Monday, November 3, 2008

Meet Marie-Claude Bourque: American Title V Finalist!

You may have thought the treats were over now that Halloween is past, but we’ve still got a lot of good stuff in store for you this week at Title Magic. And the best part is you can sit back, enjoy, and not even worry about calories.

Last week you had a chance to meet four of this year’s American Title V finalists: Edie Ramer, Qaey Williams, Tamara Hughes and Barbara Longley. This week we’re going to introduce you to the remaining four finalists. Today I’ll be interviewing Marie-Claude Bourque.
Tuesday, Anitra will introduce us to Jessica Drago. Wednesday, Savanna talks with Michelle Lauren. And on Thursday, Mel will spotlight our very own Evonne Wareham, a finalist for the second year in a row!

So without further ado, let me introduce you to today’s talented American Title V finalist …

HB: Marie-Claude, congratulations and welcome to Title Magic! Please tell us your name and where you’re from.
MCB: I’m Marie-Claude Bourque and I am from Québec.

HB: What is the title of your finaling manuscript? What sub-genre is it?
MCB: My manuscript is titled ANCIENT WHISPERS and is a dark paranormal.

HB: I love that title! Can you give us a quick 100 words or so blurb about the story?
MCB: Inspired by the poem Evangeline (Longfellow, 1847), Ancient Whispers tells the story of a bold immortal sorcerer and his obsession to be reunited with the fiancée he lost centuries ago.
Gabriel Callan is the youngest member of the Priory of Callan, an ancient Celtic brotherhood of thirteen cursed sorcerers and alchemists, each deadly, each haunted by a tragic past.
Still tortured by the devastating events of the Acadian deportation in 1755, Gabriel wants nothing more than to reunite with his lost soulmate, now reborn to this century as the cool-headed and practical Lily Bellefontaine.
Pediatric nurse Lily, yearns for a peaceful life in her own dream home. She seeks an existence far different from the experiences of her unstable childhood and purposefully ignores her latent psychic abilities.
Will she ever be able to accept her fate? And can Gabriel let go of his tragic past to live fully in the present?

HB:The story sounds fascinating. What was your reaction when you found out you finaled?
MCB: I jumped on the phone to call my husband. I tried a few times but the battery of his cell phone was dead. I tried to call my mom, but the batteries in our portable home phone were now dead too (we have a pretty disorganized household). I ended up crossing the street to tell my neighbor who was thrilled for me! The best was to tell my two boys in the car an hour later when I went to pick them up from school. Their smiles were precious. They are big believers in their mom’s writing.

HB: I totally empathize about the cell phone batteries. That sounds a lot like our household. Is this your first completed book? Fifth?
MCB: Ancient Whispers is my first attempt at writing fiction.

HB: Wow. This final is a wonderful confirmation that you’ve chosen the right path. Do you have a website?
MCB: Yes,

HB: Very nice website! I particularly like that you’re willing to help other writer’s with any French phrases they may have in their manuscripts. What kind of books do you like to read? Who are your auto-buy authors?
MCB: I read anything I can get my hands on, fiction (literary and commercial) and non-fiction. I’d read a cereal box if left in front of me!! My auto-buy would be Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, Sherrilyn Kenyon/Kinley MacGregor, Christine Feehan (The Drake Sister series), Margaret Weis (her Dragonlance stuff) and dark fantasy author Caitlin R. Kiernan whose books I am currently obsessed with.

HB: What was your biggest inspiration for ANCIENT WHISPERS?
MCB: I was inspired by a heart-breaking poem called Evangeline, written years ago by Henri Wadsworth Longfellow. It relates the plight of French Acadians who were deported from Canada by English soldiers in the mid seventeen century. Some Acadians ended up in Quebec others in Louisiana (the Cajuns).
In the poem, Gabriel and Evangeline are put on separate ships during the deportation and spend their life looking for each others. I wanted to give Gabriel another chance. So in my story, he becomes immortal and meets Evangeline’s reincarnation in modern time.
I’ve known about this all my life because my grand-father told me how the Bourque family was deported from Port-Royal to Quebec, in the same way as depicted in the poem Evangeline. So the story has stayed with me for decades until I was inspired to reunite these two tragic lovers on paper. In fact, all the sorcerers in ANCIENT WHISPERS are inspired by tragic lovers and I plan to give them all a second chance at happiness.

HB: I like the idea of giving tragic lovers a second chance. What is it you like most and admire about your heroine?
MCB: My heroine, Lily Bellefontaine, is a pediatric nurse in Providence, RI. She is very solid, responsible, no-nonsense. She is not your typical kick-ass heroine you may see in the newer paranormal. She could be my best friend, anyone can relate to her. She knows who she is. She is financially secure because she works hard and thinks of her future. She takes care of the great-aunt who raised her. I admire her a lot, in fact I wish I was more like that ☺. It’s nice in the story how she starts as a regular strong woman and then become even stronger as she embraces her magical abilities and is able to dig deeper into her motives to learn more about herself. I love her spiritual journey in the story.

HB: What is you like most and admire about your hero?
MCB: What’s not to love about Gabriel Callan? First, he is very sexy, in a bad boy kind of way. ☺ And he is very tortured by his past, which makes me him tough and somewhat dark. Yet he is very bold. He walks right into action and is fiercely protective of Lily. He also resent being bound to the Priory of sorcerers. He hates being told what to do, a free-spirit. He also has a playful side and loves using magic spells on Lily when they make love together. I just love that he has so many sides to him.

