I get back to where I was when the mulling started, I’m usually good to just keep on writing.
MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?
Claude Bouchard: Write because you love doing it, not because you hope to sell a million copies and make a bundle. Review, edit, correct, modify and polish your work and then do it again. Ask for honest opinions and accept comments as constructive criticism. When writing about things you don’t know, research. If grammar is not your absolute forte, get help with your editing. There is nothing more disappointing for a reader than starting a book to find dismal formatting, poor sentence structure, improper use of punctuation and spelling mistakes. It distracts readers from what they are looking for; your story. One more thing; read. The more you read, the more you learn about various subjects, places, events, people, etc and also it exposes you to how sentences, paragraphs, chapters, dialogue and so on are put together to form a book. Never forget that the day you present your work to an agent, publisher or the public at large, your name will be on it so make it the best it can be before taking that step.
MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing over the years and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena?
Claude Bouchard: Insofar as writing goes, I’ve learned and I’m still learning all of what I gave as advice in response to your previous question. In regards to self-publishing, I’ve learned, or might I say, confirmed, what I expected it would be; a lot of hard work. However, there is a satisfaction to being in charge of one’s destiny. I am my company, my employer and my staff. I get to do things my way and get to blame myself if things go wrong. I set my own deadlines, I have absolute say on the final content and covers of my novels and I get to decide on all issues related to pricing, sales and marketing. However, I do repeat, it is a lot of hard work and it requires patience, discipline, organizational and research skills and extremely thick skin.
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?
Claude Bouchard: To new writers, I’ll share some of the wisdom passed on to my siblings and I by our dad when we were growing up. “Decide what you want to be and then strive to be the best at it.” You’ve chosen to be writers. Strive to be the very best writers you possibly can, not just for your readers’ sakes but especially for your own sakes.
To new readers, I’d simply mention that changes in the publishing industry (technological advancements, self-pub, small press, POD, Ebooks) have opened a whole new literary world for you of never before seen works by a multitude of new, unknown authors. Many of these books are available to you for a song and some are as good, and even better, than a number of traditionally published novels out there. Give unknown authors a chance by sampling their wares. After all, consider what you would have read so far in your lives had you only read books by authors you knew…
To my fans… Without you, I’d simply be some guy who writes books. All your kind words, your wonderful reviews and your pestering about when the next book is coming are what allow me to smile and fall asleep at night knowing I’ve succeeded as a writer. Thank you.
Author Interview with Claude Bouchard
By Douglas Dorow - Author of "The 9th District - October 2, 2011
Doug: Thanks for the interview, Claude. Tell us a little about yourself.
Claude: Let me start by thanking you, Doug, for inviting me to do this interview. Now, a little about myself, you ask? Hmmm… I like pizza, cheeseburgers and other stuff too. I live with my wonderful wife and two cats which think we’re at their beck and call and they’re mostly right. I worked in management for many years so my logical career progression was to write crime novels so that’s what I now do. I could have become rich and famous as a rock star but I don’t sing or play guitar that well and dislike playing in public. Many people think I’m brilliant and I don’t tell them any different in order to avoid arguments. I can be witty at times.
Doug: What can you tell us about ASYLUM?
Claude: ASYLUM is my sixth novel and the first which isn’t part of my Barry/McCall crime thriller series. In fact, it’s more of a psychological thriller and definitely different from my other novels. It deals with the head of a psychiatric hospital who has put his work ahead of his wife and kids until he one day realizes he is losing them. He abandons all to whisk them off on the vacation of a lifetime and that’s when the adventure takes off big time. Reaction and reviews to date have been extremely positive.
Doug: How did you get to this point? What is your writing history?
Claude: I actually started writing in 1995 which is when Vigilante was born. I followed up with The Consultant in 1996 and Mind Games in 1997, the next two installments in my series. I did some agent querying at the time but eventually put the writing and my novels aside, concentrating my attention on my career in the corporate world and dedicating leisure time to my painting. In 2009, I pulled out, reviewed, edited and self-published my first three novels then proceeded to pen The Homeless Killer, number 4 in the series. 6 Hours 42 Minutes came out in February 2011, followed by ASYLUM in July 2011.
Doug: Plotter or seat of the pants?
Claude: Without a doubt, seat of the pants. I may do some minor plotting as I go along but letting the story pour out has always worked best for me, obviously with required fine tuning during and after. Some of my novels ended up going somewhere I hadn’t even expected.
Doug: Advice for other authors?
Claude: Review, edit, review, edit… Strive for perfection. This can never be stressed enough, yet so many new writers don’t give these elements the attention they so importantly deserve. Whether your work will be going to agents, publishers or directly to readers, lousy grammar, punctuation, typos, etc. will give you a bad rep before you’ve even really gotten started. Invariably, you will have some errors here or there even once you’re done (trust me) but put in the required effort to reduce them to the bare minimum. My second piece of advice is start working on thickening your skin because this is a long, slow and bumpy ride.
Doug: Do you have a critique group or beta readers or how do you get feedback on your writing?
Claude: The core team consists of me and my wife, Joanne. I write my first draft then review and edit before it goes to her. Following her corrections and comments, I run it through again after which she does so as well. This can happen a few times before the work is in its final state and our process has worked very well to date. When I wrote ASYLUM in the summer of 2010, I asked a couple of ‘intensive reader’ friends to read and critique it, mainly because I was writing in a different genre and wanted to make sure I had done my job. Certain issues were pointed out and after letting it simmer for a while (during which time I wrote 6 Hours 42 Minutes), I polished the rough spots and was ready to publish it.
Doug: Marketing and promotion plans that have worked or you have planned?
Claude: Though I do a bit of promotion on Facebook, my major platform has been Twitter where I now have some 200,000 followers. I send out tweets with links to various pages of my website as well as links to purchase sites such as Amazon and B&N. However, I also send out greeting tweets, witticisms, promos for others and chat quite a bit with people. This has allowed me to develop a large number of friendships with readers, writers and a variety of other wonderful people. which has also significantly helped to improve my sales. Word of mouth can do wonders.
Doug: What's your favorite book, that isn't yours?
Claude: Of the countless books I’ve read over the years, I’ve never been able to narrow it down to one ‘best of the best’. The same is true of authors for that matter. Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Jeffery Deaver and John Grisham are but a few of many authors whose work I really appreciate. One book which I found has stood out as a classic by a current day author is Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, though I wouldn’t lock myself in and give it ‘favourite’ status.
Doug: Kindle or nook?
Claude: Kindle, but only because I’ve never seen a Nook so I can’t fairly compare. We bought a Kindle recently and already had first generation Sony and Kobo eReaders. I preferred the Sony over the Kobo but the Kindle beats the Sony so far. I might add that from a writer’s standpoint, I LOVE the Kindle because that’s where the bulk of my sales are.
Doug: Anything else coming out or available for your readers? What's next?
