Marie-Claude Bourque, winner of the American Title V contest, spent six months of her life vying for the ultimate prize of publication. Her debut novel, Ancient Whispers, will be published by Dorchester in June.
Marie-Claude writes dark paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Having been raised with ancient French songs and legendary tales, the fate of tragic lovers of old and a keen interest in Celtic mythology inspire her stories.
Seattle, Washington is home for Marie-Claude, where she lives with her Scottish husband and two school-aged sons. Although she juggles writing and motherhood these days, Marie-Claude is a former oceanographer with a B.S. in physics and a Ph.D. in oceanography as well as a fitness professional who’s been a trainer and health club director. Born in Montréal and raised French-Canadian, she didn’t learn English until she was in college. When she’s not busy working on her next story, Marie-Claude enjoys knitting, reading, and exercising.
I interviewed Marie-Claude in November 2008 when the Title V competition had been narrowed to eight finalists. Much has changed for her since then. Join me as we learn more about Marie-Claude and her interesting journey to publication.
Marie-Claude, when you learned that you’d won the American Title V contest, I was one of those who joined in your happy dance. Congratulations again on your wonderful accomplishment and that First Sale.
•Please give us a summary of what has taken place since you were my guest in November 2008. Be sure to tell us about the day you learned that you’d won and that Ancient Whispers would be published.
Thank you so much for your congratulations, Keli. It’s been wonderful to have you as my supporter. It’s been quite a ride.
On the morning when I knew the winner would be announced to the competitors in the form of an email to us all, I went for my usual 1 hour walk. I would walk every morning like that during the contest to keep my stress level down. I was very calm that morning and felt that I could deal with any answer, good or bad. I knew it was out of my control and that I had done all I could.
I came home, fired up my computer, and there it was, the email announcing the winner. To be honest, it is all a bit of blur now, but I do remember calling my mom, and I remember the smile my children gave me when I picked them from school. That is my most vivid memory, their smiles when I told them I won.
Two days after the win, I got an email from my editor, Leah Hultenschmidt, to tell me I would have to sign the contract with Dorchester soon and that they would show me my cover at the RT Booklovers 2009 convention. I scrambled to plan my trip to Orlando and to try to find an agent. That was very stressful. In the end, an agent looked over the contract with me on her own time, and I signed it.
I went to RT 2009 in Orlando. I met with the Dorchester team, and they made me feel very special. That was a very surreal time. I got to thank everyone at the RT award ceremony, and they unveiled my cover in front of a huge crowd. I remember the big “oooh” that echoed in the room when Leah took the cloth off the giant cardboard cover. That’s how much everyone (and myself) loved that cover. Then I got to sit beside Helen Scott Taylor (the prior year’s winner) during the book fair and handed out teaser samplers that Dorchester had made for me. It was a lot of fun.
I came home and practically collapsed for 6 months. I was really burnt out. I had been warned by the other AT winners that this would happen, but I hadn’t been prepared. Besides taking care of my boys, all I did was read and knitting.
Then in the fall, I had to attack the revisions for Ancient Whispers. There were many. I worked very hard, and it paid off because Leah was really pleased with how the book turned out. It was pretty much all done about six months ago, and I spent the last few months writing the sequel, starting another writing project and getting ready for the release.
•I’ve heard a writer’s plate becomes quite full as she embarks on her new career as a published author. Please share with us what’s going on now, what you’ve been learning, and what you’ve done to in preparation for your imminent release.
The American Title did prepare me a little bit for the promotion aspect of things, but it is still a big learning curve. This time, I have been trying to court booksellers by sending out samplers and cover flats of my book and also talking to book reviewers who may want to read it. And I have had to think of the promotional items I wanted to have made, taking ads in magazines and also creating a marketing plan to make sure it all gets done and see how much it all costs.
On top of that, there is the anxiety associated with how the book will be received and also whether the next books will also sell. On the plus side, I have found a lot of support as a new author, both with Dorchester staff and their authors and also other published authors who have helped me a lot with their input on a variety of topics from how to do signings, get the best deal on bookmark printing and make time to write.
If we think there is a lot of support among aspiring authors, I can assure you that the same is true with other published authors. You are not alone when you start; there are plenty of generous people ready to teach you the ropes.
•Since you’ve gone through the initial euphoria of getting a contract offer and the resulting return to reality that inevitably follows, what advice would you offer others who have yet to receive The Call about how to prepare themselves for life as a published author?
Learn how to protect your writing time. Find the balance right now with all the other things you do, including being online and blogging, to make sure the writing gets done. That is a huge problem with me. I either promote or write, and I struggle to find that balance. It is even harder when you get published because there is so much more promotion and last minute things like galley proofs that need to be checked within a few days and revisions that needs to be made. In the end, it is the writing that prevails. If it is all you do and you do it consistently, you will be better prepared once you are published.
•Please tell us about Ancient Whispers.
Gabriel is the youngest member of the Priory of Callan—an ancient Celtic brotherhood of cursed sorcerers and alchemists, each with deadly abilities and each haunted by a tragic past. Tortured by the devastating loss of his fiancée in 1755, Gabriel wants nothing more than to reunite with his soul mate.
Two and a half centuries later, Gabriel is still searching for his love. And then he finds Lily Bellefontaine. Cool-headed and practical, she has no memory of Gabriel. But she also can’t deny the pull of attraction drawing her under his seductive spell, urging her to give in to the… Ancient Whispers.
Questions for Marie-Claude
Marie-Claude, it’s been great to have you back at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your wonderful news with us.
And now, I invite your visitors to squee with you and to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel, and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited contract offer.
Marie-Claude has generously offered to give away an autographed copy of her debut novel, Ancient Whispers.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Marie-Claude by midnight May 30 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)
On May 31, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name in a comment. I’ll add it here as well and contact the winner for a mailing address, which I will share with Marie-Claude, and she’ll send the book.
Congratulations to the winner of the drawing, Heather Sunseri!
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Learn More About Marie-Claude
Visit her website ~ www.mcbourque.com
Visit her personal blog ~ www.mcbourque.com/blog
Friend Her on Facebook ~ Marie-Claude Bourque
Follow her on Twitter ~ mcbourque