Tag Archives: Science-fiction

Coming out soon, the next Chaaas novel

My next SF novel, La spirale de Lar Jubal, will be out in one month. (It will be printed in January to hit the book shops on February, just before the Outaouais Book Fair ( www.slo.qc.ca ).

Cover illustration of Chaaas 4 by Sybiline

On Lapsilis, a cylindrical habitat orbiting a devastated planet, young and old work hard to build a spiraling grain crop for their future world. If questor Sirius approves of this zeal which reduces the crime to almost nothing, Chaaas notices many people burning themselves out.

Then a strange disease is decimating harvests. Who would benefit from destroying the dream of Lar Jubal, the brilliant visionary lost too soon?
Lar Corom, a charismatic artist, tipped to succeed the debonair Ludrinn as the colony leader? Noalli, the embittered wife of Corom, overlooking the floating garden ? Ruffan, a fierce supporter of a return to the original purity of the Gardener’s  creation ? Or Lar Eimer, a haughty scientific  who doubts the merits of the project?

Chaaas must investigate without being distracted by the amber eyes of Lali kha Nakarli … and his warming friendship towards Corom. With the help of Kiumi, a girl acrobat, Chaaas will discover secrets that endanger more than the dream of Lar Jubal…

The novel is in French, and as it is coming soon.  If you can read a little French, the book will be available from  www.Prologue.ca or www.Amazon.ca websites. If you have read and liked the other novels of the Chaaas series, you may let it know, either by typing a review or rate it on Goodreads.com. If you hated it: do the same thing. There is no bad publicity… :^)

The full coordinates of the novel:

Michèle Laframboise, La spirale de Lar Jubal, Médiaspaul, (coll. Jeunesse-Plus no 16), 208 p.
ISBN 978-89420-852-6.

The cover art is from artist Sybiline.  For once, you get to see the protagonist close, and Chaaas is quite handsome!



Chasing your wild ideas!

The science fiction author attempting to control the wild ideas for a novel!

There comes a point in writing where we feel that the story, the players and the universe that hold them have gained enough consistency to secure them in a tangible form. The ethereal cloud of infinite possibilities must now be condensed, into a brick (but not a too thick one!) Of course, there will always remain a small cloud of regret…

How to take this step without too much pain?

As I explained in another post, I do not have a rigid plan. I rather draw a grocery list. Here is one of the subplots in a novel work.  (It does not give the big punches, and if you can’t read French, my secret is safe, bwa-haha!)

Liste d'épicerie des intrigues secondaires d'un roman (elle s'allonge pendant la rédaction...)

I draw clouds of relationships between characters, and do the research to comfortably establish my imaginary world.

Nuages de relations pour le deuxième roman de la série Chaaas

An imaginary world well designed, whether in science fiction or in fantasy, do not only allows the author to return to it, but fans can also seize it (it happened with the universe Darkover by Marion Zimmer Bradley).

CAVEAT: Research is good, but … to some extent!

Trop de recherche nuit à la rédaction!

This is me writing a science fiction novel! Alas, too much “let’s google this, check up that” in the middle of writing the first draft of a manuscript will cut your swing, slow or even paralyze you. Oh, I wanted to read this post by Cory Doctorov sooner!

When you’ve worked and thought and lived with our stories behind the head, the characters grow and eventually become almost friends to the writer.

After the throes of planning is a very pleasant step in creating a novel. In my case, I enjoy doing lots of sketches that show a little life characters “outside” the scope of the novels. Here, I sketched a family scene from the world of Chaaas.

Le Bassin - croquis (et non, cette scène n'est pas décrite dans un de mes romans!)

The downside is that it might push the story in all  directions. And as it happens while I am writing, the manuscript gets longer! We must rein in those ideas, and jot down the wildest ones to recycle them for another story!

As the publishers have a specific format in mind for their books, there is usually a limit of pages to follow. We must strive to keep one or two main plot lines and give up many ideas and developments full of promises … with no guarantee that all the children of our imagination will emerge elsewhere!

