Today’s post is an interview with Natacha Guyot, whose forthcoming fictional collection The Clairvoyance Chronicles Volume 1 will be released on November 9. Natacha is a French author, scholar, and public speaker. She has been a contributor at the Monster since May of this year and has hosted feminist Friday discussions at her blog. So when she started going on book tour for her most recent publication, I jumped at the chance to interview her:
I’m really happy that you’re here, and glad to be talking about Clairvoyance Chronicles on Monster Monday. Can you tell us a little bit more about The Clairvoyance Chronicles?
Thank you for inviting me! It is always a pleasure to visit PTM. Clairvoyance Chronicles focus on a dangerous disruption of the peace that has been taking place in the supernatural community for many years. An old enemy emerges and his personal vendetta against a member of the Were Council takes great proportions when others realize that other events occurring are all linked to him. Losses and threats force characters from multiple species and locations to deal with what is at stake.
Besides the main storyline, we also watch characters deal with smaller scale difficulties, though these aren’t any less challenging. Old and new alliances have to be (re)forged and everyone’s agendas don’t always blend well.
Now this is The Clairvoyance Chronicles Volume 1, and “volume 1” usually means there are more in the works! How many books to you envision in this series, and how long will we have to wait for another one?
You are right to expect more books in this series. There will definitely be at least 3, possibly 4. I am not 100% certain at this point. I feel it that it will be at least a trilogy, but I am not set on this. I think that the universe is so vast that even once I resolve the main storyline (which at the moment, I am still unsure how to win with my villain with how crafty and dangerous he is), there will be room for several stories to happen, possibly at different points in the timeline. I enjoy the richness of the history and the characters and am set on telling a good number of characters’ stories.
I haven’t started writing the second volume yet, but am plotting it. I hope for a late 2016 or early 2017 release if all falls into place.
I’m interested in what people think makes a monster, and there are quite a few women in your stories who fit the bill of being “monstrous.” What do you think makes a character monstrous, and how does that fit into The Clairvoyance Chronicles?
I loved the idea of exploring how several characters, regardless of their species, could feel monstrous to a degree. To me they are monstrous because they don’t fit in, either in others’ perspective, or in their own. They defy the norms but it is important to note that being monstrous doesn’t necessarily mean they are villains or negative characters.
Some that could be considered monsters in an evil way don’t perceive themselves as such and considers the others the actual monsters. Others who are very caring characters think they are monsters because of who they are or what they have become.
The multiple species and how the supernatural beings have a difficult history make for some compelling tensions. Even in times of peace like when the story opens, not all clans or groups have the same vision of morality or agendas.
With characters having different lifespans, it also makes the progression and conception of monsters evolve with time and experience.
There is also number of super-natural characters with super-abilities. Would you tell us a bit about how you create these characters and envision their abilities?
The first thing I remember about creating this universe is that I didn’t want any vampire in the story. I have nothing against vampires but I didn’t want to have the usual Werewolves/Vampires dynamic. Since then, I have decided to write a Vampire story, but this would be a whole other discussion. I can tell you that there is an explanation in Clairvoyance why vampires don’t exist but humans believe them to.
There are the following species in the universe: Weres of all kinds (Wolves, Bears, Cougars…), Fae (“Light” ones and Renegades), Shifters (who are born with the capacity to change into animals contrary to Weres who get transformed by being bitten and can only ever change into the same animal as their seer), humans, humans with special gifts (like clairvoyance or other mental abilities) and Anomalies which can’t be placed in any other species.
Playing with the questions of genetics, abilities, life spans was challenging but so inspiring.
What about naming? The names in your story are very unique–do you have a particular source that you go to, or a way you decide on naming your characters?
Thank you! Names are often early elements I have about characters, regardless of the project or universe. I think that Clairvoyance is the first time I had to do more research on names, because it is anchored in our world. Several names came to me right away (like Neyla and Keno for example) but others I made sure to research for names that were significant given the characters’ origins. In a way, most of the geography was easier for me, like the London area scenes, than making sure some names made sense.
The Clairvoyance Chronicles covers a pretty wide swath of characters, settings, and plots. Would you talk a bit about the kind of challenges you faced in putting this story on the page?
I first started imagining this world a few years ago and it was supposed to be a novel centered on Tania, who narrates the 8th story of the collection. I had several of the characters appearing in Clairvoyance (that didn’t have the “Chronicles” part in its title yet) already included.
When I picked up the project again, I had a string of new characters appearing, emerging from all the world building, and the main villain, leading arc appeared from that. I realized that I had too many points of view and that I wanted to tell several stories. That was how I realized that connected short stories with different narrators would be my best idea to keep things flowing and yet have all these voices.
The different voices help give perspective on several aspects of the Supernatural culture as well as how they relate, or not, to humans, how everything has evolved over history. It is challenging to keep track of everything but it has helped me to give more depth to most of the characters.
If you were going to try to adapt The Clairvoyance Chronicles for the screen, would you want to do it yourself, or would you want someone else to take the reins? What do you feel would be most important in a screen-version?
I have an educational background in media production but I wouldn’t want to take the reins on such a project. What would be best for me is being a creative consultant so I could keep track and be involved but without having to do everything myself.
The most important would be to stay true to the characters. I can understand altering storylines when adapting, but betraying characters’ identities would be utterly wrong.
On a side note, I do have my dream cast for all characters appearing in the collection, and would love to see them take the roles, especially since I think all are within age range!
What advice would you give other writers about writing female supernaturals?
Please avoid making female supernaturals into devils or temptress or whatever cliché box you want to stick them into. Female supernaturals can be devils, temptresses, whatever you want on the specter from good to bad and back, but having layered characters is primordial. You could have a female Were Wolf be a happy stay-at-home mother just like you could have a serial killer female Fae, and everything in between, or even a character who has a double or triple life, but giving depth to the character is what matters most to me. And this applies to any female supernatural.
Who are you reading right now?
I have started a Star Wars novel (Annihilation by Drw Karpyshyn) a few months back, but have not read as much as I expected. I enjoy the book, but I have been doing so much editing and writing that I have mostly stuck to shorter and technical reads. Over the past year, I have made sure to educate myself more on writing craft and indie publishing. My Amazon Wish List is still quite lengthy!
What will you be doing next as a writer, and where can readers follow your work?
At this point, I have five upcoming titles that will come out between 2016 and 2017. Two are Science Fiction novellas and the rest is nonfiction. Most of them are at various editing stages. I am working on the introduction of the free eBook that will come out on Women’s International Day next March at the moment. It will be a compilation of the #SciFi Women Interviews I host on my blog every month. I also have at least two or three novellas I want to work on next.
You can find more about my writing projects on my blog, or via my other social media. If you have a question about my writing, don’t hesitate to contact me either. I use the Digital Quill Answers feature to get back to readers for such things, and am always glad to interact with them.