HB: How did you come up with one of your secondary characters?
MCB: Let’s talk about Morag Callan, the High Priestess leading the Priory of sorcerers and mentor to Lily. She is an interesting character. Not completely good or evil. Her goal is to reunite Gabriel and Lily because they are lost souls that were torn apart in an ancient battle, centuries ago in the Scottish Highlands. She is also very much in love with her consort, an old alchemist, which is nice in the story because I show an enduring love between two people of another generation.
She is a very powerful priestess who, as a High Priestess, can summon Celtic Goddesses in witchcraft ritual to perform spells of her choice. I have based her character on my knowledge of Neo-Paganism spirituality. The ritual witchcraft in ANCIENT WHISPERS is more a spiritual journey then simple spell casting. I have both, of course, but the spell casting is left to the sorcerers.

HB: What is the major conflict in your story?
MCB: Well, there is a villain, of course, who wants to prevent Gabriel and Lily to join, because he wants Gabriel’s soul. But the major conflict is between Gabriel and Lily. It is very hard for Gabriel to let go of the idea of Evangeline and he treats Lily as if she was his lost fiancée. Lily is not so keen in being someone else reborn. She doesn’t remember her past life and she wants to be loved for who she is. So even though they fall for each other early in the story, the conflict slowly creeps up on them, kind of like real life, don’t you think?

HB: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MCB: I am a total plotter. I’ve been called anal, OCD and scary! My plots tend to follow the mythical hero’s journey and each element of my stories has an arc to it. I usually will have a list of plots/subplots and make sure that each scenes advance one or more of my plots. I tweak the plots as I go along, but it is usually very detailed and thought through.

HB: As the ultimate pantser, I hold writers like you in awe. Do you write to silence, or do you prefer a little noise?
MCB: I usually write with music. Music drives the strong imageries that I translate in my writing. I have a playlist for each of my projects. Ancient Whispers was written to Nine Inch Nails and Loreena McKennitt

HB: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
MCB: As a mom of two boys, I am pretty busy taking care of them. I like to hang out with my husband watching action movies or discussing politics. I am also an avid knitter and I love to go to the gym to lift weights.

Marie-Claude, thank you so much for joining us today on Title Magic. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and learning about ANCIENT WHISPERS. Here’s wishing you the best of luck in both the contest and your writing career!

Don’t forget everyone - Voting for American Title V begins on Monday, November 10th!


Tamara Hughes said...

Great interview, Marie-Claude! Must be nice to be interviewed for a change instead of interviewing.

Edie said...

Marie-Claude, great interview. I loved reading about your characters!

I thought the same thing as Tami. lol

Evonne Wareham said...

Marie Claude
Welcome to Title Magic. Longfellow will never be the same again!

Mai Christy Thao said...

Hi M-C. Welcome to TM!! Awesome interview. Now I know a lot more about your story. I love the premise, and I love that your heroine isn't going to put up with the hero thinking of her as his reincarnated fiancee. Good for her! This is totally something I'd read. Best of luck in the contest!

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Yes Tami and Edie, it is a little freaking to be on the other side for a change :)

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Thanks for the welcome Evonne,
yes a little twist on the old classics :)

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Hi Mai,
Thanks for the welcome. I'm glad you picked that out. I though that if a guy would come to my doorstep claiming to be my soulmate, no matter how hot he is, I may have a few reservations :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Welcome, Marie-Claude, fascinating interview. I love the idea of lovers torn apart being re-united. I've always created my own happy ending for GONE WITH THE WIND.
Oh, and a website with french words -- I love you! I adore the sound of the French language.
Best of luck!

Holli Bertram said...


I love how the story ties in with your family history as well. I'm looking forward to reading this one!

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Thanks Savannah,
I'll soon be expanding this French page to put a list of words most likely to be found in a romance novel (including what a sexy French vampire might say) as a help for writers. Obviously, I've been too busy to build my list yet. I'll be calling for suggestions soon, so if you have some ideas, let me know now :)

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Thanks Holli.
Glad you are curious and thank you so much for interviewing me here today :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Oh! Thank you! I do have a wip ~ Don't Bite the Fortune Teller ~ where the hero does speak some French words, who is a different breed of vampire. 'Fraid this novel isn't on the dark, dark side.
More French words will help me a lot, since his background is European and France.

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Well Savannah,
Feel free to ask. I have Monica Burns frequently emailing me with questions. Just send me an email anytime!

Lexie O'Neill said...

Great interview! Welcome to Title Magic--I'm looking forward to seeing more of your story!

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Marie-Claude,

Welcome to Title Magic. Lovely to find out more about you. What a wonderful story. I love the fact you based it on a poem.

Lots of luck in the contest.

John Roundtree said...

Wonderful interview Marie-Claude. Your love and excitement for the craft gives all new writers, like me, inspiration. Your characters in "Ancient Whispers" are fascinating. Love the historical plight and drama of the Acadians as a backdrop to the mystery, romance, and sorcery. Reading your interview above, one might wonder... Is there any book you haven't read or any topic you can't discuss with learned ease. I've followed your blogs and wonder if you're not something more that Super. But alas, the dead batteries in your phones give you away... You have your frailties just like the rest of us. LOL!

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Thanks Lexie.
I'm looking forward to read all the first lines of everyone.
Not looking forward to the judges comments thought LOL

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Thanks for the good wishes Helen.
yes, the poem is so tragic, it makes me cry when I read it. I'm glad I can think of a different ending.

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Actually John,
Yes, you finally discovered my weakness. LOL.
I'm sure you'll find more.
I am a terrible housekeeper.
In fact, I'm about to ask Coz for advice :)
But thanks for the compliment, and you would know you read the whole story of Ancient Whispers and it is only good because of your thoughful critique.