Claude: As mentioned earlier, in addition to ASYLUM, I also have five previously released novels, all part of my Barry/McCall crime thriller series. I’m currently working on Discreet Activities, the sixth of my series, which deals with a terrorist attack in Montreal as well as a number of side stories my elite team of specialists ‘handle’ along the way. I’m pleased with the progress to date and expect it to be available in the next few months.
In closing, I enjoyed doing this interview, Doug, and thank once you again for granting me this opportunity.
Interview on "The Writers Lounge" with hosts, Lou and Tom Riddell - September 5, 2011
Telephone interview with NYC's Jonnee Kash on StreetHoodRadio.com recorded June 13, 2011 - Note: When I say I was 25 when I started writing, I should have said 34. Idiot. :)
An Interview with Claude Bouchard, Author
By Maureen Thomas Jacobs - DivaCafeMoms - February 19, 2011
Link to DivaCafeMoms website
My latest interview with fellow Tribe author, Luke Romyn on Casey Ryan's "Cutting Room Floor", December 19, 2010
Press play below for my interview with Alex Crabtree on "Extreme Writing Now" - November 21, 2010
Interview with Claude Bouchard
By Jessica Subject - Mark of the Stars - November 16, 2010
Link to "Mark of the Stars" website
Press play below for Round "Two", Luke Romyn & I with "Women on the Move" - November 11, 2010
The Interrogation of Claude Bouchard
by Cat Connor - Author of Killerbyte - October 29, 2010
Link to Cat Connor's "I see you..."
Have I got a treat for y'all today. Please welcome Claude Bouchard to our interrogation series.
Good afternoon, Claude – I hope you’re comfortable. Don’t concern yourself with the wires hanging from that old light fixture. We’re remodeling. Mind the puddles; we don’t want any nasty accidents. -Thanks, Cat. No worries, I’ve got my billy boots on.
What’s your favorite type of takeaway? - No brainer – Dominos Philly Cheese Steak pizza, usually ordered on “Two for Tuesday”.
Describe your current mental status. - Brilliantly chaotic. You know, the usual. My mind is always racing and thinking of stuff; ideas, clever humour, the past, present and future. It does usually take a break when I sleep.
How much of you is in your main character Captain Dave McCall? - I actually have two main characters, one being Dave McCall and the other being Chris Barry. Both are determined, good looking, intelligent and witty men so I’d say that there is a lot of me in them.
Do you have a favorite coffee? - Absolutely! The first cup in the morning is my favourite coffee.
Where did the concept for your latest book come from? - I always find that a difficult question to answer because invariably, it boils down to, “from my head”. My latest book, actually still a work in progress, tentatively entitled “6 Hours 42 Minutes” is the fifth in my Barry/McCall series and the story unfolds in the time dictated by the title. If it ends up being a shorter time span, I’ll re-title it. I was looking to write something that is really fast-paced and decided that I could really make things move by having my story all take place within a short time period.
Walk us through a typical day. (Do you make sure you’re wearing your lucky underpants before you sit down to write, or perhaps you prefer commando? While we’re discussing your underpants, budgie smuggles or boxers… inquiring minds want to know.) – Let’s get the important things settled first. Boxers. As for my typical day, I recently wrote a piece as a guest blogger for a friend entitled “An Aspiring Author” which is now posted on the “Short Stories” page of my website ( http://bigceebee.webs.com/shortstories.htm ) which describes my typical day in fine detail. To summarize, my day consists of promoting the hell out of myself in any way that I can think of and writing in parallel when I have a project going. By the way, I’m usually wearing Cardin or Docker comfort pants and a t-shirt when this all takes place.
Do you ever see yourself writing a vampire story? (Team Edward or Team Jacob… or are you more likely to join me by stuffing your head into a gas oven than ever going to the Edward or Jacob place?) – I don’t have a gas oven but we do have a slow-combustion wood stove which could be just as effective though more painful. I trust this fully answers your question. J
Who would you turn gay for, or alternately who would you turn straight for? – If I woke up one morning and realized that I had turned into a female overnight, I’d turn gay for Joanne, my wife, because we do have a lot of fun together. I’d then go back to being straight once my genes, chromosomes and other funky bits re-aligned the way they were previously.
Who are your favorite writers? - In no particular order, Lee Child, James Patterson, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, Ken Follett, Robert Crais, Dennis Lehane - tell me when to stop. In the not-yet-famous category, I like to also mention John Locke and Luke Romyn as I’ve read all of their available work and truly believe that these boys have a definite future as successful authors.
Who inspires you to do better? - Honestly, I do. I’m extremely demanding of myself and if something is not good enough I come down on myself very harshly. It’s not pretty.
Do you ever put pants on your dog? – We don’t have a dog but we do have two cats if that all the same to you. We tried to get them to wear pants for a while but it was just too much of a hassle when they needed to use the litter box so we now let them go “au naturel”. I really have no objection because they’re both female.
Describe your ultimate day? – My ultimate day is when my agent calls me and says, “You won’t believe it but you have yet another million dollar book deal!” I’m waiting for that day.
Who is your favorite fictitious villain? Or are you all about the hero? Who do you love to hate? – I’m particularly fond of both Wile E. Coyote and Sylvester. Yosemite Sam is pretty cool too.
Do you have any quirks? – I wouldn’t say that I’m a neat freak but I do like things to be in their place. That way, I know where they are when I need them.
All time favorite movie and why? – I’m going to cheat here and if you decide to scold me, so be it. I can’t just name one and the three I’ll name are among many other great movies because choosing one all time favourite movie is impossible. I’ve always enjoyed gangster movies and “Scarface” with Pacino was excellent for its raw realism. ‘The Sixth Sense” wins a spot for its kick in the pants ending and “Being There” with Peter Sellers is one of the most intelligent comedies I’ve ever seen. So there, scold me.
What’s your preferred medium when it comes to writing – pen and paper, computer, typewriter. - Definitely the computer. I’d never see myself writing out a novel long-hand to then have to type it all up.
How did you enjoy the editing process? – I personally enjoy editing which I know many people don’t. My writing must flow and my stories must hold together and editing is the way to achieve both requirements.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? – That’s hard to say for sure but I’ve been to California a number of times and I just love it down there.
What is one thing you know about New Zealand? (Do not mention LOTR. I mean seriously if that’s all we’re known for then as a country we’re in deep hobbit crap.) – New Zealand produces excellent lamb and Orcs.
What’s the worst book you have ever read? – I don’t know if this qualifies because the most I’ve ever read of it is forty pages – “A Perfect Spy” by John Le Carré - boring. If it has to be a book that I read completely, it would be James Patterson’s first novel, “The Thomas Berryman Number”. Luckily, I read that after having read many other good Patterson novels.
Name a book you wish you had written. – Two, in fact; Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” and “World without End”. Both are absolutely fascinating.
How many novels have you written, both published and unpublished? – I’ve written four novels starting with “Vigilante” in my Barry/McCall series which are currently self-published while my agent does her thing. I have a first draft of “Asylum”, not of the series, which is waiting for some revision and expansion and I’m currently writing # 5 of the series. All that said, six.
