The Object Interviews continue today with author Claude Bouchard, who talks about what inspired his thriller novel Vigilante, how he knows John Locke, and how aspiring authors should present themselves with social media.
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.
I was born in Montreal, Canada, where I still reside with my spouse, Joanne. I completed my 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. I should also mention I love pizza, but who doesn’t and, in my opinion, nothing rocks more than cooking on the grill.
My first stab at writing was in 1995, the result being my 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 me away from writing for a number of years but I found myself busy at the keyboard in 2009 with The Homeless Killer after having finally published my first three novels. I then followed up with 6 Hours 42 Minutes in 2011, also part of the Barry/McCall Series born from Vigilante. In July 2011, I released ASYLUM, my first stand-alone novel and Discreet Activities, my sixth Barry/McCall crime thriller was published in January 2012. I think I’m really starting to like this writing thing.
Besides writing, editing and promoting my work, I also spend some artistic energy with my five guitars, oil paints and watercolours. Other passions include cooking (big time with fine wine to go with it, of course), reading, traveling and working out just enough to stay fit. It should also be noted that following several years of practice, I now excel at being cat furniture for Krystalle and Midnight, or so they tell me.
You can visit Claude Bouchard at http://www.claudebouchardbooks.com