[Editor’s note: this is a continuation of our interview with Michèle Laframboise which posted Monday, April 27.]
LSQ: When and why did you begin writing?
Michèle: At primary school, I wrote, drew and assembled three adventure books, complete with illustrations, featuring girls in my class. In secondary school, I loved inventing stories, and odd countries. In French literature class, the only genre that pulled me in was science-fiction. Problem was, it was not considered “Real Literature.” The teachers imposed works penned by old white men, often dead and elevated to “Classics.” The things I loved the most, the daring adventures in big ships and strange places, were spurned. So I cast away literature, and turned to drawing characters and places. Meanwhile, my love of sciences prodded me to study geography and, later, engineering (and not getting jobs). But I read about 200-300 pages a day of science-fiction and fantasy (yay for garage sales!). One day, I started a SF graphic novel that got so complicated I gave up drawing all the details and decided to write it, instead. (Hint: it was not easier.)
LSQ: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Michèle: In 1994, after publishing about ten graphic novels (largely ignored) and completing an Engineering master’s degree, I met writers from the Montréal science-fiction community. In 1996, after some soul-searching and much hair pulling, I asked myself what I wanted from life. To attain
scientific recognition and honor, without ever writing a word or drawing again, or to renounce an academic career but create stories that would endure in the hearts of people. I chose telling stories, pulling ideas from my science background. (I still finished the master’s degree.)
LSQ: What is your most favorite book of yours?
Michèle: My favorite series is about Chaas, an adolescent boy living in a society of space-faring super-gardeners, because of the world-building that spanned from a lovable and fallible character. Chaas sprouted at first as an adult in another of my space opera series, the Jules-Verne Saga novels. I wanted to explore his youth and the gardeners’ culture. The Gardeners universe has spawned five books, one novella, and a few graphic novels. Alas, the publisher has discarded the series, and I am trying to have it republished in French. The first English novel is in
Otherwise, I have “Ice Monarch,” a short story reprint at Echofictions, [which is] a prospective of climate science-fiction.
LSQ: What inspired you to write your Chaas series?
Michèle: My love of gardening and the will to find solutions to current problems. For instance, the first novel featured an ecological space lift. And my love of history, because the gardeners’ culture of meritocracy and the Honors Stairway are directly inspired by the ancient Roman civilization. Also, the sexual politics have a different flavor, because of a biological peculiarity that prevents young women from doing demanding exercise, but the musical and medical fields are theirs.
LSQ: Do you have a specific writing style?
Michèle: The strong, silent type. I don’t want people to notice my style, only to be drawn into the story. I derive pleasure in the telling, of course, but I am at the service of the story.
LSQ: Is there a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
Michèle: Each book may have a message deeply embedded in, but I am not conscious of it as I write. It’s not a vague prescription, like “be good.” I usually grasp the story’s direction after I finish it. In a garden, you don’t see the ground under the flowers, but the soil is where the work is done.
LSQ: What authors have influenced/inspired you?
Michèle: In my life, there is a before and an after Grass. I discovered Sheri Tepper, and her incredible world-engineering and tormented characters. Her book showed me what science-fiction could do. I also had the joy of meeting Ursula K. LeGuin in the flesh. Eventually I looked up to writers from Canada, such as Jean-Louis Trudel, Elisabeth Vonarburg…and from the
USA, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, who have had a tremendous impact on my productivity.
LSQ: Do you have advice for other writers?
Michèle: It seems everyone is a writing guru these days! I am not one, nor do I pay the platforms for promotion. (My sales did very well, until the platforms hid my books and tried to force me to pay to make them visible.)
No, I cannot tell others how they should write. Whatever way you publish, write what you love, try, experiment, have fun. And eventually, you’ll find your audience.
For instance, since meeting Dean [Wesley Smith] and Kris [Kathryn Rusch], I create more short stories and novels than ever without the false dilemma of “quality versus quantity”. (As a full and half-marathoner, I know running one kilometer per year would not prepare me well.)
Also, keep in mind that the literature landscape changes fast, faster than the current epidemic sweeps our convictions under the rug. Three of my award-winning novels have been orphaned by the demise of my publisher (the house folded last week). This is why I have my own house, Echofictions, for all the backlist and new, original stuff.
I will do my best to support other writers and will be an ardent reader and promoter of other writers.
Usually I finish my letters or posts with Be Well and Writing, which is what I wish for everyone.
LSQ: Where can people find your book(s)?
Michèle: At the website echofictions.com (my indie publisher platform) and michele-laframboise.com. On all platforms (the ‘Zon, Kobo, etc.), you can find me if you search for my full name, Michèle Laframboise, and here is my ‘Zon author page.
Thank you, and be W&W!
Michèle Laframboise’s books are available through her website, on Kobo and on Amazon, at a
reduced price in April and beyond, for the duration of the COVID-19 time of confinement.