What were you before you became a writer? – My background and studies were in management, particularly human resources and I held a handful of management positions in H.R. and finance in my prior life.
Wine, beer, or spirits? – Yes, please… Wine, both red and white, beer on occasion and both white and amber rum with Coke or ginger ale.
Gun or knife? – Both, depending on the mood and circumstances. Improvisation with what’s at hand is also something I’m toying with in my current work.
What can we expect from you next? – “Asylum” and “6 Hours 42 Minutes” but only when they’re good and ready.
Do you carry a notebook or keep one by the bed for those sudden brilliant ideas? – I keep a pad of paper on the dining room table and have been thinking of getting a digital recorder that I could just blurb my crap in.
What is the most random thing you have ever written with and on? – I once wrote a recipe on a slice of white bread using peanut butter and then I ate it.
If you’re not writing, what are you most likely to be doing? – Either reading or playing guitar, that is if I’m not practicing self-promo-ism on Twitter.
Well that was fun. Just hold still a minute Claude while I move those wires... you were fabulously cooperative. :)
Press play below to hear fellow Tribe Literary author Luke Romyn & I chatting on "Worth Reading" with the ladies from "Women on the Move" - October 7, 2010
Claude Bouchard Interview
by Lorna Suzuki - author of the 'Imago' series - Sept 21, 2010
Link to Lorna's "All kinds of writing"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share in your novels and all your writing experiences, Claude!
Claude Bouchard Interview
By Stuart Aken - Must Mutter - September 14, 2010
Link to "Must Mutter"
Tell us about Vigilante in a few sentences. - Vigilante is about a serial killer in Montreal who has taken it upon himself to rid the city of violent criminals who have not paid their dues to society and the ongoing investigation by the police to apprehend him.
What qualities do you need to be a successful writer? - First of all, you do need to know how to write. With the advent of online self-publishing, too many people call themselves writers today and put out books with horrendous grammar, spelling mistakes, improper sentence and paragraph structure, not to mention storylines that don’t hold up. You also need to be imaginative, willing to adequately research and be open to criticism.
What is your working method? - I generally come up with an idea, knowing where a story starts and ends and write until I’ve connected the two points. I’ve never mapped out a story before writing it. I let it happen as I go along, sort of like life happens.
What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing? - The single biggest mistake made by beginner writers is probably their belief that a work is complete when it’s actually still a draft. Proper editing and opinions from others are key to getting one’s writing to a truly finished product.
How did you come to write this particular book? - An idea simply began forming and growing for a while after which I felt compelled to record it so I started typing. Roughly eight weeks later, I had completed the first draft of Vigilante.
If you have a favourite character in your novel, why that particular one? - The main characters in Vigilante are Chris Barry, a business executive and Lieutenant Dave McCall, the head cop tracking the killer. I guess I could say that they are my favourite characters as they think like I do.
How can people buy your book(s)? - I’ve written four novels in the Barry/McCall crime-thriller series to date which are available online from various suppliers including Amazon for print versions and Smashwords for various E-Book formats. Other affiliated distributors are Apple, Sony, Kobo and Barnes & Noble, to name a few. The main links are all on my website at http://bigceebee.webs.com/mybooks.htm.
To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer? - As I mentioned earlier, proper grammar and spelling are a must, at least in the finished work. If a writer somewhat lacks in grammatical skills, it is imperative that assistance be sought for appropriate editing and corrections. Readers shouldn’t be expected to buy sub-standard books any more than other consumers would be expected to buy other sub-standard products.
How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off? - That can vary from MS to MS but definitely several times. I general do some revision and editing as I’m going along, going back every twenty pages or so. My spouse, Joanne, usually reads the MS as it becomes available and provides feedback as required. Once the MS is complete, we both completely review it for grammatical errors, typos, wrong words, etc. My sister, Lucie, has also participated in the process, usually once Joanne and I were done and invariably found little things that we had missed. Then, it goes to my editor and agent for judgment.
Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices? - Vigilante and the other three novels currently in the series are set in the Montreal area which I where I’ve lived most of my life. Like many authors, I write about things that I know and Montreal is part of that knowledge in addition to being a wonderful city. I wrote the first three, one per year in 1995-97 so they were set in around that time period. Last year, I wrote the fourth and set it ten years later to keep up with the times. I’m currently working on number 5 which takes place in 2010.
To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world? - As with many things, different people have different tastes in literature. Genre groups books of similar subject matter together, as much for agents and publishers who might specialize in specific areas as for readers who are attracted to certain types of books.
What are your writing habits? - I write something every day. If I’m working on a project, that’s where the efforts go. Otherwise, it can be a short story, Simple Musings which are humorous thoughts which I post on my website along with those of Australian author, Luke Romyn, responses to interviews such as this one and occasional articles as a guest blogger. I generally have a pad of paper and pen within reach just in case something needs to be jotted down.
How do you know where to begin any given story? - That’s easy; at the beginning. Seriously, that’s part of the process which takes place when I get an idea for a project. Thoughts occur, some consciously and others less so and when it’s time to write, I just start writing. I often don’t really know where it comes from.
What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing? - My background and previous career was in human resources management and I do take on an occasional consulting mandate but I generally can dedicate my time to my writing and promotion activities.
Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group? - I have full moral support from my family and friends and, as mentioned previously, my spouse is my first proof-reader/copy-editor/critic and my sister pitches in on occasion.
Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest? - Absolutely. Agents and publishers don’t specify submission guidelines just to be annoying to writers. These specifications are aimed at streamlining their workloads as efficiently as possible. When MSs as well as queries are submitted according to requested guidelines, agents and publishers will give them the attention they deserve. Mind you, this doesn’t mean an automatic deal or representation.
How long does it normally take you to write a novel? - It varies, depending on the amount of research that I need to do but I’d say about three months on average for a completed first draft.
What are your inspirations? - I don’t find that I’m inspired by anything specific. When I think of a story idea, I’m inspired and that’s when the writing starts to flow.
If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it? - That would probably be researching to find that little detail that makes or breaks a scene and not finding the answer or confirmation that I’m looking for.
Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill? - I think that it’s a combination of both. There are skills that are learned such as grammar itself with sentence and paragraph structures as well as spelling. Then there is the ability to use one’s imagination and come up with the storyline that works and then paint it with words so that others can share it.
What are you writing now? - I’m currently working on the fifth in my Barry/McCall series, tentatively entitled 6 Hours, 42 Minutes and have a draft of ASYLUM, which is not part of the series simmering on the back-burner as it waits for some revision and expansion.
Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy? - I love all aspects of writing from the initial idea for a novel through the research and creating of the characters and story to the editing after the fact.
Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit? - People can visit my website at http://bigceebee.webs.com/ and have a look around, not just at the books but all the pages. I have artwork, short stories, some reviews and interviews, Simple Musings mentioned earlier and more. I do love visitors.
Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment? - I have visions of a comfortable, open-walled, covered porch on a beach in perhaps Hawaii or some other similar tropical paradise.
