Friday, January 22, 2010

Spotlight on Deborah LeBlanc

Award-winning and best-selling author, Deborah LeBlanc, is a business owner, a licensed death scene investigator, and has been an active paranormal investigator for over fifteen years. She's the President of the Horror Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America's Southwest Chapter, and the Writers' Guild of Acadiana.
Deborah is also the founder of the LeBlanc Literacy Challenge, an annual, national campaign designed to encourage more people to read and Literacy Inc., a non-profit organization with a mission to fight illiteracy in America's teens. Her latest novel is WATER WITCH.

DRose: Welcome Deborah. Let’s start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Deborah: I was born in Scott, Louisiana, a small town just outside of Lafayette. For anyone wondering, yep, I am 100% Cajun. J As to what I wanted to be growing up, I think it would be easier to name what I didn’t want to be! Let’s see…I wanted to be a teacher, a psychiatrist, Superman, a famous rock star, a nun. . . get the picture? lol

DRose: Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors have influenced you and your work?

Deborah: So many authors have influenced me over the years-- Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, James Lee Burke, Tom Robbins. But the storyteller who influenced me the most was my grandmother. She was a no-nonsense, hard-working woman, who told it like it was. When she told a story, it was never fiction. It was always an accounting of something that had actually happened to someone in the family years earlier, and more times than not, those stories included the supernatural. She told those stories with such passion, her hands gesturing for emphasis, her eyes widening or narrowing to punctuate a point that I'd sit at the foot of her rocker spellbound, not wanting the story to ever end. When I wrote Family Inheritance, which does revolve around a treateur, I wrote from experience because my grandmother was a treateur, as was her mother and her mother's mother. She was indeed one remarkable woman!

DRose: Do you have a favorite book or series?

Deborah: In all honesty, no. As long as a writer tells an interesting story well, his or her story becomes my favorite for the day.

DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

Deborah: Lawd, yes! I enjoy reading, horseback riding, motorcycle riding, paranormal investigations, and hanging out with my daughters.

DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

Deborah: My latest, published novel is WATER WITCH, and it’s about a dowser from west Texas with unusual abilities. She’s called to a small town in south Louisiana to help find two missing children who are feared lost in the swamps. What she discovers, though, is a heck of a lot more than she bargains for!

Oddly enough, the book came to mind when I heard a woman at a local writers’ conference talking about her grandfather. She claimed he was a Water Witch, someone who doused for water, especially in dry country. I’d never heard anyone called a Water Witch before, and the name fascinated me…and also took root in my head. Before I knew it, I was sitting at my computer writing the novel.

DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

Deborah: My pen to publication story is a little different than most I think. I acquired an agent one month after writing my first novel, FAMILY INHERITANCE, and the agent sold the book about a month and a half later.

DRose: Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

Deborah: I have quite a few projects going on at the moment. My next book comes out mid 2010 and it will be the third book in a trilogy I'm writing with Heather Graham. The working title of that book is WOLF'S BANE, and it's set in the heart of New Orleans.

In 2011, I have six books scheduled to be released. The first three will be from a trilogy called Ghost Trackers. The main character in each book (GHOST BOX, 1313 ROYAL, and ZOMBIE ROAD) is a female paranormal investigator named Tess Bienville, who's driven to find out the truth about the afterlife when her four-year-old son is murdered. From all indications, even before the first book is released, it looks like the publisher is interested in making this a series instead of a trilogy, which means there should be many more Ghost Tracker books to follow those three. YAY!

On the heels of Ghost Tracker, I have another trilogy that will be released by another publisher. This one's called The Grimoire Trilogy. It's also set in New Orleans and involves triplet sisters who are master witches, and each sister is responsible for a certain sect of underground creatures that thrive in the city. Vampires-werewolves-and zombies. And, yep, these are going to include sex. J

DRose: Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

Deborah: I’m going to cheat here and say both. I usually start with a general, loose chapter outline. For example, if I guesstimate that the book will have approximately 40 chapters, I’ll number a sheet of paper one through forty, then write one sentence next to each number that will prompt me to what that chapter should be about. After that, everything else is up for grabs.

DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?

Deborah: Neither. I prefer quiet when I’m writing. It’s easier to transcribe the scenes I’m seeing in my head. Sometimes even white-noise bugs the heck out of me.

DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

Deborah: All I need is a good storyline in my head, a computer, and a bit of quiet. With that, I’m good to go.

DRose: Most people see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

Deborah: I think the word obsessed is more apropos than disciplined. Once a story plants itself in my head, I become a mad woman until it all comes out on paper. It’s not unusual to find me at the computer 16 hours a day, six days a week until it’s done. See what I mean?

O-b-s-e-s-s-e-d!

DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

Deborah: Think mudslides off Mt. Everest . . .

DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?

Deborah: Sitting in front of the boob-tube with a tub of chocolate ice cream, watching old Abbott and Costello movies.

DRose: Do you have any advice to someone wanting to be a writer?

Deborah: Remember . . . if you’re a writer, the fastest route to failure is doing nothing while your muse is off visiting some other writer. The simplest cure is to keep your butt in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and just write!

And if you’re a reader, you’re one of a dying breed, so please help save the species. Read to your children. Encourage your friends to read. Give books for gifts instead of gismos and gadgets. And most importantly, don’t stop reading!

DRose: We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Desert Dreams Conference. What can you tell us about the workshops you’ll be presenting?

Deborah: I’m thrilled to be attending the Desert Rose Conference! So far, I have two workshops scheduled. The first one is called The Good, The Bad, The Unforgettable—Ten steps to creating memorable characters. (Pretty self-explanatory)

The other is called Working with the Dead. At this workshop we’ll discuss:

1. What really happens when a body is removed from a death scene?

2. What truly goes on behind morgue and embalming room doors?

3. What happens to a body after it has been in a casket for a year—five years—sixty years?

4. What about after death? Are ghosts real or are those paranormal “reality” shows a bunch of bunk?

This workshop will give attendees answers to questions they may wish they’d never asked!

DRose: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us, Deborah.

Deborah: It’s been my pleasure! Thank you!!


To learn more about Deborah visit www.deborahleblanc.com and www.literacyinc.com

1 comment:

  1. Debra,
    Sounds fascinating. I love how you got the idea for Water Witch. Sometimes just a word or phrase can blossom. I'm looking forward to hearing your workshop.

    ReplyDelete