Thursday, December 12, 2013

Author Spotlight Chantal Bellehumeur

If you could work with any author who would it be?

That’s a tough question because there are so many good authors out there.  Collective pieces are not so easy to do though.  People can brainstorm together and each individual can have great ideas, but when it comes down to writing an actual story everyone has their own personal opinion on how it should be done.  Every author had their own style.
When I was a teenager I took acting lessons and our class tried to write a play together.  It wasn’t easy for us all to agree on everything. It ended up being an improvisation piece.  Although we had a basic idea of what would happen in each scene and the characters we created had lines, the show was different every time.  Lol
I also tried to co-write a story with my pre-teen son.  We shared ideas, but I wrote the fantasy novel “Sdrawkcab” mostly on my own.

 Who is your favorite author and is you writing style similar to theirs?

I try not to let another authors’ style of writing influence me.

 What's your favorite part of a book?

My favourite part is also my least favourite.  I love the end because I like finding out the outcome, yet I don’t always like a story to be over.  I am a fan of series. 

 When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

Not always.  Sometimes I just take a baby name book and open it up to a page and see if a name will seem right for a character.  Other times names just pop into my head.

Who are your target readers?

Mostly adults, but my fantasy novel “Sdrawkcab” was written for my son and other children around the age of twelve.  (Adults have liked that book too.) 
I write a bit of everything so I don’t really target a specific audience. 
I have a series of fictional diaries that women generally tend to like.   I got very good reviews for my horror novel based on Jack the Ripper.  I also wrote some eerie short stories.  Those that have been reading my family oriented short stories, published in The Suburban Online Magazine, have gotten quite attached to the characters from what I’ve been told.  I recently came up with a science-fiction thriller and have yet to submit it for publication.

Did you always want to write?

Yes.  I used to write a lot as a child and put books together by stapling pieces of papers together.  As a teen I started writing stuff but didn’t always finish what I started.  Most of what I wrote back then were very personal poems that I didn’t want to share with anyone.  I guess I started being pretty reserved about my writing in general at that point.  I stopped writing for a while as an adult because I didn’t really have the time but the ideas were still there.   One day, out of the blue, I found myself writing a novel.  I never thought about publishing it until a friend of mine told me I should.  That was about 5 years ago.  I now have 7 published books and write short stories for The Suburban Online Magazine.

How have your personal experiences affected your writing?

A lot of the things I wrote about were originally inspired by my own life.  I keep a travel journal and it has come in handy many times.

What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing?

Keep a journal or a scrapbook (or both).  Be attentive to what goes on around you.   Sometimes, the simplest things can end up inspiring you.  You could also play make belief games in your head; kind of how children do. (Just don’t tell anyone that you make up characters in your head and that they either talk to you or themselves.  Lol)

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Often an idea just hits me, or I get a dream that gives me inspiration.
For novels I write down a basis outline before I start to write each chapter and for my short stories I sometimes write things in point form before starting to work on the story.  But, my characters sometimes surprise me by doing things that I did not originally plan, or I think or new ideas as I write.

Do you use real-life facts based on true stories?

When I wrote my horror novel “Just.Another.Common.Killer,” I did a lot of research on Jack the Ripper suspects as well as the murders that took place in and around Whitechapel.  I used the facts for the base of my story and added fiction. 
An article I wrote about living with Colitis, a digestive illness I was diagnosed with back in 2009, was published in The Suburban newspaper several months ago in their health section.  Although I was really proud of it, I realised that I much preferred writing fiction.   I was never very good at sticking to facts alone.  I don’t lie, I just feel the need to embellish things when I tell stories.

Did you ever think you'd ever become an author?

No.  I was actually more interested in acting before.  I originally took theatre classes to overcome my shyness and ended up really loving it.  I performed in a few amateur stage productions and joined a youth run theatre company.  I then got accepted in the Theatre programme at Concordia University in Montreal.  I found out I was pregnant and only completed one semester.   I never went back to finish my degree because I wanted to be present for my son.  I later got an agent and was an extra for a few movies, TV shows, and commercials for fun.  Then I picked up writing again and realised that it was very similar to acting because I had to put myself in the shoes of my characters.  I could do it on my spare time so it became my favourite hobby again.

 If I became a writer- what tips would you give me?

-Never stop writing.  The more you do it, the easier it will get; just like playing an instrument, doing a dance routine, or memorizing lines.  
-When you get an idea, right down the basics right away.
-Accept constructive criticism, but ignore critics who simply bash your work.  You can’t please everyone. 
-Be grateful for the readers you have, even if you don’t have many at first.
-Get involved in marketing your work.

Which of your books is your favorite?

I am mostly proud of my horror novel “Just.Another.Common.Killer.”
You can view the trailer on YouTube.

What is one thing you cannot live without?

You mean aside from writing material?  Lol Lip balm.  I would have said my son, but you asked what THING I could not live without.  

What is your favorite childhood memory?

I have a lot of good childhood memories.
My sister and I were pretty imaginative and came up with fun new games.  We were probably the only kids who invented a general story before playing house or Barbies.  Lol  We also use to record book readings and had our own theme song to go along with the “show” we did.  We added sound effects.  I wish one of us still had those tapes.  I am not sure what happened to them but I am sure we would both get a good laugh if we listened to them again.  My sister and I laughed a lot together (when we were not arguing about stupid things)  We still share laughter together, but unfortunately it does not happen often because we live in different cities and don’t talk on a regular basis anymore.  When we DO talk or get together we usually end up laughing until our bellies hurt.
I also had a lot of fun with my best friend Sarah as a child.  Her and I were very creative.   We used to build indoor forts and have sleepovers, make little crafts and sell them to our parents and neighbours, and make up all sorts of games.  I really miss her.  We used to live right next door to each other but now she lives in Belgium with her boyfriend.  I visited her there once and hope to do so again soon. 

Who is/are your role model(s)?

I am not really sure to be honest.

 Do you have a writing spot that only you can go to work? If so, what does it look like?

I usually just sit on my couch and have my laptop on a wooden fold out table in front of me.  I need silence when I write.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I sit at my computer, start to type, and just think about what my characters could be doing.  The more I write, the more ideas pop into my head.  I ignore the real workd.
It’s weird, I normally need to eat every couple of hours or I feel like passing out.  However, when I am focused on my writing it’s like time stops and I forget that I need to eat or sometimes even sleep.  

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

The first thing that pops into my mind is scaring a pizza delivery man by showing up being him wearing a ghost face costume (from the movie Scream) during a friend of mine’s birthday party one October.

If you could have any job in the whole wide world that you could imagine or make up, what job would that be?

Part of me would not mind getting paid to travel the world and write about it, but that would not be really fair to my son.  We travel together during our vacations, but if we did it all year round he would miss his friends and I would have to hire a teacher just for him so that his studies would not be affected.  I could not leave him behind.  I love him too much to do that.  

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