Trimming down the manuscript can be tearful...

Random pics from the last Spec Fic colloquium

The format of the Toronto Spec Fic colloquium, (one day, one track of presentations, then one evening of readings) was perfect for my busy schedule. The setting was very Gothic, at the Hart House, in the center of Toronto.

Inner Court of the Hart house

There, I finally met Peter Watts. I read his fiction via Nimbus, a story he published in a Solaris (issue 143), then later came in contact with his online fiction, which prompted me to buy the books!

Sunday artist with Peter Watts

The Sunday artist meets Peter Watts.
Nooo, don’t look below!


I used a prop for the photo, but reaching his level of SF writing will take a lot more time and efforts! Peter Watts is a specialist in marine biology, and is not afraid to consult and do extensive research for his novels. And he is also a proud squid overlord! (The squid term now refer to us SF writers, from a rather disparaging comment made about Science Fiction by Margaret Atwood. And I was in the room in 2003 when she uttered a similar comment!)

Julie Czerneda and Michele

Julie Czerneda, another Science-fiction writer who does not forget the science in Science-fiction. We look so nice from my arm’s length (and it did not need  climbing on a chair) !  I came back from the Spec Fic with her cool Trade Pact Universe trilogy.

Tony Burgess and Brett Savory at the Chizine table

Tony Burgess (He gave an ominous talk about raising young children while writing horrible things. We were treated to his recent horror novel trailer ) and to the right, Brett Savory, at the Chizine table. I also met David Nickle, whose dark fiction I discovered this year.

Karl Schroeder, Brett Savory and friends

Karl Schroeder with Brett Savory and friends.

Claude Lalumière gave a challenging speech, on when too much researching and science conformity can deter the creative sparks. Ahem. I myself tend to sink in the research for my SF novels… so as a budding writer, I was sensible to the arguments. But, as a former mad scientist, I like my science to be as up to date as possible in my novels

I bought his Object of Worship collection, and discovered a new and rich voice in the weird and fantastic. (More on my Goodread thread later!)


I took a few hours to walk at the Tightrope books office to assist to a very useful workshop on writing for children (and young adults), given by Marina Cohen. Her last novel, Ghost ride, is on the shortlist for the Red Maple Award given by the Ontario Library Association. She gave us tips on the craft, and also the business aspects of writing for a younger audience.

Tightrope Books office

Then, I walked back to the Hart House, on this fine autumn afternoon.

Election Boards

Or did I mention “on this fine municipal election day”?


A nice mural on the way.

Weeping willow

A weeping willow…

cats in their vantage  look out

And cute cats in a window, yaay!! Spying on the passer-by…

The nice hostel where I took the dozen or books from the Spec Fic for the night (as the event lasted until around midnight)! I began reading Maelstrom, by Peter Watts, then Object of Worship.

Pembroke Hostel

One hour at the signing table

Here is the photographic adaptation of the comics in the previous post, by an enthusiastic fan.

The one hour signing session at  a literature event

Réalisation by Christ Oliver, with Jean-Louis Trudel, a fellow science fiction author.

Now we are hoping for the movie adaptation.  It would not be a big-budget feature, but it would certainly echo with the many writers almost drowning in a sea of publications traveled by big corporate ships chasing the elusive best-sellers…

A tribute to all of you, artists able to create without the pressure of success!

Splendors and miseries of the signing table

Another bookfair is coming at Montreal! And, if you are a lesser-known author, you might experiment this:

One hour at the signing table.

One hour at the round signing table

I drew this page after some signing sessions for my novel Piège pour le Jules-Verne, my table close to the Harry Potter stand.

Jean-Louis Trudel, my fellow SF writer, had accepted to figure in the comic, and even contributed to the scenario.

This page was originally published in a fanzine, (MensuHell) and found an echo with many friends and comic creators, among them, Christ Oliver , who did a piece on it (coming on my next post).