Where do you actually write? - I actually write in our comfortable computer room on the second floor of our home which is not on a beach or anywhere near a tropical paradise.
Claude Bouchard Interview
By Silva Payne - "Writers - In their own Words" - August 14, 2010
Link to "Writers in there own Words"
How much time to you spend writing each week? – That’s difficult to determine as it depends on a number of factors. First of all, I don’t always have a project on which I am working. In addition, depending on the project, more or less research may be involved and since I tend to do my research as I move along, I can sometimes be working for several hours but writing little or not at all. When my writing is flowing, I can write anywhere between twenty to forty hours per week.
Have you been published anywhere, and if so, what was the piece - poetry, prose, articles? – My only published works to date are my four self-published novels. However, I now am represented by Tribe Literary Agency and progress is being made for a traditional publishing contract for my books.
Are you writing for pleasure, or do you aim to make a full-time living as a writer? – I get pleasure from writing and as any true writer will tell you, getting one’s story out on paper is a highly satisfying experience. However, I am intent in making a full-time living as a writer.
Have you gained anything from writing that was not a financial reward? – Absolutely. As mentioned in my response to the previous question, writing is rewarding in itself. Furthermore, validation that my stories work and are entertaining, be it casually by word of mouth or formally through book reviews, is tremendous payback as well. This is like applause for a writer.
Where do you find your inspiration? – Ideas for stories obviously come from what I know and things I learn over time. The inspiration however, comes from somewhere within where required bits and pieces of that knowledge are twisted into something credible and interesting which flow out as a story. I often feel that I don’t know where it’s coming from.
What is the best and worst feedback you have had about your writing, and how did you respond to each? – Most of the feedback I’ve received to date has been positive and, as most people do, I react well to praise. I have had the odd bit of negative criticism along the way, which is normal as I cannot please everyone and which I accepted without any issue since each is entitled to his or her opinion. I’ve also have received constructive feedback which I do my best to put into application.
What are your favourite topics to write about? – I’ve always been fascinated about injustices that exist in our society, specifically in the sense of people often not paying for their actions. The theme around my novels deals with criminally inclined people paying for what they’ve done, along the lines of the ‘eye for an eye’ theory.
What do you consider to be your best piece of writing to date? – I’m pleased with each of my novels to date and believe they are all well written. If forced to choose one, I’d go with Vigilante, my first, since that’s where the series began.
Do you have any favourite writers or pieces of writing by another writer that you would like to share? – I read quite a lot so I do have a rather large number of favourite writers. Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Robert Crais are but a handful of some of those better known. If I was to name a couple who will become well known in the near future, I’d tell you to keep an eye out for the likes of Luke Romyn and John Locke. I’m privileged to call these two gentlemen my friends, both of whom are brilliant writers.
Is there a time of day when you are most productive, or when you prefer to write? – Not really. The real catalyst is inspiration and when that is there, the words just pour out regardless of the time of day.
Are there any subjects you will not write about? – No. If I come up with a story idea, I will write it, no matter what subject it entails. If a story exists, there are no taboos. What is important in my mind is proper research so that whatever subject is being portrayed, it is done so with accuracy.
Anything you want to say to the world? – There would be many things but I will limit it to three which relate to the scope of this interview. 1) Read; that’s what we writers are there for. 2) Don’t blow off self-published authors too quickly because there are a surprising number of excellent ones out there. 3) Please don’t hesitate to buy my books.
An Interview with Author Claude Bouchard
By Lori A. Moore, Author - July 22, 2010
Link to L.A. Moore Interview
How did you first become interested in writing? An idea for a book came to mind and the more I thought about it, the more I felt compelled to put it down on paper. The result was Vigilante, my first novel.
How long have you been actively writing? I wrote Vigilante in 1995 and followed up with The Consultant in 1996 and Mind Games in 1997, both sequels to my first book. I stepped away from writing afterwards for a number of years as I dedicated more time to my career in management and my artwork. I picked up with my writing again in 2009 with The Homeless Killer, my fourth in the Barry/McCall series and have recently completed the first draft of ASYLUM which is a stand alone and quite different from my previous work. This last manuscript requires some refining and I’ve put it aside to simmer while I attack a fifth novel in my series.
Do you currently write as a profession? Yes, I am writing and promoting my existing novels on a fulltime basis. Since, as many writers know, there is sometimes a large span of time between the actual work and the paycheque, I also take on the occasional consulting mandate in human resources, my previous field of endeavour.
If so, what titles have you put out and where can we find them? Current available titles in self-pub versions are Vigilante, The Consultant, Mind Games and The Homeless Killer, all of which are available at Amazon.com in print format and Smashwords in various e-book formats. The first two novels have also been combined into one volume entitled Duo # 1 – Vigilante/The Consultant which is available at Amazon world-wide. Links are available on my website at http://bigceebee.webs.com/ .
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what type of music do you listen to and why? Never. I’m a big music fan and even play guitar which is probably why listening to music while I write distracts me. I end up focusing on the music and not concentrating on my writing.
Are you an avid reader? Absolutely. I could not fathom any writer who isn’t. How could someone be a good writer without appreciating and learning from the works of others?
Who are your favorite Authors? That’s always a difficult question because there are so many who are all top of the list. In no particular order; Lee Child, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, David Baldacci, Patricia Cornwell, Steve Martini, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais and Ken Follett. There’s a dozen but there are many more.
Who was your first character? And how do you feel about that creation now? My first character was a fine gentleman by the name of Chris Barry who has held a central role in each of the novels in my Barry/McCall series. Chris has developed well from one work to the next and is up to his old tricks once again in the book I’m currently writing.
Have you ever worked with an agent? And how was the experience? I had the pleasure of being offered and accepting representation with Tribe Literary Agency in December 2009 for my Barry/McCall series, and am quite happy with my agents, Cari Hawks Foulk and Jonathan Clements, two bright, hard-working pros who will do whatever it takes to get the works of their Tribesters published.
How long did it take to write your first book? The first draft of Vigilante took about eight weeks of evenings and weekends to write. Though it has been revised and edited a number of times since, the original storyline has remained the same.
What is the longest amount of time you have spent writing in one sitting? When working on a project, I often write full days at a time though this also includes required research along the way.
Do you use outlines or flowcharts to help you map out your plots? I don’t use outlines or flowcharts in any formal fashion, certainly not for the plot from start to finish. I may take notes along the way for upcoming chapters (lest I forget) but usually have the idea in mind and write from the gut, often not knowing where it’s coming from.
Interview - Claude Bouchard
by Denis Vaughan - Your Interview - June 22, 2010
Link to "Your Interview"
1. When or at what age did you first write something that felt like a story? I vaguely remember writing a poem which told a story when I was in grade school and may have written other stuff though nothing that is truly memorable today. My first true attempt at writing fiction was when Vigilante tumbled out of me in 1995.
