Today I welcome Marie Bilodeau as my author in the spotlight.
Marie’s space fantasy series, Destiny, (Destiny’s Blood and Destiny’s Fall, published by Dragon Moon Press) was a two-time finalist in the Aurora Awards and won the Bronze Medal for Science-Fiction in the Foreword Book Awards. She is also the author of the Heirs of a Broken Land (EDGE Science-Fiction and Fantasy), a fantasy trilogy described as “fresh and exciting” by Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo award-winning author of WAKE. Her short stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies and have also been nominated twice for the Aurora Awards. Marie is also a professional storyteller, telling adaptations of fairy tales and myths, as well as original stories of her own creation. She’s a passionate advocate for paper airplane contests, peach desserts and caffeine consumption.
#1: Why do you write?
Because there are so many stories to tell. Too many for one lifetime, I suspect, but that’s okay. I’ll get as many out as possible during this busy life gig.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience:
I was about six years old, writing on my dad’s TRS-80 (quick, guess-timate my age!). I’d written, very slowly and painstakingly, this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It might have actually been Little Riding Hood exactly as I’d heard it, as I now suspect it was, but at the time I felt quite clever. After writing “La fin” (The End in French), I hit the Enter key. Turns out I was in the command prompt and not in an actual word processing software, so the whole story just vanished. I cried, sure, but I’d also learned that I liked making up (rewriting, whatever) stories. And I also learned never to trust computers. Two invaluable lessons.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
My alarm goes off around 5:30. If the sun is up (which it usually is at that time for about one month where I live), I get up a lot faster than if there isn’t. I stumble downstairs, avoid tripping on cats, make coffee and start writing until I have to leave for work (I get dressed and brush my teeth somewhere in there, too). On a good day, I get 2,000 words. If my week isn’t progressing well, if a deadline is coming up or just if I’m realllly into my story, I’ll dedicate most of my Sunday to writing, as well as evenings. I don’t do edits in the morning – not awake enough. Evenings or during airplane rides are my best times to edit.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
I won’t even try and form a list of authors whose books have influenced me. Every book does, in a way, either in a “I want to be as good as this!” or a “wow, let me never suck this much” way. Anne Perry sat down with me once and read a page of my then work-in-progress Destiny’s Blood. She looked up and said “This is actually quite good. It doesn’t suck at all – I would keep reading this.” That worked for me.
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
Honestly? Your definition of success will keep shifting, so it’s a difficult thing to achieve. So that fact that your happiness shouldn’t rely on your perceived success has been my main takeaway in this writing journey. Don’t focus on the mythical outcome, because in writing, you will never know it. Seriously. There’s always something more to be achieved, something more to strive for, another goal, another publishing contract, another commercial or critical success hurdle to be crossed, so there will never be an end or an outcome. Just keep on working and stop hinging expectations on things that aren’t in your control. All you control is what you write. So, make that as good as it can be!
#6: Describe your writing method:
I remember once, when I was maybe 14, my cousins dragged me to this steep, private hill somewhere in Montreal for some downhill sledding. It took us half an hour to bundle for the journey, which seemed like forever. It was dark and snowing, and I didn’t know where we were. We jumped a fence and I ripped my snowsuit. We climbed the hill in at least half a metre of not yet packed snow, fell over a few times and struggled back up. My legs hurt and my lungs complained at the cold. Then we positioned ourselves on our giant toboggan and we pushed off. It was slow until we cleared the top of the hill, and then we plummeted down, hooting and hollering, until we hit a slight, hidden incline and went flying up. My cousin flew off the toboggan first and kicked me in the head. I was suddenly airborne and didn’t know what was up or down anymore, everything was white. I landed with a crash and kept tumbling down the hill until I landed at the bottom, on my back. A moment of stunned silence, and we all jumped back up laughing and started scaling the hill again. My writing method is kind of like that.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
When you climb that hill, try and remember it’ll be followed by a fun and breakneck ride down. You don’t know when, but you’ll never experience it unless you keep on climbing.
