His first stab at writing was in 1995, the result being his first novel, Vigilante. This was subsequently followed by The Consultant (1996), Mind Games (1997) and The Homeless Killer (2009), all part of the Barry/McCall Series born fromVigilante. He has recently completed his fifth novel, ASYLUM (June 2010) which is not included in the series.
When Claude isn’t writing or editing his work, he spends his time making noise with his guitars, painting in oil and watercolour, reading, traveling (budget permitting) and planning to work out.
Claude is proud to be represented by Tribe Literary Agency.
Tell us about Vigilante in a few sentences.
Vigilante is about a serial killer in Montreal who has taken it upon himself to rid the city of violent criminals who have not paid their dues to society and the ongoing investigation by the police to apprehend him.
What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?
First of all, you do need to know how to write. With the advent of online self-publishing, too many people call themselves writers today and put out books with horrendous grammar, spelling mistakes, improper sentence and paragraph structure, not to mention storylines that don’t hold up. You also need to be imaginative, willing to adequately research and be open to criticism.
What is your working method?
I generally come up with an idea, knowing where a story starts and ends and write until I’ve connected the two points. I’ve never mapped out a story before writing it. I let it happen as I go along, sort of like life happens.
What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing?
The single biggest mistake made by beginner writers is probably their belief that a work is complete when it’s actually still a draft. Proper editing and opinions from others are key to getting one’s writing to a truly finished product.
How did you come to write this particular book?
An idea simply began forming and growing for a while after which I felt compelled to record it so I started typing. Roughly eight weeks later, I had completed the first draft of Vigilante.
If you have a favourite character in your novel, why that particular one?
The main characters in Vigilante are Chris Barry, a business executive and Lieutenant Dave McCall, the head cop tracking the killer. I guess I could say that they are my favourite characters as they think like I do.
How can people buy your books?
I’ve written four novels in the Barry/McCall crime-thriller series to date which are available online from various suppliers including Amazon for print versions and Smashwords for various E-Book formats. Other affiliated distributors are Apple, Sony, Kobo and Barnes & Noble, to name a few. The main links are all on my website at http://bigceebee.webs.com/mybooks.htm.
To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?
As I mentioned earlier, proper grammar and spelling are a must, at least in the finished work. If a writer somewhat lacks in grammatical skills, it is imperative that assistance be sought for appropriate editing and corrections. Readers shouldn’t be expected to buy sub-standard books any more than other consumers would be expected to buy other sub-standard products.
How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?
That can vary from MS to MS but definitely several times. I general do some revision and editing as I’m going along, going back every twenty pages or so. My spouse, Joanne, usually reads the MS as it becomes available and provides feedback as required. Once the MS is complete, we both completely review it for grammatical errors, typos, wrong words, etc. My sister, Lucie, has also participated in the process, usually once Joanne and I were done and invariably found little things that we had missed. Then, it goes to my editor and agent for judgment.
Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?
Vigilante and the other three novels currently in the series are set in the Montreal area which I where I’ve lived most of my life. Like many authors, I write about things that I know and Montreal is part of that knowledge in addition to being a wonderful city. I wrote the first three, one per year in 1995-97 so they were set in around that time period. Last year, I wrote the fourth and set it ten years later to keep up with the times. I’m currently working on number 5 which takes place in 2010.
To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
As with many things, different people have different tastes in literature. Genre groups books of similar subject matter together, as much for agents and publishers who might specialize in specific areas as for readers who are attracted to certain types of books.
What are your writing habits?
I write something every day. If I’m working on a project, that’s where the efforts go. Otherwise, it can be a short story, Simple Musings which are humorous thoughts which I post on my website along with those of Australian author, Luke Romyn, responses to interviews such as this one and occasional articles as a guest blogger. I generally have a pad of paper and pen within reach just in case something needs to be jotted down.
How do you know where to begin any given story?
That’s easy; at the beginning. Seriously, that’s part of the process which takes place when I get an idea for a project. Thoughts occur, some consciously and others less so and when it’s time to write, I just start writing. I often don’t really know where it comes from.
What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing?
My background and previous career was in human resources management and I do take on an occasional consulting mandate but I generally can dedicate my time to my writing and promotion activities.
Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?
I have full moral support from my family and friends and, as mentioned previously, my spouse is my first proof-reader/copy-editor/critic and my sister pitches in on occasion.
Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?
Absolutely. Agents and publishers don’t specify submission guidelines just to be annoying to writers. These specifications are aimed at streamlining their workloads as efficiently as possible. When MSs as well as queries are submitted according to requested guidelines, agents and publishers will give them the attention they deserve. Mind you, this doesn’t mean an automatic deal or representation.
How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
It varies, depending on the amount of research that I need to do but I’d say about three months on average for a completed first draft.
What are your inspirations?
I don’t find that I’m inspired by anything specific. When I think of a story idea, I’m inspired and that’s when the writing starts to flow.
If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?
That would probably be researching to find that little detail that makes or breaks a scene and not finding the answer or confirmation that I’m looking for.
Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
I think that it’s a combination of both. There are skills that are learned such as grammar itself with sentence and paragraph structures as well as spelling. Then there is the ability to use one’s imagination and come up with the storyline that works and then paint it with words so that others can share it.
What are you writing now?
I’m currently working on the fifth in my Barry/McCall series, tentatively entitled 6 Hours, 42 Minutes and have a draft of ASYLUM, which is not part of the series simmering on the back-burner as it waits for some revision and expansion.
Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?
I love all aspects of writing from the initial idea for a novel through the research and creating of the characters and story to the editing after the fact.
Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?
People can visit my website at http://bigceebee.webs.com/ and have a look around, not just at the books but all the pages. I have artwork, short stories, some reviews and interviews, Simple Musings mentioned earlier and more. I do love visitors.
Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?
I have visions of a comfortable, open-walled, covered porch on a beach in perhaps Hawaii or some other similar tropical paradise.
Where do you actually write?
I actually write in our comfortable computer room on the second floor of our home which is not on a beach or anywhere near a tropical paradise.