2. Was there any tradition of writing in your family? In a word, no, although my younger sister has taken to writing e-zine articles and children’s stories in recent years. The family tradition was much more so in reading rather than writing. To this day, everyone in my family is a voracious reader.
3. When you’re in a book shop, do you like to browse, go straight to a particular section, or what goes through your mind as you pass through? The genres I read almost exclusively are suspense, mystery, espionage and legal fiction so, upon entering a book shop, I’ll generally have a look in the ‘new titles’ section for works in these categories before moving on to the general sections of works in the same categories.
4. How would you feel if someone told you that you need never write again for the rest of your life and all your material needs would be covered? I did go for a number of years without writing after having completed my first three novels but this was a personal choice during which time painting was my creative outlet. However, I would not be keen about being forbidden to write (though the thought of having my material needs covered forevermore is a tempting one. J). If I have a story that needs to come out, I would like to have the opportunity to tell it.
1. When or how do you get the urge to write? It all starts with a basic idea coming to mind for a story, which in my case generally involves the beginning and the end. Once that is born, I sit and write the unknown ‘middle’ of the story, basically consisting of connecting the ‘beginning’ and ‘ending’ points.
2. When you write, do you feel drawn to a particular genre? If so, would you like to write in a completely different context? If not, what are the areas you are writing in? The genre I’ve been writing in to date is what I call crime thrillers, which is what I enjoy reading as well. To the best of my ability, I try to end my stories with an unexpected twist in order to keep my readers guessing until the end. Asylum, my fifth novel and my current work in progress is my first step away from the crime thriller genre but it will definitely end with a twist as well.
3. Some say that you should write every day, do you find the need or desire to do that, or do you have a different approach? I do try to write every day when I have a project in the works. However, it is sometimes necessary to step back to regroup my thoughts as I determine the direction that a story is going.
4. How do you approach your own writing when it comes to reviewing it? I generally try to re-read what I’ve written as I’m going along in blocks of 10-20 pages or so while it’s still fresh, basically to find typos, wrong words, missing words and to review sentence structure and punctuation. This is not always possible when a major writing flow kicks in and the words just have to keep on spilling out. Once a work is complete, I read it over again, invariably correcting and revising as I go along. Also heavily involved in the review process is my proof-reader extraordinaire and spouse, Joanne, who not only spots grammatical errors and typos but who also questions storyline structure as well in order to identify any possible plot weaknesses.
1. Who do you write for? I guess that I write for myself at the start. I have to be satisfied with my story before I’m willing to share it with others. Past that, I’m writing for those who enjoy reading the genres I read and write. I know that they are out there since I’m far from unique.
2. Do you try to connect with your audience and if so how? As a currently self-published author, I must connect with my audience since nobody else is going to do it for me. The main communication platform I’ve used to date is Twitter where I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of personally connecting with thousands of wonderful people. I feel that it’s important to actually converse with my audience as compared to simply being a selling/promoting machine.
3. Is it important to you how people react to your writing? Absolutely. If it wasn’t, there would be no purpose to making my writing available to the public. One of the big thrills of writing is having others come back to tell you how much they enjoyed your work.
4. Have you received negative criticism and if so how have you managed that? I wouldn’t go to the extent of saying negative criticism but rather, constructive criticism, some of it which I considered applicable and some of it which I considered differences of opinion in writing style. In the same way that there are successful authors whose works I don’t enjoy, I realistically expect that not everyone who has read or who will read my novels will enjoy them. To date, I’ve received many more ‘thumbs up’ than ‘thumbs down’ so I’m apparently doing something acceptable.
1. There are so many published authors and more again trying, what has been your approach to the business? I had written my first three novels in 1995, 1996 and 1997. At the time, I did query for agent representation (back when the process was all snail mail) but lost interest as time went by with no success. A year ago, I pulled out my old manuscripts, re-read/revised them and felt that they had well withstood the test of time so I decided to self-publish them, more for the kick of finally seeing the books in print than for anything else. The review of the three manuscripts also brought my characters back to life and led me to write a fourth novel in the series. Since my books were now available for the public to purchase, I started looking into ways to self-promote them. This has led to modest sales and, more importantly, an eventual offer of agency representation. The bottom line is, you have to believe in yourself as a writer and recognize that if you don’t push your work, nobody else will. That’s what I’ve been doing.
2. Do you feel that there are support mechanisms in place for a new writer? There are a lot of blogs, forums and other sites out there where writers can exchange ideas with and obtain ‘support’ from other writers. There are also many services available (for a fee) to help writers with their editing, presentation, marketing, etc. As mentioned previously, however, if one wants to try to make it as a writer, one must be ready to put in countless hours without any guarantee of success whatsoever.
3. What is your opinion of the printed product against the electronic medium? The printed product remains the commodity item that you can walk into a store and physically see, hold and buy so I don’t foresee paper books being rendered obsolete in the near future. On the flip-side, the e-books which are increasingly available offer the opportunity to obtain instant entertainment from the comfort of your home with a few clicks of the mouse (and your credit card info). With more and more books being made available in electronic format (and sometimes not even available in printed form), this is a medium that is not to be neglected. We have two e-readers in our household now in order to keep up with the times. What I do find a little frustrating with e-books however is that the cost of such a book by a well known author is often equivalent to that of a print copy which is ridiculous considering the production, material and handling cost savings for the publishers and distributors.
Do you see this as a business? If selling books is one of the objectives of writing, writing is definitely a business. The sharing of earnings between the actual creator of a work and other parties involved may often be improperly skewed but it is a business.
Author Interview - Claude Bouchard
by Louisa Robertson - Chapteroneonline - May 19, 2010
Link to ChapterOneOnline Interview
I know I am intrigued to find out a bit more about what makes you as a writer tick so, please tell me and my readers how did you come up with this incredible storyline? To be honest, I really don’t know where the story came from. I’ve always found it horrendous how so many people get away with violent crimes or, at the very least, don’t pay a price commensurate to the crimes committed. I started with the basic idea of having such criminals pay the true price and, since traditional justice systems didn’t have the capacity to deliver, I felt vigilantism was the solution for my story. Once that was decided, the story just literally tumbled out.
How long did it take you to write the original manuscript, and were you happy with the first draft or did you rewrite it several times? I wrote the first draft in eight weeks and was happy with it as far as the storyline went. That first draft was more of a rough map, however and has been revised and edited on countless occasions to become what Vigilante is today.
When you write do you envision your characters as certain actors or people, and if so, who? Generally not but I must admit that when I initially finished writing Vigilante in 1995, Matthew McConaughey came to mind as who might play Chris Barry in a film version at the time.
How did you get into writing, and what did you do before that? I started writing with Vigilante in 1995 and truly enjoyed creating a novel length, realistic story from imagination. Once my characters were born and developed, it just made sense to go on and write what they subsequently did in their lives. The results were The Consultant in 1996 and Mind Games in 1997. These were more so hobbies as I spent my days working in a human resources management capacity. I stopped writing for a number of years after Mind Games as more time was dedicated to my career and other leisure activities such as painting. Having lost my employment due to globalization, I pulled out, reviewed and revised my manuscripts in 2009 and wrote The Homeless Killer, a sequel taking place ten years later. I have self-published all four novels and have since acquired representation with Tribe Literary Agency which is currently seeking a traditional publisher for my work.