My profound sympathies to the all writers who will experiment that desertic bookfair at the Salon du livre de Montréal , very well frequented. When there are more than 800 writers vying for the public’s attention, it is bound to happen…

Meet my fans: the paranoid fan!

Another close encounter at a bookfair…

The pananoidal fan

It really happened to another science fiction writer. I took some liberties towards the obvious flying saucer conspiracy theory…

It is more difficult to manage than the Zombie fan, or the angry fan (to come) because you want to stay polite, but the obvious awkwardness of the paranoid fan pushes other visitors away from your signing table!

And yes, there is a direct X-Files influence on that one! I loved the series despite the dark angle, for reasons too numerous to cite here. The humor, among them.

24-24 in Streetsville

Here are some pics of this global event, 24 hours of continuous creation at the Image Collection Comic Shop in Streetsville, October 2-3 . We started at noon this year. It took us an hour to decide what to draw, so it was around 1:30 that we got started!

An idea of the atmosphere at 9:30 PM.

Left, Daniel Oshino, our hero of last year, made a visit with her small daughter, hopefully as talented as him! Behind at the right, our fourth member and the only guy of 24-24 this year, Mike, 14.

The themes this year, (at least one):

– Conflict, internal or external

– Growth of an idea

– I do not remember the other themes!

I took the characters who were in the Japanese Brush, and developed a science fiction adventure. I planned eight pages before plunging into the production.

Also, we had friends visiting, to chat and draw!

at 9h30 PM

We tease, at 9h30. The two guys are visiting; the left one guy has passed the first 24-24 complete (he inked his 24 pages) three years ago. We see Todd, the manager of the shop, back with long hair, he has grown a beard since last year.

Kim started strong, deciding that she would produce more written pages, a bold approach. She left around 11 am. Mike and Tiff, being minors, are returning home to sleep around 11:30, planning to return in the morning. This means that I had sometime alone in the night with my drawings. It helped me because the drawing is not fast when we gossip!

This time we worked on a smaller paper format, like manga, so this helped!


A page very red by Tiffany

Tiff’s work: here is an artist to watch for! She was just 15 years, and she looks inspired by Tim Burton in its atmosphere. Her full story covers eight to ten pages. Mike produced a funny story of zombies, with 4 small panels per page, which allowed him to complete his 24 pages and even put some red on it.

Me, I let go of the color, those who know me know why! I was a little stressed around 4:00 AM because I  suddenly realized I had a chance to finish my ink, but only if I worked non stop!

Last Minute ditch

Page Last MinuteAt 11:40 AM, I finished my blanket, when, at 15 minutes remaining, Daniel, who came back to haunt us, told me about an unfinished page!

Needless to say I worked harder to finish on time!

3 Authors with their Comics

The three authors (Kim is not back yet) pose with their pages! Besides me, Mike and Tiff  rose to the challenge!

My 24h comic book!

My 24-page new comic, inked!

My inking is not perfect, but it surpasses what I did last year. A new adventure of the Otaku Ladies!

The secret well of ideas

The secret well of ideas !If there is one question that every published author hears at other events, it is this one : But where do you get all those ideas ?

Secret well of ideasMany people who dream of becoming a (famous) writer are scratching their head to find this mysterious well of ideas. Most are under the impression that writers form a tight circle around a secret lair of the golden-egg-laying hen. The secret well of inspiration, teeming with ideas!

This belief joins another one : all writers signing at the events are filthy rich!  Or if they are not, it must be because they don’t have access to a good well.

This in nonsense, as chance and fashion are the capricious ingredients that make or unmake successes. Also, many are convinced that once this idea has been fished out of the well, the main work is done, the book will write itself! Hence this ubiquitous anguished question : will someone steal my idea?

Relax, it is rather the opposite. Ideas are like dandelion seeds, easy to blow : pfffffuit!

Chaaas blowing dandelion seeds

They are blown in the sky half-formed, and many budding writers try to capture them with  clumsy fingers ! When they manage to catch one, they notice that there is still a long way  between the seed and the grown tree, between the idea and the completed book!