Marie Bilodeau’s featured book is Destiny’s Fall, a finalist for the Aurora Awards. It is a science-Fiction novel published by Dragon Moon Press and releases November 2013. It also has someone with two left legs in it, and Marie say when her editor talks about her book, she talks about that, which makes her giggle.
A broken tradition. A hunted child. A rebellion that threatens to topple the very fabric of the universe.
When Layela Delamores gives birth to her first child, the ether immediately rejects what should be its only heir. A wave of destruction sweeps the ether races and sparks Solaria’s ire and rebellion on Mirial. A new heir rises to take the throne of Mirial, one who wields tainted ether.
Unable to access the flow of ether, Layela is left with little choice but to flee Mirial, seeking answers that may no longer exist, prepared to sacrifice everything to free herself and her daughter from the clutches of the First Star.
Avienne Malavant clutched her drink as though it were the last water left in the universe. It wasn’t water – was too precious to ever be called that – but rather a mix of ales she had come across on her latest caper. Two portions of something-aquiesque, one shot of some pink thing and two pinches of carefully weighed astium, which could otherwise easily be a poison.
But it wasn’t when mixed this way, and turned out it was delicious. Of all the ways to go, Avienne thought, astium might actually prove the most pleasant.
She clutched the drink and leaned forward heavily, mesmerized by the pink and green hues swirling in her thick glass. She wasn’t sure if she should down the drink or just stare at it. The bar around her was bustling with activity and she wanted no part of it. She was known in these parts, so no one would bother her – unless they were interested in bleeding, of course – but the problem was not with her entourage.
If she drank this stuff, which she loved, she’d get friendly. She’d laugh, she’d slur a few jokes, possibly make out with some ugly trader, possibly throw a knife to show her finesse, and then possibly kill someone. It had happened on Thalos IV, which was why she now avoided that planet like the plague. Thankfully the man she had practically swallowed, kissing him so hard (a one-eyed fuzzy half-naked middle-to-late-aged man with a belly she could use as a mattress) turned out to be the same one she had showed her prowess to, neatly embedding her knife in his forehead as a “show of her ability.” His death had been a small blessing, since at least it meant he couldn’t brag, but she still flushed red at the thought of enthusiastically making out with that man in front of everyone, and then missing her shot. Not just missing a little bit. She had been targeting a glass of ale on the opposite side of the room from him, but her fingers had been loose with drink when she had swung back to prepare her throw.
The missed shot was much worse, she decided. She didn’t mind having her taste in lovers questioned, especially since she questioned it herself, but for her ability to throw knives to be questioned was not something she could live with.
Avienne sighed and leaned back, still clutching the swirling drink. A large man sat with a Slont nearby, winking at her when she looked his way. He was missing most of his teeth and she was pretty certain that, although it was difficult to tell in this light, one of his ears was missing, too.
Just my type. She pushed the drink away untouched and looked up at the dark ceiling. She would definitely not be drinking tonight.
She wished she knew where to go next. Well, she knew where she was going next – to Mirial, where her niece/nephew or what have you should be born by now, or Layela should be really large and downright cranky. She wanted to see her brother badly, but she didn’t, at the same time. Every time she saw him it was the same story. He was settled, happy, fulfilled. And now with a bouncing baby he would be even more insufferable, she imagined.
She didn’t begrudge him his happiness. Part of her, a petty, small part she tried in vain to keep locked up, was angry with him for having left her. They had been partners forever, watching each other’s backs, going on adventures, and he would never do that again, she knew. Yet a long time ago she had been the one wanting to settle and he hadn’t even been able to fathom the idea. Not until meeting Layela, anyway. Of course, the Destiny was long gone by the time he settled with Layela to grow Mirial and their relationship.
And, she admitted, the two had tried. Layela had taken her in, allowed her to design her own quarters in the palace as they rebuilt, welcoming her like a sister, even though Layela still reeled from the loss of her twin sister, Yoma. And Avienne had tried, too. It had been thrilling at first, living on such a beautiful planet, marking days by sunrises and sunsets and making a new family. But something had been missing.
