One of the greatest joys of writing is how it can make you look at something new, push you to research it, and discover new passions. When one of my characters really loves something, I tend to not only read on it, but to experience it myself.
So in 2011, while I was still in the process of drafting Viral Airwaves (and learning how to write at all, too), I went on a hot air balloon flight, and it was amazing. It was early in the morning, and as I held the balloon’s envelope while huge fans pushed air into it, I could hardly believe my luck. The sun shone, the pilot was funny and easy to approach (my boyfriend asked him tons of questions about everything because I was too shy), and the flight remains one of the most peaceful moment of my existence. I was up there, a tiny notebook in hand, scribbling observations while a choir of angels sang in my head. And a lot of it made it into Viral Airwaves, too, notably the description of forests as broccoli, and the use of the thick red emergency rope.
Yet one of the memories that sticks with me the most is the silence. Thousands of feet in the air, we heard nothing but the slight hiss from the gas, and the intense whoosh whenever the pilot turned the burner on. It was incredibly tranquil. Adding to that effect was the fact that rivers down below seem frozen in place, because you are high enough not to see the movement of currents. It was like the entire world had paused while we drifted in the sky.
I’ve always loved hot air balloons, and ever since I took that flight, I have been decorating my room with cool balloon things and reading more about them. We jumped into the huge helium one that floats over Berlin, too, and I’m certain it won’t be the last time I take to the air.
Balloons aren’t the only cool things I’ve discovered while researching for novels. We have a saying in French, “mettre la main à la pâte”, which translates to “put your hands in the dough” and means to work directly, hands on. You could say that research for Baker Thief led me to do this … quite literally.
One day my boyfriend happened to come home with a colleague’s recipe for flaky dough and excitedly wanted to make chocolatines. Needless to say, I was quite game for it. I love pastries, and baking my own brings me immense pride and joy. There’s something special about the dough stretching just right, or rolling little croissants into perfect, adorable shapes, or watching them grow golden in the oven. It took us a few tries to get them right, but it’s now been a year and a half since our first attempt, and I have mastered the art of flaky dough.
Next step: bake the best bread in the galaxy!
Claudie Arseneault is an aromantic-spectrum and asexual writer who loves puns, large casts of queer characters, and stories that give the centre stage platonic relationships. Viral Airwaves is her first novel, a solarpunk story where a group of rebels must spread word about a deadly government conspiracy with their hot air balloon radio show. Baker Thief comes out this summer and features an aromantic bigender baker trying to prevent his sister from being turned into a power source. Between these two novels, she has thrown her love of old school fantasy with elves and wizards into the City of Spires trilogy. Claudie is also known for building and maintaining the aromantic and asexual characters database. Follow her on twitter @ClH2OArs and find more about her work at claudiearseneault.com