Interview of Hélène Boudreau
Congratulations on your Crystal Kite Award.
Thank you, Stephanie!
Your presentation of your winning picture book was informative and encouraging to those looking for that first acceptance .
You did share your inspiration for I Dare You Not to Yawn at the recent SCBWI Canada East Conference. Could you please share it for those who could not attend?
The writing life can be an exciting one, especially when the roots of a new idea start to take hold. That thrill in your belly when you strike upon inspiration is something we all search for and it is the magic that keeps us going. When you get into the nuts and bolts of seeing a spark of an idea through to actual execution, though, it can be a frustrating and lonely time. There is so much grunt work that goes into creating any kind of art and when you are collaborating with an editor, agent, or critique partner you are open to scrutiny and criticism so it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like giving up. If you persist, though, that thrill in your belly that first inspired you to pursue an idea will come back. That’s when you’ll know all the long hours, tears, and sacrifice were worth it.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Like all of my books, my first book, Acadian Star, was inspired by a mixture of my culture, my family, and my experiences. But those are only a starting point. If authors always followed the old adage of ‘write what you know’ that would leave little room for fantasy, creativity, and richly drawn stories. I usually write what I want to know and Acadian Star was borne out of a desire to know more about my Acadian culture and to tell a story to share with my children.
What are your new titles and can you give us a hint of what they are about?
My latest picture book is I Dare You Not to Yawn, which is an ‘anti-bedtime’ tongue-in-cheek guide for kids who aren’t quite ready to go to bed just yet. I also recently published the 4th volume of my light-hearted contemporary fantasy mermaid series called Real Mermaids Don’t Sell Sea Shells.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
Growing up, I pored over cartoons and comics and especially loved The Far Side by Gary Larson and Garfield by Jim Davis. There is something about that art form that I find so clever. Cartooning is not just about getting the laugh, though, but more about relating to universal truths. I try to incorporate those same feelings of setup/ build up/ punchline in my writing and also hope that the underlying authenticity of my story reaches readers.
What books are you reading now?
I am on a non-fiction kick at the moment, especially autobiographies of comedians. Funny people are often very layered and deep, often with rich complicated histories, and I love reading about them. I am really looking forward to Mindy Kaling’s new book Why Not Me? and hope it’s as funny and inspiring as her first.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was in elementary school I won a ‘Caption this Photo’ contest and won a pair of jeans, then I entered a writing contest in my local paper and placed in the top three. I realised I had something to say and when you’re from a family of eight children, it’s sometimes hard to be heard. Writing and humour was a way to express myself in my own quiet way.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
All the time! In fact I’ve hated every book I’ve ever written at some point or another.
While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
I think for any type of character an author needs to immerse themselves in that role just like an actor researching a part. When you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste the experiences your character is facing, that makes for a fully executed three-dimensional character, which will hopefully translate into a rich sensory experience for your ultimate reader.
Do you see writing as a career?
I do consider writing as my career and feel very fortunate to do so.
Have you any other ideas for any more books?
Always! I am working on a completely new project at the moment and trying to focus on having fun without worrying about the end result. Who knows if it will ever be published but stay tuned!
Connect with Hélène: Website | | |