Author Interview - Jeannette Bedard

Author Interview - Jeannette Bedard

It was a dark and stormy night...

This was the first line of the first piece of fiction I ever wrote. I think I was about ten at the time and the story was about a wizard in his tower working on potions. This wasn't my first foray into imaginary worlds, just the first one I wrote down (sadly, I don't have a copy now).

As long as I can remember, my imagination has been swimming with stories—almost always set in a fantastical world (futuristic or fantasy) filled with adventure. But, I've never considered myself much of a writer being mildly dyslexic and a non-linear thinker.

A few years later, when I was in high school, I started mulling over a new story idea and I started writing it down. The story was military science fiction – a genre I’d never read any books in at the time. At that point in my life, I don’t think I’d even read any science fiction beyond A Wrinkle in Time. But, I kept at it, taking the manuscript with me to university—two years later it was done.

I don’t remember the full plot of my book, just snippets of a post-apocalyptic Earth, space ship battles and a futuristic prison. My original idea included pegaus-style horses with wings, but couldn’t come up with any reasonable explanation of how they could possible generate enough lift to get off the ground so I edited them out. The title was Twilight—chosen over a decade before that title was linked to vampiric romance.

I still have a copy of this one. The stack of printed pages are thick enough to be roughly 70,000 words, an okay length for a novel. I’ve been debating if I should read it or not. Over the years after that, I wrote three more novels that are still stashed (un-read) in binders on my shelf along with notebooks full of ideas.

To my surprise, when I started grad school in a mathy, science discipline, the first piece of advice my supervisor gave me was to start writing—and he wanted to see my early drafts. I handed in a potential thesis chapter right away with my non-linear thoughts and taciturn writing on full display.

He was brutally honest about the state of my writing, but he was also clear that the mechanics of writing could be learned. He pointed out that writing about science is an exercise in story telling, or at least it should be, and that the only way to become a good story teller was to practice. So I practiced (and practiced….and practiced…and am still practicing…).

What's your favourite genre to read? Is it the same as your favourite genre to write?

Science fiction is my default genre—I love exploring fantastical new worlds (most recently I've been looking for cozy mysteries set in space). However, I read a lot of fantasy as well. I’m also trying to dabble into other genres, recently I finished the Indiana Jones style adventure The Antiquity Affair by Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne and it was fabulous.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Last summer I had to buy a new books shelf just to contain my TBR pile, so I think it’s fair to say the pile is somewhat out of hand. These three are next up (probably): The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi, The Circumference of the World by Lavie Tidhar and Starling House by Alix E. Harrow.

I find I’m always searching for books that are slightly weird, occasionally humorous and full of wonder. And I need to like the main character. I’m doing my best to put down books that don’t fulfill those criteria.

What scene in your book was your favourite to write?

My favourite scene is in Hope is the Thing With Feathers.

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a book of fairytales. The book was old back then, so I wouldn't be surprised if it dated back to the Victorian era. It had a couple of coloured pages in it—scenes from a couple of the stories. One was of a glass corridor under the ocean with a man looking up at the ocean life above. For some reason that image resonated with me, and finally in this book, I wrote my own take on it.

Do you have any quirky habits?

I'm heavily into notebooks and coloured pens. I have piles of filled notebooks of world building ideas, plot schemes and doodles.

I also sew, and am embarking on making myself a Star Trek Wrath of Khan era uniform—and I plan on wearing it when I go to my husband’s 501st Legion events (he has made himself a storm trooper costume).

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

One of my aims is to create wonder-filled worlds and fun adventures. I long ago accepted that my writing is escapist entertainment and I hope that readers are pulled out of their normal world for a little while.

What’s up next for you?

I have so many shiny ideas it’s hard to choose which one to work on. I have a novel tangent to the Encoded Orbits series that is in the editing stage. But first I’m going to spend some time writing short stories. 

As for new novels, I have a hard scifi sequel idea planned for Hope is the Thing With Feathers and a stand alone time travel book (which so far is very shiny and potentially a lot of fun).

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