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?