Angèle Gougeon is a Fantasy and Paranormal author living in the prairies of Canada. When not writing, she spends her time painting, working on personal and commissioned works such as children’s books and book covers, as well as attending local craft shows, farmer’s markets, and working part-time growing all manner of green things during the Spring and Summer months.
Angèle’s writing often explores the darker shades of grey and morality in humanity, with special focus on family and personal strife.
Your novel Sticks and Stones features a character that can see how people will die, simply by touching them? Would you want to know how you will die if somebody could tell you? Why or why not?
Whenever my friends and I would discuss powers in movies and books and myths, I would always be the one asking, “But, why?” Maybe it’s my writer’s brain, but the idea of immortality and visions and the ability to bench-press a van has always seemed mildly horrifying when transferred to a real world setting. I suppose that’s why my character, Sandra, spends her time seeing gruesome deaths instead of next week’s winning lotto numbers. It’s not meant to be pleasant, and it’s much more of a curse than a blessing.
I can’t say I would like to know about my own death. If you can tell me I go out fighting ninjas or eating the best-tasting doughnut in the world while buildings explode in the distance and an orchestra crescendos then, by all means, let me know. But if I’m about to die while sitting on a toilet, you can keep that information to yourself.
One theme in Sticks and Stones could be summarized by the old aphorism ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’. Why do you think it is so easy for our best intentions to lead us into dark waters?
That’s truly the crux of it, isn’t it? Everyone’s best intentions are best for themselves. But are they also best for those around them?
The characters in my novel are chasing for an ideal that doesn’t exist. There are no good decisions for them. Their proof of wrong-doing exists only as visions inside Sandra’s head. So they kill someone to save someone else (or several someones) and does that make it right? (Of course it doesn’t.) But the characters of Sticks and Stones live in a reality where their decisions lie between choosing something horrible and something else even worse. The novel is very much an exploration of monsters – both in a psychological and physical sort of way. In the end, Jack, Daniel and Sandra are struggling with the biggest question of all – who is the real monster?
We strive for the best, but sometimes even our sincerest intentions have us crash and burn. It’s an interesting tug-and-pull of expectation and hope vs reality and desperation, and one that’s very interesting to write.
In addition to writing, you expend your creative energy painting. Are the two forms of creativity linked for you, or do you keep them very separate?
I was drawing as soon as I picked up a pencil. I started writing stories as soon as I knew how. There’s certainly a sense of abstract and fantasy that comes out in my traditional and watercolor pieces, but there was no direct link to my writing until I recently began working on book covers and children’s illustrations. The biggest disparity between my two creative worlds is the subject matter itself – my painted works are often bright and colorful (and, dare I say, cute), while my written works fall on that darker edge where the grayer shadows of humanity can be explored. My mind often goes quiet while painting, and writing leads to hair pulling and cursing, so … take that as you will.
As a follow up to that question: if you were forced to give up one, which activity would you abandon?
“Boy,” I thought as I sat painting, waiting for my interview questions, “I hope no one asks me that.”
How can I give one up? They both allow me to explore different worlds.
I write when I can’t paint, and paint when I can’t write, though I’m sure I’d become much more prolific in one of I gave up the other. The amount of art supplies I own that would go to waste might be answer enough. And I’d still have Sticks and Stones. We’ll always have the memories, kid.
OK – that wasn’t a very fair question. Let’s try something a little cheerier. A billionaire patron drops into your lap. She wants a book created especially for her that pulls together your two creative passions – writing and painting. What would you create given all the money and time you needed?
Well, first I’d need a visit to the hospital to deal with the heart attack I’d just had.
Surprisingly enough, this is an easy one. I grew up on fairy tales and mythology and family history, and my interest never waned. I love rewritten fairy tales. If I could include my own repurposed fairy tales interspersed with art pieces in a style more reminiscent of my darker writings (less cute, I mean) … well, I’d have a hell of a good time doing it. Illuminated manuscript, here I come!
If you were able heal one human foible or malady, what would you choose?
How about the ability for common sense to not be so uncommon? I’ve always found the words to be a misnomer.
What is your favorite (read) book and why?
When I was nine, my fourth grade teacher read us Wilson Rawls’ Where the Red Fern Grows. It made such an impression that I could still quote scenes years later. In Junior High, I picked up a tattered, marked-up, old copy from a library book sale, and proceeded to read it at least once a year. I still try to keep up the tradition.
That last scene still makes me cry.
What is the book you dream of writing and haven’t yet?
Surprisingly enough, it wouldn’t be a fantasy or paranormal or any other kind of speculative fiction. I would like to draw on family history and explore my own heritage – tell the story of my ancestor who claimed to be French nobility on his death bed to his children, or the story of an odd man who carved his own peg leg, or our settlers who were flooded out of their own homes in Seven Sisters when they refused to sell their land, or those who had the horror of fleeing across the Dniester-Liman as war broke out in Russia so that they could come to Canada. There’s an interesting draw that can come from combining personal and world history into a fleshed out tale – one that I’d like to explore one day.
Find out more about Angèle Gougeon
Webpage: Angèle Gougeon on Goodreads