For this month feature, I am glad to welcome Marie Bilodeau. I found out about her and her work via Twitter several months ago.
Marie Bilodeau is an Ottawa-based science-fiction and fantasy author, with a bunch of novels and short stories to her name, and some awards to go with them (shiny awards).
The native Montrealer is a professional performing storyteller. Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion and Culture with a minor in Archaeology from Wilfrid Laurier University, Marie mostly tells adaptations of fairy tales and myths, as well as original stories of her own creation.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
BILODEAU: I discovered science fiction watching Star Trek from my hiding spot under the dining room table (we weren’t allowed to watch it – it was too, um, I’m not sure too what). I’d say that I really really discovered science fiction in grade 9. I’m French Canadian and didn’t really speak English at the beginning of high school, but English classes were a requisite to graduate from high school. We had to do three book reports, and my teacher told me to ignore the list of classics and pick three books that I wanted to read. My brother handed me a fantasy trilogy, and I devoured it as quickly as a French Canadian kid can devour their first English books, never stopping to check any word in the dictionary. I didn’t know what a dagger was, but man did I ever want one.
NG: How did you start writing in this genre?
BILODEAU: I never even considered another genre. This is what I read and loved, and just dove in to these stories. I started writing seriously after university, when I realized that, if I was going to be a writer, I should actually put words down on the page.
NG: Which Science Fiction authors have been most inspiring to you?
BILODEAU: I’m a huge fan of pulp writers like Robert E. Howard for multiple reasons. I love how prolific they are, and how their characters captured the imaginations of so many readers. I want to be one of those writers with such a long backlist that it takes a long time to get them all, like Terry Brooks, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ed Greenwood.
NG: What do you think of Science Fiction’s versatility and its ties to other genres such as Fantasy and Folk Tales?
BILODEAU: Science fiction follows many of the same story beats as fantasy and folk tales, it just does it in a science-based setting, to varying degrees. You have hard science-fiction, where the magic is science, the creatures and demons are usually ignorance (or ignorance-driven characters), and the reward is solving an enigma or having it solved through some scientific principle or theory. You have some “softer science fiction,” like space opera, which doesn’t rely on science as much but relies on scientific “real world” ideas without making the thrust of the story about them. No matter which end of the science fiction spectrum, the bones are similar to fantasy and folk tales, the beats practically the same, but the focus is on the cool science and/or concepts of the setting.
NG: Do you think Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women creators and female characters?
BILODEAU: It’s definitely heading that way, but there’s much more work to be done for the genre to be welcoming of female creators and characters. Women are stepping up to the plate, holding their own and claiming space. The more women do that, the more it’ll change.
NG: What are some recurring themes and patterns in your writing?
BILODEAU: I hadn’t noticed until it was pointed out to me, but home comes up a lot. Finding a home, whether physical or emotional, is a recurring theme. Whether it’s due to growing up in a culture that fears losing itself, or moving many, many times as a child, that’s for psychologists to figure out. But it’s definitely a recurring theme.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your Storytelling?
BILODEAU: I tell a few science fiction stories, from space journeys to scientific discoveries, and also stories of discovery that mimic some of the emotional journey of science fiction. In romance, many beats rely on finding your true love. In science fiction, many beats are about discovering your surrounding OR your true self (or both), and those are beats I use a lot in my storytelling.
NG: Has your Podcasting experience influenced your views on Science Fiction?
BILODEAU: The recently defunct Planet X Podcast reviewed many science fiction storylines. My cohorts, Jay Odjick and Ken Bonnie, gave some fascinating reviews on science fiction shows and comics, and always brought it back to how the spirit and the mind intertwined. Whereas I’d traditionally viewed science fiction as mostly a discovery of one’s surroundings, I started to view it as mostly a journey of self-discovery and reflection.
NG: How important are conventions in the Science Fiction community?
BILODEAU: Science fiction is often about ideas, and conventions are an awesome place to share and develop ideas. I find them very important in most fan communities, and science fiction is no different. Finding people of like mind can be an exhilarating and fulfilling (and sometimes annoying) experience. If you’ve been to conventions you probably know what I mean. If not, go check one out and find out!
NG: What advice would you have for an aspiring Science Fiction writer?
BILODEAU: Stick to the rules of your world. The more you try to explain, the more you highlight the cracks in your own logic. Trust that your readers can follow. Make sure that any strong story concept is supported by great characters and an awesome intrigue.
NG: Thank you very much for being with us today, Marie! My readers will be happy to learn more about your work and many stories.