Author Interview: Jeannette Bedard

By day Author Jeannette Bedard is a scientist, by night she writes science fiction. Her stories are filled with action and adventure where something always blows up, usually in the first fifty pages. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jeannette BedardHi, I’m Jeannette and I write science fiction. As soon as I was old enough to leave home, I set off after adventure. So far, my non-linear career path has included serving in the army and working as a scientist in the Arctic. I have more degrees than I need and even through my current day job keeps me desk bound, I still daydream about going on adventures (and I will someday). I live on an island off the west coast of Canada with my husband and daughter. The nerd in me really likes math jokes, especially if there’s pi involved.

When and why did you begin writing?

For me, storytelling didn’t start with writing. As a child I suffered from insomnia combined with an overactive imagination. Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I just made up stories to entertain myself (I still do this). It wasn’t until I was in the middle of my undergraduate degree that it dawned on me others might enjoy my stories too and I started writing them down.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I only started considering myself a writer when I published my first novel Day 115 on an Alien World (which was the 5th complete novel I wrote).

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Years ago I read Ice Station Zebra — a cold war thriller set on a submarine operating under the Arctic ice. I read the novel long enough ago that only one thing sticks out in my mind about it — the submarine had a saboteur on board, a terrifying thing in a confined space.

This hypothetical fear percolated to the surface of my mind after I read The Martian, science fiction set in the not so distant future. I already harboured a fascination about biodomes, closed ecosystems cut-off from the outside. Why not put a saboteur on a dome on a far-off world? From this question, Day 115 on an Alien World arose.

The original idea morphed into a series of four books, the finale I published last summer.

What inspired you to write this book?

Once the idea was in my head, I had to write it down—but the timing was not ideal. I was in the middle of a PhD program and just had a baby. It wasn’t inspiration that put the novel on paper, more dogged persistence and sleep deprivation combined with a dash of craziness.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I consider the craft of my writing to be a work in progress—one which I’ll never finish. I’m always trying to improve. I try to make my characters and settings quirky while adding just a touch of humour.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title Day 115 on an Alien World came about after I discovered that a blue morpho butterfly only lives 115 days—a fact my protagonist, a lepidopterist, would know. Also, having a number in the title really appeals to me.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

On the surface, the book is full of action and adventure, but deep down it’s about fitting in—a theme that often emerges in my writing.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I’ve never lived under a domed on an alien world—so no, it’s not about events in my life. I did, however, take elements from what I know to add flavour to life on an alien world. Like a conversation I had in the grocery story about rambutan fruit (that they looked like muppet testicles) to some of my experiences in the army.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Mary Roach’s Packing For Mars started me thinking about writing after a long dry spell. Its a non-fiction account of all the science that is going into putting people in space. I love how she presents science with such humour and delight.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clark was the first adult science fiction novel I ever read— more than twenty years ago and still think about how alien the ship they explored was.

Becky Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit is a recent favourite In fact, I’ve loved every one of her books because she’s created a rich future world that I could live in. But the second one in her series really resonated with me because it was about fitting in.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I’ve reread Becky Chambers books multiple times trying to figure out how I could write more like her—does that count?

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Tiffany Catron designed the cover of Day 115 on an Alien World, unfortunately she doesn’t make covers any more. It was important to me that the cover have a solo astronaut on the cover walking on a barren world.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write lots, and lots more. Also, expect your first drafts to suck. The hardest part for me is starting with a blank page—but once I suffer through writing that first draft, I shape it into something.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading!

Day 115 on an Alien WorldJeannette Bedard
Victoria, British Columbia

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