All of the tomorrows were the same. The same chambers, the same people, the same sunrises, the same gardens with their slowly growing flowers. Avienne had always wanted to stay in one place and to breathe unrecycled air for long periods of time, but once she was there, she felt bored and restless. Layela and Ardin had understood her desire to leave, of course. Ardin had been supportive.
Almost too supportive, bloody bastard.
Avienne leaned in and chugged the drink, wincing as it burned all the way down. She turned the glass upside down, banged it on the table and burped loudly, leaning back on her chair and winking at the large man who smiled a wide toothless smile back at her.
Blood and bones, that stuff’s fast! Avienne stood, the room swaying pleasantly around her. Before she could take a step the door banked open and sunlight poured in. Was it really still day? What was wrong with this wretched planet?
Avienne’s mind cleared at the sight of two Solariers — Solarian soldiers were hardly a usual sight in this smuggling port. Only the sun-symbol of Solaria distinguished the colour of their uniforms from the smoky bar. She heard a commotion outside. Something was going on. Avienne shook her head in an attempt to clear it, only to make herself more dizzy.
She could hear some shouting and screaming. The Solariers ignored her and headed to the table with her future lover and the ether creature, a blue-skinned Slont. She looked down. The man was wearing his regulation gloves. That didn’t stop the Solariers from walking up to him and grabbing him, slamming him hard into the table as they cuffed his hands.
“I didn’t do anything,” the man said, his thin voice calm despite the mistreatment.
“And we’ll make sure you never do,” one of the Solariers responded in a sneer. Avienne took a step closer. She didn’t like the sound of that, one bit. Adrenaline pumped through her body, clearing her head.
“Leave him alone.” Her targeted lover stood. He was tall and had a deep, booming voice, which pleased Avienne and surprised her, all at once. The men here didn’t usually have any redeeming quality, much less two. Without a word one of the Solariers pulled out his gun and shot the man in the chest, sending him flying against two other tables, blood smearing the patrons as they fell under the dead man.
Avienne pulled out two knives and let them fly, making sure to keep her grip firm until it was time to let them go. One of the Solariers fell screaming with a knife embedded in his eye, but she missed the other and hit the wall beside him.
She jumped sideways as a bolt warmed her cheek, and another shot rang out as she fell. She quickly stood back up, knives in hand, but the Solarier was dead, shot from behind. The bartender spat a big glob on the floor.
“No’ne kills ma custamers,” he said, spitting again, his grease-ridden clothes catching the glob. Avienne smiled at him and sighed as she looked at the stunned Slont. She winked at the barkeeper. “Another day, perhaps.”
He horked again as she bent down and quickly stripped one soldier of guns, ID cards, mission box and a set of handcuff keys. The patrons were making swift work of the other Solarier, taking much more than Avienne would ever even consider.
She was apparently soft for these parts.
“The streets are crawling with them,” someone said from the door. “They’re taking the ether creatures away!”
“Great,” she mumbled as she fumbled with the guard’s keys, trying two before one finally clicked open the Slont’s handcuffs.
“Where do I go?” the Slont whispered. His eyes were desperately blue, matching the hue of his skin. She looked down at the mission box, quickly going through the latest orders. Her skin turned cold and the last of the booze was washed away in dread.
– Bring all ether creatures to detention chambers. Use extreme caution. –
She grabbed the Slont by the upper arm and pulled him up. She doubted any of Solaria’s intentions were good.
“You’re coming with me,” she said, dragging him behind her as they headed out the back, the barkeeper nodding to them before turning to pour another drink as though nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. She grabbed an encrusted tablecloth and threw it on the Slont.
“Cover yourself. My ship is a ways from here.”
She sent a message to her ship, ordering her crew to get ready for departure, but not to make it obvious. The Slont followed quietly and unquestioningly, still looking dazed. She could hear shouts in the distance, some shots and screams… She wished she could save more ether creatures, but there were too many Solariers. One would have to do. One’s plenty for a smuggler, really!
She stepped out into the streets, sharpened her senses to the treacherous daylight, and sought the shadows that would see them safely back to her ship, the Desiccate.
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Fan email address: firstname.lastname@example.org