February 23, 2013

Hélène Boudreau: Blog Tour and Author Interview

Hélène Boudreau

of the recently released

Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2013)

and two previous Real Mermaids books

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings (2010)


Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath (2012)

graciously agreed to answer a few questions 
for CanLit for LittleCanadians as part of her 
blog tour for Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels
(which I will review tomorrow)

CLfLC:  What compelled you to take mermaids from the Little Mermaid realm for little girls and move them into the middle grade and teen years of your books?

Hélène Boudreau: My main goal was to write an honest portrayal of what it’s like for a young girl when so many changes are happening in her body. Jade just happens to be a mermaid but she’s not so different from other girls her age. She’s wondering about boys, trying to figure out friendships, and seeing changes in her body. Though, in Jade’s case, make that BIG changes!

My own daughter is almost twelve and is at the precipice of entering those uncertain years of raging hormones and topsy-turvy emotions. I really wanted to write a fun story for her (and girls like her) to ease her into the land of zits, training bras and smelly armpits. The upside being that—no matter how hard puberty might get—at least she doesn’t have a TAIL!

CLfLC:  What kind of research did you do to help develop the mer characteristics and society?

Hélène Boudreau: The setting for my story is based on a small town near where I grew up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. There is a boat canal, which connects the Atlantic Ocean to an inland fresh water lake, separated by a boat lock. I spent a lot of time researching the mechanism of the boat lock, water height, tides and salinity to really try to grasp how these varying conditions might affect the mers in my story.

I also researched a lot of theories on primordial development and the concepts of human evolution. My main focus was to make the magic as ‘believable’ as possible by basing it on scientific explanations (which I extrapolated on, of course).

CLfLC:  Why did you choose to make Jade a plus-size character?

Hélène Boudreau: I don’t think it was a conscious decision on my part but, when I started writing about Jade and getting to know her, her size just became part of her character, just like the color of her hair or her love of flip-flops.

CLfLC:  The voices of your early teen characters resonate well with thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls.  How do you manage to make Jade and her friends' voices sound so authentic?

Hélène Boudreau:  Thank you! It thrills me to bits to hear you think so. As far as authenticity, it helps that I have young daughters and nieces, I suppose. I think for any type of character an author needs to immerse themselves in that role just like an actor researching a part. Reading lots of books, listening to popular music and watching movies for that age range, plus observing kids in that age group in real life all help but I think each character has their own emotional truth and staying true to that is key to writing authentic characters.

CLfLC:  Was it harder to write the first Real Mermaids book, with establishing the characters, the backgrounds, history and setting, or writing your newest Real Mermaids book, and having to find new ways to plot for your Real Mermaids and mers? 

Hélène Boudreau:  They are all hard! LOL Honestly, though, the first one was difficult for me because as you say, there is a lot of world-building and character development when you first delve into a story. I wrote and rewrote that first book many, many times trying to get it right because I knew I wanted it to develop into a series so it was important to lay the groundwork. That being said, each subsequent book is a little bit harder for me because I need to work within the confines of the previous books while growing the story in new, fresh directions. It’s all fun, though!

For more information about her books and news, 
connect with Hélène Boudreau  

Many thanks to Hélène Boudreau for allowing  
CanLit for LittleCanadians to participate in her 
Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels blog tour

Look for my review of Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels posting tomorrow here on CanLit for LittleCanadians

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