What is it about writing that draws you to it? I like to compare writing to reading with the exception being that I’m the one who decides where the story is going. Similar to reading, I often have no clue what is going to happen until I get there.
And finally one question I ask every author because I know it will help my readers; do you have any advice for my readers who are looking to self-publish? First and foremost, one must realize that in self-publishing, there are no editors, no proof-readers, no sales, marketing, promotion or distribution personnel. You are it, or have to pay others to assume any or all of those responsibilities. It is not an easy road and involves a lot of time and effort. All of the issues mentioned are important if you want your book to be a success. Your work must be professionally presented, free of errors and properly formatted. Buyers will be paying good money and will expect a quality product. Stating that you are an indie author is simply not an acceptable reason for a shoddy product. In terms of promotion, nobody out there will be aware that your book exists unless you get the word out, be it via the internet with a website and social media or physically with local bookstores. Be ready to roll up your sleeves if you plan to self-publish and be successful.
And with that I would like to thank you for your time and I look forward to your answers. Thank you for featuring me on your website.
Interview with Claude Bouchard
by Rachel Kovacs - writer, editor, consultant - March 24, 2010
Link to inteview by Rachel Kovacs
1. What books have you written? – To date, I’ve written Vigilante, The Consultant, Mind Games and The Homeless Killer, all of which are part of my Barry/McCall series and best enjoyed if read in that order.
2. Which one is your favorite? Why? (This is what you will focus on for the interview) - If forced to choose a favorite, I’ll go with Vigilante, simply because it was my first novel and where the series began. That said, I have nothing against my other three novels.
3. What is the hardest part about writing a new novel? – I’m a stickler for accuracy and believability so I would say the hardest part is making sure that everything holds together within the storyline. There cannot be any holes anywhere.
4. What path did you take to get published? – I wrote Vigilante a number of years ago (1995) and went the route of querying agents. That was done via snail-mail back then with enclosed SASEs for responses back, some of which never came. Those that did were rejections though a handful of agents did request sample chapters. Though I continued to write for a couple of years and completed my next two novels following Vigilante, I ceased looking to publish at the time and wrote more for myself. In 2009, I pulled out my three manuscripts, reviewed and revised them and self-published with Lulu. This exercise brought my characters back to life and led me to write and publish The Homeless Killer as well.
5. Are you agented? How did you meet your agent? – Yes, I am now agented though I obviously wasn’t when I self-published. I met my agent, Cari Hawks Foulk of Tribe Literary Agency, through networking on Twitter.
6. Where did you find the original impulse to write this novel? Does the plot or protagonist have a personal connection for you? – I can’t say that any specific event spurred me to write Vigilante. It was more a question of looking at the crime which generally existed and being frustrated about some people literally getting away with murder. An idea was born and I started writing. I don’t know where it came from; it just flowed from my fingers to the keyboard night after night for two months until I had a finished first draft. There is no connection with me in the sense of the story being related to any event by which I was personally affected. However, the protagonist definitely thinks like I do in many aspects. The difference however, is that he acts on his opinions whereas I write about them.
7. Did you have a readership in mind as you were putting it together? – I’ve always been rather partial to crime, mystery, espionage, etc. genres so the readership I had in mind would be those who read the types of books I read.
8. Who is your favorite character? Why? – That’s a tough question since I created all of my characters and therefore like them all. However, since I developed Chris Barry as the main character for the series, he gets to be my favorite.
9. What are your views on self-publishing? – Since my novels are currently all self-published, I obviously am for and support self-publishing. On the upside, it gives the writer total control of his/her work. On the downside, promoting and marketing the work so that readers actually buy it is a daunting task. One point that I can make to anyone who decides to self-publish is that their work should be as professional as any traditionally published work. If one expects people to spend money to buy a book, that book should be worth the money spent. I have read some excellent self-pub works over the last year but have also read a number of bad ones. Self-publication is not an excuse for shoddy presentation, poor grammar, spelling errors, typos, etc.
10. Do you read reviews of your own work? Why or why not? – Absolutely! I am proud of the works I’ve produced and want to see if the readers’ perceptions are those that I was aiming for. If I’ve failed to deliver my story to my audience, I need to know. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a number of excellent reviews to date and no bad ones.
11. What other writers inspire you? Why? What other genres and authors do you enjoy reading? – As I mentioned earlier, I write the genres that I also read. What inspires or “does it” for me is any work that captures my attention from the start and holds it throughout, keeps me guessing and holds together. Authors which I read regularly include Lee Child, James Patterson, Robert Crais, Jeffery Deaver, Jonathan Kellerman, John Grisham and the list goes on. An indie author whose work (four novels to date) I’ve read and must absolutely recommend is John Locke. His Donovan Creed novels are extremely well written and thought out resulting in pure entertainment.
12. When did you "know" you wanted to write professionally? – When I wrote my first three novels in 1995-97, I knew that my stories were good enough to compare with those of professional writers. When I brought them back to life last year and people started reading and enjoying them is when I knew that doing this for a living would be a dream come true indeed.
13. What has surprised you the most about being a published author? – I’ll answer this question more in the sense of being a self-published author working hard at promoting my work via social media. I have so far been pleasantly surprised by how many people out there who, of their own accord, are willing to lend a hand by recommending my work to others and by continuously spreading the word. There are millions of wonderful people out there.
14. In your opinion, what is the hardest part of writing a novel? Why? – With each of my novels to date, I had a definite starting point and a pretty clear ending from the get-go but that’s all. For example, at the time of this interview, I’ve written about 12,000 words of my next novel which include the final chapter. The hard part now is writing everything that goes in between the beginning and the end and making it all work. What makes it hard is that I don’t know what that is until I write it.
15. What was the book that most influenced your life — and why? – I really can’t peg one book down because all the books I have read have influenced my life somehow. Reading is a learning tool, even when we read fiction for entertainment. I’ve furthered my knowledge of geography, history, medicine, law, countless industries, various religions and regional customs simply by reading murder mysteries, espionage novels and medical & legal thrillers. As a writer, reading has taught me proper presentation, various writing styles and also helped enhance my vocabulary and grammar.
16. Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you. Be creative. – 1. I’m a brilliant child in the body of a 49 year old man; 2. I am continuously incredibly demanding of and impatient with myself. 3. I absolutely refuse to eat liver.
17. Do you have any new projects coming out soon? – I’m currently writing my fifth novel, ASYLUM, which is not part of the Barry/McCall series. Without going into detail, this work is completely different from anything I’ve written before and somewhat of a challenge. If I can pull it off, and I think (or hope) I can, it will be a very interesting read.
