Monday, November 21, 2011

DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ Claude Bouchard

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 (see below).

Claude 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.

His first stab at writing was in 1995, the result being his first novel, Vigilante. This was subsequently followed by 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 has recently completed ASYLUM (2011) which is not in the series and 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 watercolour, reading, traveling (budget permitting) and planning to work out. 

--- Interview 

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. 

--- Claude Bouchard Books 

ASYLUM - As Managing Director of the Montreal Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Doctor Matthew Russell has always put his professional responsibilities ahead of all else. That is, until he one day realizes he is losing his wife, Cassidy, and his two children, Stuart and Jennifer.

With only his family in mind, Russell takes an adventure-filled, impromptu vacation of indefinite duration, leaving all else behind and stopping at nothing to show how much he cares for his loved ones in an effort to win them back. But, will he succeed… Or, will it prove to be all too late in the end? 

6 Hours 42 Minutes - Though most of them dabbled in a variety of criminal activities, they weren't experienced in this particular field and had never been involved in a job like this before. However, with proper planning, careful organization and the inside information available to them, they were certain that this bank heist would be a piece of cake. Ten minutes, in and out, was all it would take and they'd be sharing 2.5 million dollars. Nothing could go wrong as they had thought of everything... How could they possibly know that a new member of the board was visiting the bank that morning? How could they know that the new board member was Chris Barry? 

The Homeless Killer - Ten years later, Captain Dave McCall and multi-millionaire, turned government operative, Chris Barry join forces with Jonathan Addley, head of the clandestine 'Discreet Activities' in a race to capture 'Allan', a serial killer who has taken it upon himself to permanently rid the city of all variety of street people. 

Mind Games - A string of sex slayings plagues Montreal and has Captain Dave McCall and his Special Homicide Task Force in a frustrated frenzy as they try to bring an end to the vicious butchery. Assisted officially by the noted psychiatrist, Doctor Samuel Bowman and unofficially by his close friend, computer genius and multi-millionaire, Chris Barry, Captain McCall works his way closer and closer to the truth, unaware that they are heading deeper into the core of deadly Mind Games. 

Vigilante - Summer of 96 in Montreal and a killer known as the Vigilante is on a spree, his victims, those who engage in criminal activities. Following 16 murders in 6 months, Lieutenant Dave McCall, head of Montreal's Special Homicide Task Force is without clue or lead until an electronic message is received from the assassin himself. Failure in tracing the origin of the email leads McCall to request the assistance of CSS Inc., a security firm specializing in computer and communication networks and headed by EVP and COO, Chris Barry. As murders and emails continue, the two men join forces to bring the killer to justice. But whose justice will prevail? Theirs, or the Vigilante's? 

The Consultant - WARNING: Do not read this book until you have read Vigilante. Consider yourself warned!!

Murderers, drug lords, biker gangs, kidnappers... None stand a chance against... The Consultant. 

This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join CLAUDE BOUCHARD and 9 of his author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!


Claude Bouchard said...

Excellent interview, Becky! :)

Becky Illson-Skinner said...

It was my pleasure Claude -- it is easy to make great look good!