Hélène Boudreau grew up on an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean but now writes fiction and non-fiction for kids from her land-locked home in Ontario, Canada. She has never time-travelled or saved an endangered bird, nor has she ever spotted a mermaid in the wild, but she believes mermaids are just as plausible as sea horses, flying fish, or electric eels. Her tween novel, Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings is a 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award Finalist.
Can you share a nugget of writing wisdom?
“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.”
― Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Is the glass half empty or half full?
It’s a self-filling glass which never drops below half full every time you take a drink.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Going to my youngest chicklet’s high school graduation and bawling my eyes out.
What is the worst possible name to call a child?
Something unpronounceable and French with lots of accents. *just kidding*
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
Keep writing through the yuckiness.
What is your writing process?
I write an outline with all the major plot points to get the basic structure of my story. Then I ‘fast draft’, aiming for 1,000-2,000 words a day. I try not to self-censor and keep moving forward as I write but I usually get 2/3rds of the way through, skip to the ending then revise from beginning to end and fill in the holes along the way. There are usually 4-5 major revisions after that with the help of critiques from trusted readers, my agent, and my editor.
How long does it take you to complete a novel?
I’m getting faster but it’s still quite an intense process for me. My latest book, REAL MERMAIDS DON’T NEED HIGH HEELS (book #3) took six months of 40-60 hr/weeks from the time I first put pixel to screen to the time I turned it into my editor. It’s still a 4-6 month process after that, which includes revision, copyediting, etc.
Who inspires you?
My kids. I eavesdrop on their conversations, sneak peeks at their notebooks and love to know what they’re reading. They crack me up every day.
Cats are so much more resourceful, so for the sake of survival (because I would want to be wild and free)—a cat.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Reality shows like The Bachelorette or The Bachelor. I’m a hopeless romantic.
Name one important characteristic you look for in a friend.
Integrity. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
What was your favorite age and why?
Forty-two is looking pretty good. I’m doing what I love, I have a great family, lots of friends, and my health. Plus, I get to wear flip-flops to work. Does it get any better than that?
What book(s) are you reading right now?
CITY OF EMBER (paperback) and BEAUTY QUEENS (audiobook).
What’s one of your favorite things to do when you have a night off?
Watching a romantic comedy with my hubby with a big bowl of popcorn.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate an accomplishment?
Eating. I love food!
If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?
Nothing that involves heights! I would probably be most useful at the ticket booth.
If you could be a professional at any sport, what would it be?
Archery. I used to be pretty good at it. Top girl in middle school!
Who would you like to play your life story in a movie?
Drew Barrymore because I love her sense of humor but they’d have to get a pretty good makeup artist to scruff her up enough.
What scares you the most?
Heights! More specifically, falling from great heights. Even more specifically, watching someone I love fall from great heights. Gah! I break into a cold sweat just thinking about it.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
Something low to the ground. A shrub?
Enter to win a free copy of REAL MERMAIDS DON’T HOLD THEIR BREATH.
Entering is easy as kelp. Simply post a word associated with ocean (dolphin, seaweed) on this post or on my Facebook.
One random winner will be selected tomorrow at 10:00 PM.
*For mailing purposes, you must be from the U.S. or Canada.