18. What advice would you give to new writers? – Read as much as you possibly can, especially in the genre you write. Take the time required to research whatever requires researching. Edit, edit, proofread, edit, proofread and hopefully, get others to help you do it. Proofread out loud as this forces you to read each word. Get people to read your work and give you a TRUE opinion. I always appreciate someone asking me what I mean by a certain passage or telling me that something isn’t clear. You want your work to be perfect because that’s what people will be demanding in the end. Finally, if your primary purpose of writing is to become rich and famous, stick to your day job. Write because you love to write.
Interview with Claude Bouchard
by Veronica Huerta - Authorpalooza - March 15, 2010
Link to Authorpalooza Interview
1. How long have you been writing? I started writing in 1995, when I wrote Vigilante. I then followed up with The Consultant in 1996 and Mind Games in 1997. Creative writing then took the back-burner as I concentrated on completing my undergraduate studies and an increasingly demanding career path in human resources management. My creative outlet during that time was my painting. I went back to writing with my fourth novel, The Homeless Killer, in the spring of 2009.
2. How thrilled were you when you heard your first book was going to be published? I should specify that my four novels are currently self-published so the thrill was not equal to that of learning that I was being offered a book deal. Nonetheless, I was definitely thrilled on the days that I completed the self-pub process for each of my books and then again each time I saw each one actually in print. Since, the satisfaction comes from noting that additional sales have been made and from praise from my readers. My ultimate thrill to date has been being offered agency representation by Tribe Literary.
3. What's one day in the life of Claude Bouchard like? Boring. Seriously, it all depends on the day. I currently cannot survive on book revenues so some days include job searching, submitting resumes, etc. I’ve been doing some consulting work for a couple of firms so that works into my schedule at times. A good deal of time is spent on promoting myself and my books and building an audience via social media. Throw in some cooking, some writing, a little guitar and the occasional TV show or movie and it’s time to go the bed.
4. Do you have a current project you’re working on or something you plan to begin soon? I’m currently working on Asylum, my fifth novel, which is not part of the Barry/McCall crime series as the previous four were. I can’t give details of what the book is about but can say that it is unlike anything I’ve written in the past. If I can pull it off, it will make for a very good read.
5. In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of being a published author? I’ll take this question to include self-published as well and will answer in that context. The toughest part is being on one’s own. Unless one is willing to contract out promotion, advertising and the likes, getting yourself and your work known is a time-consuming, daunting task. I can just imagine what results would be like if I put in the same time and effort with the additional support of the sales and marketing teams of a traditional publisher.
6. What’s the most rewarding? Once again, as a self-published author, the most rewarding parts are seeing that people are actually buying my books, however little that may be, and having those readers come back and tell me how much they enjoyed my work. Both are quite a rush.
7. If you could co-author a book with any of your fellow authors or anyone from anywhere, who would you choose and why? In recent months, I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with John Locke and have since read all three of his Donovan Creed novels. John’s writing style is extraordinary and his characters are superb. I could definitely see a melding of John’s Donovan Creed with my Chris Barry as both characters are brilliant, witty and willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
8. Describe your writing process. I generally know where my story will start and where it will end. For example, with my current novel, Asylum, I have only written a little over 10,000 words at the time of this interview but the final chapter is already complete. I rarely have any idea of what happens between the beginning and the end ahead of time. It just comes from somewhere as I move along. I may occasionally map out what is to take place in the short-term as ideas come to mind but I have yet to plan a whole book before writing it. I couldn’t do that because I don’t really know the story until I actually write it.
9. What is the most interesting place you’ve ever visited? That’s a tough one because I enjoy traveling and have found most places that I’ve visited interesting. I love L.A. and truly enjoyed Phuket, Oahu, Punta Cana and Sint-Maarten for various reasons besides the sun and sand. If I had to narrow it down to two places, one would be Panmunjom, a village in the DMZ on the border of North and South Korea, where you enter a one-room building on the south side and can cross into communist country simply by walking to the north end. The other would be Hong Kong where the ultra-rich and extreme-poor co-exist literally side-by-side.
10. What can we expect to see from you in the near future? In terms of new work, Asylum will be the next you see as I tackle my projects one at a time rather than work multiple projects simultaneously. Hopefully, you will also see my four novels, starting with Vigilante, in a bookstore near you followed by small or large screen adaptations.
Interview with author Claude Bouchard
by CK Webb of WebbWeaver
Link to interview by CK Webb of WebbWeaver
On Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, I had the sincere pleasure of conducting my very first author interview via phone and e-mail, with Canadian-born author Claude Bouchard. Mr. Bouchard lives and works in Montreal and has four self-published books to his credit. Vigilante, which he wrote in 1995, The Consultant, written in 1996, followed by Mind Games written in 1997 and The Homeless Killer written ten years later. Recently, Mr. Bouchard combined his first two novels, Vigilante and The Consultant into Duo which are available on Amazon.com.
I originally met Claude on the social networking site, Twitter and we quickly became friends. He asked me if I would like to read his first novel, Vigilante and review it on WebbWeaver blog. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and enjoyed this book immensely. I recently asked if he would be willing to allow me to interview him for WebbWeaver and answer some questions from the ladies of the WebbWeaver Book Club.
He agreed and the interview follows:
CK: Thanks so much for doing this...I'm a little nervous.
CB: Thanks for asking me...I'm a little nervous myself.
CK: What was the pivotal moment in your life when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
CB: I had been reading for years; mostly espionage and crime thrillers but in 1995 I got an idea for a story. I didn't really know how to write but I just sat down and started and in two months I had a rough draft of Vigilante.
CK: Is there a line drawn between your art work and your writing?
CB: Not really. I try to concentrate on each equally and focus on them as I work on each particular art form.
CK: Has your writing inspired your art work or vice versa?
CB: Mind Games was the inspiration for a watercolor and that watercolor is also the cover art for that particular novel. The art work also comes out in the writing through references to different aspects of art such as art museums, pieces of art work and the like.
CK: Where does you inspiration for your writing come from?
CB: From a lot of reading and the desire to write something that will pique someone else's interest.
CK: Are any of your characters fashioned after yourself, and if so, which one?
CB: Chris Barry has the same initials as myself. Chris Barry is much grander, much more handsome and more debonair fashioned after myself, who happens to do some things I would never do *chuckles*.
CK: In your opinion, what is the greatest book ever written...one answer?
CB: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
CK: Who is your most inspiring author or who do you enjoy the most?
CB: Lee Child
WebbWeaver Book Club questions answered via e-mail:
Tammie: Do you still enjoy writing after all these years?
CB: Absolutely! I moved away from writing for pleasure for a number of years, not because I didn't feel like writing but simply because I was occupying my time with my painting, guitar and the day job! It really wasn't a conscious decision. It's more that it simply happened. While I was reviewing, revising and self-publishing my old manuscripts last spring, I found my old friends once again and an idea starting brewing to get them back into action. The result was The Homeless Killer which I wrote in about six weeks. Since, I've been spending a lot of time self-promoting my books but have managed to squeeze out three short stories and countless idiocies for the Simple Musings page on my site.
