Robert Knight was the pen name for the horror novels of Cindy Bouchard. She wrote historical fiction set in her beloved Canada under her own name. I interviewed Cindy last February, and to my great regret, I didn’t publish her interview as planned, as she passed away last September after a long illness.
Cindy was a wonderful, talented, generous woman who wrote two kick ass zombie novels and was taken from this life much too young.
After a lot of thought, I have decided to publish her interview in tribute to Cindy and her books.
It was a snowy day last February when we video chatted, Cindy surround by her husband and their beloved Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Although she looked frail, her fighting spirit and her love of life was evident, from her colorful hair, to the passion with which she spoke about her writing.
Like most writers I’ve talked to, Cindy started writing as a young child, scribbling down stories onto any available paper, including napkins when she was in the first grade. Inspired by the books she loved, such as Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables, her early work copied these tales of adventurous young women.
Perhaps it was these books that laid the foundation for her Princes of the North series, set in Canada at a time when settlers moved to new ground on the massive paddle wheelers that traveled up the river to Prince George.
Apart from reading some Anne Rice and Stephen King, Cindy had little interest in horror and didn’t consider writing it until she became a fan of The Walking Dead tv series in 2012. She became enamored with the idea of a worker in a liquor store being the last to know that the world had ended, and how zombies would cope in 40 below temperatures. and from such little seeds the two Zombie Zone Zero books grew.
Funnily enough, what Cindy liked best about writing was reading. Whether for entertainment or research, she loved entering other worlds, and enjoyed the deep emotional involvement that books provided compared to visual entertainment.
Her least favourite part of writing was the actual time it took to craft a good story. She would have loved to have written complete books in a couple of days rather than the months of effort it took.
When I asked her why she chose to publish her horror books under a male pseudonym, she said that she felt, as a woman writing horror, she would not be taken seriously. Perhaps because, in 2012, The Walking Dead seemed at first to find a predominately male audience, reinforcing the stereotypes of horror’s appeal, or because she was seeking to distance her contemporary horror novels from her historical fiction, Cindy followed in the footsteps of many female authors and chose to publish under a male pen name. I like to think that things have changed, and when I see the number of women nominated for the Stoker Award this year, it looks like they have.
At the time we talked, Cindy was considering combining horror and history, and writing a book concerning the accounts of cannibals in Alberta’s past. It sounded like fertile ground for a great story, and it is a shame that Cindy didn’t get a chance to write it.
Cindy’s advice to other writers is to sit down and do it. Don’t be intimated by a blank page, don’t overthink it or put it off. Have fun with it, it’s not meant to be stressful. It’s sound advice, and I wish I had taken it with regard to writing this interview last February.
Condolences to Cindy’s family and friends on her passing.