Interview with Francois Houle

When did you first start writing?
I was twelve. I started writing and drawing my own comic book during the summer of 1975 and managed to create 6 pages (the drawing part took a lot of time). Then I started grade 7 in September, my interests changed, and I never got back to that comic book (but I still have those 6 pages). Throughout high school I wrote lyrics for probably more than a hundred songs (I still have them all in a binder). I’m not a musician but at the time I’d wanted to learn to play the guitar. The first novel I wrote was a sci-fi and it took me two years to write (1985-1987). I had no idea what I was doing, but after I wrote it, I knew I had to write more, learn (I read a lot of books on fiction writing over the years), practice to get better, and hope that someday I would see my work published. Smashwords has helped me make that dream come true.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I write a scene that comes alive, where I totally identify with what is happening to the characters. When I get that feeling I know I’ve written something really good and hope that when readers read that scene that they will also experience that feeling. When I write, I can't think of the book as a whole because that's too big. It's easier to think in terms of scenes, and then work each scene until it's as good as it can be, and then move on. When we read we read scenes, we remember great scenes. They are the building blocks of a story. So that's my goal, to write the best scenes that I can, and repeat until I reach the end of the story I want to tell.
What do your fans mean to you?
I want to make sure that when they read my stories that they are totally drawn in. I love reading a book that I can't put down, that I have to read just one more page before turning off the light at night. I want to do the same for my fans. I want to make sure the time they spend reading my books are worth it to them. The first draft is for me, but the finished novel is totally for them.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in a small town just outside of Montreal and moved to Toronto when I was just ten, so I grew up mostly in Toronto. That's where I learned English, so that's the biggest influence it had on me because it allowed me to read books from authors that I probably wouldn't have discovered otherwise, which then led me to want to write.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My dad passed away in 2005 and I wrote three novels between 2006 - 2010 to try and help me get through that difficult time in my life. My novel "It Happened to Us" was the third manuscript I wrote but I felt it had the best story and character development so I decided to put all my efforts into it. In a way it was the easiest to write because it had nothing to do with my dad and really was a fictitious story that I was able to mold into the best story I could write.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've been writing in one form or another for 40 years and decided that I had reached a point in my life where I wanted to share my stories with others. Also, the opportunities now to publish as an indie author are so great that I saw no reasons to try and pursue the traditional route. I worked my novel until it was the best that I could write, then I hired a professional editor who helped me push my writing to the next level. I went through three rounds of editing and rewriting and hired a professional cover designer before my novel was ready to be published. Joanna Penn has also inspired me. Her journey as an indie author is well documented on her blog and I must thank her for willingly sharing all the fantastic knowledge she’s accumulated. C.J. Lyons is another indie author that has inspired me. There are a lot of great indie authors waiting to be discovered.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is giving indie authors the opportunity to get their work into the hands of readers everwhere. That in itself is a wonderful thing and I must thank Mark Coker for his vision in building this great platform. Now, it's up to me to reach readers out there and to do that I'll be following all the great advice found in “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.”
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm just starting so I can't really say what is working. I've read "How to Market a Book" by Joanna Penn which is full of great information (she has a wonderful blog too) and I also really like and recommend "Smashwords Book Marketing Guide" and "Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success" by Mark Coker. The easiest step to implement is making sure your email signature helps to promote you as an author so I have implemented that strategy. I have a website which I started several months before I published my first novel but it's just in its infancy and it will take time to add good content that my fans will value. I'm also on Goodreads and joined one of the writers groups that interested me the most and now I need to become an active participant. There are so many things we can do but it's important, I believe, to not try to do too much all at once because it is time consuming. Writing the next novel should be a priority and it is for me.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently editing and rewriting the second of the three books I wrote between 2006 - 2010. There’s a good story in that first draft and I’ll work on it until the story it was meant to be comes out. I hope to have it available by Christmas 2015 or early 2016.
Who are your favorite authors?
Frank Herbert wrote great sci-fi and after reading Dune, I was hooked and that motivated me to write a sci-fi novel. I also really like Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova, John Varley, Arthur C. Clark, and too many to list. I read hundreds of sci-fi books during my teenage years.

Next came Stephen King and Dean Koontz and other horror writers. I then tried my hand at writing several horror novels but it still wasn’t what I really wanted to write. I was still searching for my genre.

This I found reading these current favorites: Jodi Picoult, Lisa Genova, Richard Paul Evans, Rebecca Coleman, Anne Tyler, Alison Pick, Tatiana De Rosnay, and Nicholas Sparks, to name a few.

For a change of pace I like a good thriller and these are my favorites: Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Lindwood Barclay, Lisa Unger, and J.F. Penn.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My wife bought me a Sony PRS-650 4 years ago and I still really like it. I’ve never had any issues with it. I'd say that 95% of the books I read are eBooks. We also have two Kobo readers.
Describe your desk
Being a woodworking enthusiast, I built my desk back in 2010. I made it out of red oak (the top and legs are solid oak and the sides are plywood oak), dimensions are 66" x 30" with a side extension that is 28" x 21" and a height of 29". I took the plans from one of my Woodsmith magazines and changed it a bit to suit me needs. I stained it a nice dark brown and finished it with three coats of polyurethane. I love it but it could be larger. I have books and papers and my laptop with an extra monitor and a printer sitting on it so it's cluttered. But it's where you'll find me every night and every weekend, writing, editing, or doing something else related to my books.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
It's nice to just shut everything out and just spend time with my wife and daughter, talking about our day, playing games, going for a walk with our beast of a dog, or just enjoying a movie with lots of popcorn.
Published 2015-04-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Beautiful Midnight
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 86,990. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Literature » Literary
Sometimes you must let go of the past to live again. "Beautiful Midnight" is a contemporary love tragedy that will show you the depth of a broken heart, the hopes of new love, and the lingering legacy of a young woman’s unstoppable spirit. Get "Beautiful Midnight" today!
Broken Hearts
Price: Free! Words: 25,390. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Family
First Love. Heartbreaking Endings. "Broken Hearts," a prequel novella to "It Happened to Us," is a modern-day love story for all ages that explores first teenage crush and heartbreaking endings. Grab your copy of "Broken Hearts" today and get to know the Delacroix and Weatherly families in the months leading to the day that changed their lives forever.
We Became Us
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 26,610. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Do You Believe in Second Chances? "We Became Us," a prequel novella to "It Happened to Us," is a tender story of hope and second chances between two people who have become a little wary and disillusioned of ever finding true love. Grab your copy of "We Became Us" today and fall for Mathieu and Lori-Anne.
It Happened to Us
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 59,950. Language: English. Published: April 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Can she let go of her guilt? Can he forgive her before he loses her too? "It Happened to Us" is a beautifully written and true to life depiction of the struggle, the pain, and ultimately the healing that follows the worst tragedy all parents fear. Grab your copy of "It Happened to Us" today!