Tammie: Between your art and your writing, which do you enjoy the most?
CB: I hope that "both" is an acceptable answer. I love creating things where I can express myself and let out what's inside. Painting is one outlet; writing is another and playing guitar, another still. Taking away any one of those would leave a very sad void.
Tammie: Who in the literary world would you say is your greatest inspiration?
CB: If by "the literary world" you mean great literary fiction, I must confess that I've never been very attracted by the Hemmingways and Dickenses in terms of preferred reading. I tend to read mainly the same or similar genres as what I write and pinning down one author as an inspiration is quite difficult. John Grisham, Steve Martini and Scott Turow are great with legal fiction. James Patterson rules when it comes to fast-paced page turners. Michael Connelly, Robert Crais (especially the Cole/Pike novels), Jeffrey Deaver and Jonathan Kellerman all do consistently well in the crime genre, each with their own style. Lee Child with his Jack Reacher series also gets glowing praise from me. There are many others whom I haven't mentioned.
Tammie: How old were you when you started writing?
CB: The first time I sat down to seriously write something was in 1995 when I wrote Vigilante so, I was 34.
Tammie: What is your next project?
CB: I'm not even at the starting gate with this one yet so it may end up never seeing the light. However, I have been toying with some ideas and taking notes for a fifth in my Barry/McCall series which could tentatively be entitled Agents will Fall. Very briefly, it would involve a growing number of literary agents being murdered *smile* but let's remember that this would be yet another work of fiction!
Sonya: Does it get easier to self-edit with each book you write?
CB: Not whatsoever! Self-editing is extremely difficult because you know what you are reading so your mind tend to skip over mistakes. If I use The Homeless Killer as an example, I'd type somewhere around ten pages then go back and read them and correct all the mistakes. Next was a printed copy which went to my partner, Joanne for her review and edit (yep, more mistakes). I then reviewed the printed pages again, usually making more corrections before going back to fix everything on the computer. Once the book was finished, Joanne and I reread the revised printed copy, both jotting corrections as we went. Then I submitted for publication and ordered a handful of copies. Jo and I read and corrected again. One copy went to my sister, Lucie, and she got back to me with a number of corrections (most of which Joanne and I had missed). Nope, it doesn't get easier! I do try to read aloud when self-editing as it forces me to read each word and notice missing ones.
Sonya: What literary work is your favorite?
CB: As I mentioned earlier, literary fiction has never been my forte. If I was to pick a classic, it would probably be Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. In terms of a more modern day epic of historical times, the winner is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
Sonya: Is there a particular teacher in your past who sparked your interest in reading and writing?
CB: Not that I particularly remember. Both my parents are avid readers, even more so my dad and we were encouraged to read early on (along with everything else throughout our educations). That said, if anyone gets kudos for sparking interest in reading and writing (and learning in general) for myself as well as my brother and two sisters, it would be our parents, hands down!
In closing, I would like to thank CK, DJ, Tammie and Sonya for your wonderful questions and interest but especially for inviting me to do this interview!! WebbWeaver Rocks and Alabama's First Official Chapter of Book End Babes Rules!! Merci!
Independent Author Interview: Claude Bouchard
by Pittsburgh Books Examiner - Holly Christine - July 3, 2009
Link to interview by Pittsburgh Books Examiner - Holly Christine
Meet Claude Bouchard, the Author of Vigilante
by Liana Metal - Writer & Book Reviewer - July 25, 2009
Link to interview by Liana Metal
Tell us about yourself first. I was born in Montreal, Canada in 1961 which is where I still live with my lovely partner, Joanne and our two black cats, Midnight and Krystalle. I completed my undergraduate studies at McGill University in management and have worked in human resources for most of my career. I love to paint in both oils and watercolours and have been playing guitar for over thirty years. I read quite a bit, mainly mystery/crime/suspense fiction which is also what I love to write.
When did you start writing? I started writing in 1995 which is when I wrote my first draft of Vigilante.
What genres have you written? My four books, all of a series with recurring characters, are mystery/crime fiction.
Is Vigilante your first book? Yes. As I mentioned, Vigilante was my first serious attempt at writing back in 1995.
Tell us about your book. What is it about? Vigilante is set in Montreal in 1996, reflecting the time when it was written. It's the story of a serial killer who has taken it upon himself to get rid of the criminals in this world as a self administered therapy to ease the trauma of a domestically violent childhood. At odds with the Vigilante is Lieutenant Dave McCall who is desperately trying to catch the killer and put an end to the onslaught of murders. When the killer sends an email to the police, in comes business executive and computer guru Chris Barry to assist McCall in tracing the electonic transmissions. Cop and businessman hit it off and work together to track down the killer. I can't say more lest I ruin the shocking ending for my eventual readers!!
What inspired you to write this book? I have been reading all my life and one day starting toying with an idea I had in mind which I believed would make a great story of my own creation. As my thoughts became more concrete, I felt that I had enough to start putting them down on paper, so I did.
How long did it take you to write it? The actual writing time of the first draft was approximately eight weeks. I was working fulltime in the day and would write several hours every evening and many hours on the weekends. Before actually writing, I was laying out the general plot in my mind for about a month.
Who is the publisher of your book? I have self-published this book as well as my three others, all via Lulu.com.
Where is it on sale? My four books can be purchased on line via my storefront at: http://stores.lulu.com/ceebee308
Tell us about your other books/work. Following the completion of Vigilante in 1995, I wrote The Consultant (1996) and Mind Games (1997). These were all reviewed and revised several times, most recently in 2009 prior to my self-publishing them. I recently completed my fourth of the series, entitled The Homeless Killer, which is also now available. Still set in Montreal, my last book takes place ten years later, in 2006, with the main characters (McCall, Barry and others) back in action.
What are the major challenges that you have faced in your career? We did not have the technological possibilities back in in the mid-nineties which we have today. I'm speaking of research possibilities with the internet and POD possibilities for self-publication. I had attempted in 1996 to get some interest by querying a number of agents but let the project drop after a while due to the lack of response and rejection letters. I obviously was not counting on selling books to put food on the table
Has the Internet helped you in your writing career? How? As I alluded to in my previous response, I believe that writing today is made so much easier, specifically when it comes to researching for a book. While revising my first three books earlier this year and more so while writing The Homeless Killer, I frequently had half a dozen internet tabs opened up at the same time where I could find the information I needed for what I was writing at any particular times. With satellite images of locations, cities, streets, down to specific buildings, it isn't as necessary now to go on location to ensure accuracy of what or where we're writing about. I might add that even interviews such as this one would not be possible without the internet!!
What do you advise new writers to do? Write well - proper spelling, punctuation, grammar and so on are key as is presentation. Make your work a quality product because readers want quality, especially if you expect them to pay for your work. Most importantly however, write because you love it!!! That MUST be your primary reason for writing!!!
Thank you! Actually, I thank you, Liana, for granting me this opportunity to tell you and your readers a little bit about myself. I hope that it was as interesting for you as it was fun for me! Thank you!!