Q&A With Michèle Laframboise

Michèle Laframboise is a bilingual French-Canadian author who has appeared in our magazine with a number of “chocolate-hard” stories over the last two years. Here she discusses her relationship with our magazine, the value of a good rejection letter, and the perils of the publishing industry. Read her latest story for Asimov’s, “I’ll Be Moon for Christmas,” in our [November/December issue, on sale now!]

Asimov’s Editor: How did the title of this piece come to you?
Michèle Laframboise: “I’ll Be Moon for Christmas” is my 4th chocolate-hard science fiction story to be launched in Asimov’s. And, yes, the title and theme had been inspired by this unforgettable tune.

AE: How did this story germinate?
ML: The story took form only gradually, like the slow accretion of small, haphazard asteroids into a planet. The first tiny speck of story-dust was a room, set on the tidally-locked Moon, with artificial musicians playing a tune. And there was one listener. My characters often take time to congeal into a solid, compelling people. Here, someone was listening to the orchestra, and reminiscing of her grand mother playing the brass trumpet . . .
And at this moment, the accretion process accelerated, the story took flight with the alternate POV of the two main characters. The vents that separated them could very well occur in our own lifetimes, so depending are we to electronic and magnetic technologies whose cores seem more and more vulnerable.

AE: What made you think of Asimov’s for this story?
ML: The editor I had submitted the story first rejected it, but suggested that it would be a better fit with Asimov’s. So I did follow her advice.
We often underestimate the service that a good rejection letter can do for us. Sometimes, all it takes to raise readability is a little tuck here, a nip there. In my case, paragraphs are like bricks that, for the sake of information flow, must be moved and disposed in an inviting way for the reader. I often say that I am at the service of the story, but also, the story must touch the reader. Good editors, who are also knowledgeable readers, can detect the subtle places where the narrative goes wrong, off-rails. One told me, for a story, “your story problem should be made visible on page 2.”

AE: How do you deal with writer’s block?
ML: I don’t experience writer’s block, rather the opposite, so many ideas clamoring to be heard! It’s not a lack of ideas, it’s a lack of will that undoes me. And, the worst, is that I am a nitpicker: All my hard-SF, concrete-solid plots seem, to my eye, papery fragile. I am always building a house of cards . . .

Sometimes, when my mind does not want to go writing, I feel this hunger for books. And not only new books, but, old, dear books whose characters and worlds have stayed with me for years. These last weeks, I read a lot and, even, re-read books, like Sheri Tepper’s, Guy Gavriel Kay . . .
I have this need to plunge in a good, secure story, to find back the sentiment, the feeling of wonder multiplied by the protective cocoon of the story. I do have my reader quirks, and when I find a story teller that hits all my delight buttons, with a worlds that I will want to re-live in, I return for another visit.
At the same time, re-reading older books makes me feel guilty towards my fellow writer friends, because their books are still on my reading pile… Oh, the anguish!

AE: What inspired you to start writing?
ML: Well, I had renounced writing for lack of models in SF, so I turned my energies to making comics. One day, one comic had so many elements and details that I was dispirited and decided, hey, it would be easier to write the thing instead of drawing every detail (with the perspective)! Spoiler alert: it was not more easy! The writing itself took years, with many friends and family looking over my shoulder, tons of criticism, rewriting . . . everything that you should not do, I did as a budding writer. But this novel, once published (in French) liberated the way for all the others that followed, and they took less time.

AE: What other projects are you currently working on?
ML: After Mistress of the Winds, my recent graphic novel at Echofictions, I am currently translating some of my YA novels into English and writing a new space-opera. I am also producing new short-stories illustrating new problems, with, hopefully, a solution in the working!
Surprisingly, I am working on another indie-published graphic novel, non-SF, about the joys of the signing table. Many writers and readers will relate to the following illustration: my glorious career so far. May more than luck be with you!

(PIC: the author at her table)
I still draw comics while writing my next SF novels. My creative mind is that jumpy.

AE: What SFnal prediction would you like to see come true?
ML: N.K. Jemisin in Emergency Skin! The very rich abandon the planet and the rest of the world gets better, because the people get together to apply solutions.
Of course, my own futures filled with shared prosperity and sustainable technologies, like an ecological space-lift in my Gardeners Universe, would be fun to live with.

AE: What is something we should know about you that we haven’t thought to ask? Why do you self-publish?
ML: Many of my novels and graphic novels are orphans, because the publishing houses have crumbled behind me like those rope bridges in adventure movies . . . I had to run fast!
A number of my award-winning or nominated short-stories are now stuck between the yellowing pages of old (and proud) magazines. So I created my own house just to make those stories available for the amateurs, which makes me a hybrid writer. Being a Canadian and bilingual, I translated stories so both English- and French-speaking fans can enjoy them.
Echofictions also publishes my backlist of short-stories and novels no longer in print. It is also putting out chapter books in small print runs, an operation that would ruin a traditional publishing house. There is a “Guardian of the threshold” in the traditional publishing system, but the end readers of indie books are the ultimate guardians. They, in all their diversity, know what they want, and what book will comfort, uplift or challenge them.

(PIC: Author running from a rope bridge)

AE: How can readers follow you and your writing?
ML: I’m not that hard to find:
Author website: Michele-laframboise.com
Indie House: Echofictions.com
Blog: Sundayartist.wordpress.com
Twitter: Savantefolle
Facebook: LaframboiseSF
Instagram: michelesff

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