About ideas, the following scene happens often at a signing table (preferably when the writer is alone). A fan walks by, telling of his wonderful idea for a novel, an idea so genial that the writer should leave all his current projects to do the hard work on it! It happens especially with the SF writers…

An idea may be a very small seed at the beginning, so we must not try to pull from it a completed 600-page spy novel !

Imagine if the writers worked like that!

(Who is this author?)

Les Nuages de Phoenix (The Clouds of Phoenix) was my first SF novel aimed at YA. The novel idea took a long time to grow.

It began with a simple mental picture, a girl looking at the clouds. One of my favorites activities when I was a child. I happened to like meteorology (and I later followed climatology courses when studying Geography). The place took form, Phoenix is another planet with a green sky. Why green? Ah, enter the airborne particles size, and many other explorations.

In that special environment, I found out that the little girl, Blanche,  was handicapped, a consequence of a grave accident, and she wears an exosqueleton that gives her legs the capability of running at 80 km/h (a fun fact when I mention it in classrooms). New characters appear : Blanche has a family: an big sister in love , a father worrying about the oxygen production plant, etc.  Those characters grow and eventually become like friends of the writer. This is a very nice step in the creative process, and I will come back to it in a future blog entry.

Cover of Les nuages de Phoenix

The clouds of Phœnix‘s seed idea took about one year to grow discreetly, before I was ready to write the full-length manuscript. Afterwards, there has been the long rewriting and edition process under my editor’s eye. All in all, the novel took almost two years (working on it part-time) between the seed and the finished work.

I wrote about the challenge of growing a story in my French blog. A story begins as a tiny seed, which we put in soil and water, leaving it for a time. But the idea grows in silence. And nothing prohibits us to have more than one idea growing! Certain will get ripe earlier than the others.

So, our inspiration tree must be fed, in three ways. We draw first from our own life experience, that help to get empathy with what our characters are living through. Then by our readings, any kind of reading: for researching our subject, for fun, for exploring different genres and ways of storytelling.. and last but not least, our imagination, always creating bridges.

The inspiration Tree

Many of those links may be absurd, but some will prove fecund.

A writer cannot get into an ivory tower and tell himself that his fertile imagination will be enough. Our plant needs watering, fertilizer, care: the three inspiration sources interact between themselves. And when the story gets too profuse, the care will later include pruning

(to be continued…)

Two new publications

Two new publications will be out for my birthday (July 14th) .  First, my Award-winning SF short-story  “Monarque des glaces” has been published in Solaris 175. The story depicts a dystopia set in an Earth reeling from a series of drastic climate and ecological changes.

The flower photo refers to Marguerite Andersen, the courageous editor of  the literary magazine Virages.  She does all the clerical work, despite the  recent cuts.

Marguerite is also the author of le figuier sur le toit , a precious personal account of life in Germany, in the pre-Nazi years. Germans were not a monolithic bloc, there were a diversity of opinions and political parties… until the elections of Hitler in 1933.

All this to proudly announce that another of my stories, “Château de neige”, will be published in the next Virages.

I won the 2010 Solaris Prize!

About one year ago, a Britannic webzine asked for short texts, one or three hundred words max, describing the future in one hundred years, and in the spirit of “mundane” SF. Mundane is a term coined by author Geoff Ryman to describe a “down-to-earth” approach to science-fiction stories.

I jotted a few ideas of a bleak future from which grew an embryo of text. I reworked it… and exceeded the word limit. So I left the text alone for a while.

One or two months later, I took the text back and managed to fold it into a story, with a bird-eye point of view by an unlikely character.

As the Solaris Prize deadline approached, I decided to work on it again, and polish it. The story finally grew strong and mature enough. So, like a child that I am proud of, I let it go…

And I received the good news last week. I’m a proud mother! The Prize includes a generous sum, plus the publication in the Solaris magazine.

The official communiqué (in French) is here