When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t want to be an author. I went to film school and originally wanted to be a director. I had too much social anxiety and never felt comfortable with the idea of organizing a large group of people. The director dream died, but I did learn a bunch about screenplays and writing during my time in film school. Many years later I finally found my storyteller's voice which is very much fueled by that director dream.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Years. My first novel was about three or four years. My second novel was published 18-months later but had been softly in progress the entire time I wrote my first novel. I hope that I can get my next book out in under 18-months because it is a direct sequel to my second novel and had tons of writing that we cut from the first entry, but we will see. I published Pulse: Book One in December so May/June 2023 would be about 18-months later. I would need to be done writing a few months before then to put the finishing touches on the project. It’s an attainable goal for sure as I have a solid draft already and will be editing all summer to clean it up.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
It is so much work and you don’t get paid upfront unless you are a household name. I have put in thousands of hours at next to no pay, but at least I do get to own and keep the work at the end of the day which is a big reason I got away from corporate work. I didn’t like the idea of a soulless entity taking credit for all my hours of work. With my books at least I get the credit.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have tons and tons of tags on Instagram. People are moved by my books so I am getting an emotional response which I think is one of the main things you want as a writer. If I am getting reactions, they felt something while reading. I try to respond to all comments and DMs from readers. If someone puts in a few hours to read my work, the least I can do is engage with their posts. Sometimes I can get busy and my social media gets neglected, but know that I do appreciate all the fans. I run the platform myself so if you see a message, it is me.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me, editing exhausts me. I take the bad with the good. One of my favorite things to do is create a new chapter to fill a gap. That white blank page always excites me. On the flip side though, when going through the last few drafts and doing the more tedious line-level editing, I get exhausted because the side of this I like is the raw creativity, not the technical side of language. I know that you need both though. I have to improve on my technical line-level skills so I can better communicate my ideas. Editing exhausts me because it is a constant learning experience. Blank page writing excites me because it is that moment of flow where everything falls away and I transport myself away just like how the reader gets to experience the finished product.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Spelling and grammar. I am not a technical writing guy and my background is in film school. These stories are pure creativity and then I lean on editors to help clean up my sentence structure. Editing is exhausting to me, but I also understand it is necessary and valuable. I often book more than one editor on my projects because I think it helps me grow by seeing three different sides to the same idea. If both editors say the same thing, I know I am wrong. If the editors end up with a split, then I become the tiebreaker and I do some learning to help break the tie. The three-person system works for me as a way to address my weakest spot.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Original for sure. I am looking to surprise readers. I am looking for twists. I am looking for fresh ideas. I think you can be original and give a reader what they want. Many of the Pulse readers went in expecting something like Black Mirror or X-Files. I feel like I deliver on that while still being wildly original. You have never read anything like Pulse even though it is like some of our iconic entertainment.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?
A writer is someone who writes. I think the bigger distinction is when to call someone an author. Being an author involves wearing tons of different hats and perhaps chief among them is the marketing hat. Many of the indie authors I see are more like writers than authors. There are lots of people that write and put it out to the world, then stop. You’re a writer at that point for sure, but the best writer might not make it as an author unless they grow on the marketing side. Get out there and network with other authors. Market yourself. Produce engaging content on social media. Then you are getting closer to being an author.
For me, there was a moment when I feel I moved from writer to author. It was when I won the Reader Views Reviewers Choice Literary Award for 2021 Young Adult Book of the Year. I also was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts around the same time. Those two things happening were my graduation from writer to author. Grant-funded and award-winning…doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Why did they happen? I applied for them. I talked to other authors about things I should do. I read marketing blogs. Those titles I earned are a product of networking, marketing, and learning. They didn’t just appear on my profile by themselves. It took months and months of work after I published to get to those achievements.
What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?
Every author has it. Don’t use it as an excuse. Move to a different spot. Work on a different project. I frequently will put a project down for a bit when I hit big walls. Sometimes even a whole month. One of the reasons I started making music was to deal with writer’s block. If my manuscript is frozen, making a song often helps me because it gets my creativity flowing again. I don’t want to spiral into the pit and producing music makes my periods of manuscript inactivity feel productive.
Another tip. Read something. If you are stuck and don’t know what to do next, pick up a book. If you have a specific problem, try and find a title that addresses the problem. If you just have a general block, read something you would never normally read. I have heard of authors reading poetry, romance novels, or teen novels when they would never write in those genres. They do it because it helps them see new paths.
Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
It’s a balance for sure. I have ideas for characters and then I write a few plot points for them. You can’t do one without the other. I probably lean a little heavier to plot early and then fill in the characters later, but they grow in tandem. I would say write a pitch or treatment. 1-2 pages outlining the basics. Then move to a spreadsheet. Outline the plot on one tab. Outline the characters on another. Bounce back and forth as the ideas feed each other. Knowing when to start writing is a gut feeling. You as the planner will feel the words starting to bubble up and know when it is time to move from planning to the first draft.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Someone who is a little frustrated by the power of corporations and the ugly class system the modern world has morphed into. Someone who likes scary creatures and conspiracies. If you are into Black Mirror or X-Files you will like this.
How much research did you need to do for your book?
I watched a ton of documentaries. Probably fifty. I also had three science consultants read sections as I wanted to keep my science in the realm of possibilities. My story gets a bit fantastical in a few places and good science grounds it. If you are going to have creatures running around killing people, you better have some science that makes it all believable.
Tell us more about your book/s?
In the year 2040, a mysterious creature is unleashed at the world’s biggest music festival…
“Bellec’s descriptions are phenomenal, brutal, and heart-stopping. There were parts that made my skin crawl, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away. . . I needed more!”
– Jessica Scurlock, Author of the Pretty Lies Series & Pulse Beta Reader
Pulse is a plot-driven multi-POV dystopian sci-fi horror thriller set in 2040, centered around a corporation, a creature, and a music festival. Think Fyre Festival, Black Mirror, and X-Files combined. The story deals with themes of capitalism, consumerism, business, politics, pandemics, climate change, activism, and technology while bouncing between a diverse group of characters sure to entertain almost anyone. The book is already being praised for its fantastic use of horror, engaging world-building, and genre-bending approach utilizing some screenplay-like formatting. This is the first entry in a new series with the sequel well underway.
This book also comes with original music, come check out my YouTube channel: