Deborah Leblanc is an award-winning author from Lafayette, Louisiana. She is the president of the Horror Writers Association, president of the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana, and president of the Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest Chapter. She is an active member of Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Women’s Writers, and the International Thriller Writers Inc. In addition to publishing six novels, she is a licensed death scene investigator, paranormal investigator, and business owner. She has channeled her chilling life experiences into gripping novels: Grave Intent, Five Strokes to Midnight, Morbid Curiosity, Family Inheritance, A House Divided, and her most recent novel Water Witch. Later this year, The Wolven will be available and next year in March 2011, Ghost Box will be released. Due to her expertise and infectious energy, she has been a speaker at many writer’s conferences. In addition to her many accomplishments, Deborah has sought to fight illiteracy in America’s teens through founding the LeBlanc Literacy Challenge, an annual national campaign and a non-profit organization, Literacy Inc. She lives in south-central Louisiana with her three daughters. Check out Deborah’s Website for more information.
1) How long have you been a writer?
I started writing short stories in the second grade. I was sort of a loner, very shy and a serious book worm. So to entertain myself, I wrote stories that allowed my imagination, and boring world, to go anywhere.
2) How did you get started in publishing?
This is going to sound a little too easy, but my start up went this way . . .
- Nine years ago, while brushing my teeth one morning, I thought, “I think I’ll write a book.”
- That very evening I started working on FAMILY INHERITANCE, and soon became addicted to the story and the writing process, which, due to work and just general life, I’d been away from far too long.
- Once the book was written, I looked at the stack of pages and thought, “Okay, now what, Einstein?”
- Not being someone prone to frivolity, I figured I’d get my book published. I didn’t have a clue about how the publishing process worked, but I knew I could find out. And I did.
- I discovered that in order to get a New York publisher, which I wanted because of the distribution possibilities, I had to have an agent. Okay, so . . .
- One month later I had five agents asking to represent me and there weeks later, that first novel sold. It’s been a rollercoaster ride ever since. 🙂
3) How long did it take you to publish your 1st book?
Three weeks after getting an agent.
4) Who is your favorite author?
Arg, that is really a tough question because I have so many. To name a few…James Lee Burke, Jodi Picoult, Ernest Gaines, Tom Robbins, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and I enjoy the slap-stick antics of Janet Evanovich’s characters.
5) What is the best author experience so far?
Book signing events always bring present an interesting perspective to writers, I think. That said, here’s a little about my first signing event, my worst signing, and the best signing event so far . . .
I think any author will tell you that book signings are a tough gig. Unless you’re J.K. Rawlings or Nora Roberts, you usually wind up sitting at a signing table near the front of the bookstore, feeling like a Wal-Mart greeter.
I have to admit, though, my first book signing was a blast, an event I’ll never forget. It was held at one of the large chain bookstores in my hometown. Fortunately, the local newspaper caught wind of the event, called me for an interview, then ran the interview and a great book review a couple of days before the signing. Hundreds of people showed up, many of them buying two or three of my books at a time. A third of the way through the event, when the store manager realized they were about to run out of books, he called a sister-store in Baton Rouge and had them bring over their entire stock of my latest release. Even with the added books, however, we still ran out. Now the beauty of that signing was we sold well over 300 books. The ugly of it was that almost every signing afterward paled in comparison.
The worst signing I’ve had so far was in a bookstore in Indianapolis, Indiana. For some reason, the store manager placed all author events at the back of the store…in the gardening section. When I saw the set up, I asked the manager if she’d mind if I moved the table and chair to the front of the store, so I could at least say hello to incoming customers. She adamantly refused, and I had no choice but to sit back there, hidden by a half-wall, two long bookshelves that contained gardening and travel info. Oh, did I mention that the bathroom was directly behind and to the right of me? ARGG!
Needless to say, I sold two books that night, and both were to a personal friend of the store manager who happened into the store and needed the bathroom.
My most memorable signing to date happened in Alabama. I had just made it over to the signing table, which had been set up near the café, when an elderly man came over to say hello. He was stoop-shouldered, had thick, cotton-white hair, and appeared to be in his eighties. He had a noticeable limp and carried a book under his right arm that looked like a used copy of Gone With The Wind.
He walked up to me and held out a hand. “I just wanta tell ya that you’re about the cutest little thing I’ve seen in here all day,” he said.
Great, I thought, a lecher. But he didn’t look like a lecher….
“My name’s Bob, but everybody calls me Grandpa Bob.”
I shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Grandpa Bob.”
He grinned and picked up one of my books. “You write this?”
Grandpa Bob nodded while reading the back cover. After a while, he looked up. “I think I’m gonna buy it.”
Okay, normally I would be ecstatic to hear that statement, but my conscience started bugging me. He was elderly and, based off the book he held under his arm, enjoyed classic literature. I didn’t think my book would suit his taste.
“Grandpa Bob, judging from the book you’ve got there, I don’t think mine would be to your liking. It’s a little . . . intense.”
Bob grinned again and tapped a finger on his chest, right over his heart. “This old ticker can take it.”
“Okay,” I said hesitantly. “If you’re sure.”
“Positive. Would you autograph it?”
“I’d be honored.”
With that, I took the book from him and prepared a special inscription. When I finished and handed the book back to him, Grandpa Bob began telling me about his family, all of whom had moved to other states. Brothers, sisters, (the ones still alive anyway), sons, and daughters, no one left in Alabama. His wife had died six years ago, so he was basically alone.
Bob talked for over a half hour, oblivious to the line of people standing behind him, all of them waiting for an autograph. I didn’t have the heart to stop him. Those earnest, lonely, hungry-for-attention blue eyes nearly broke my heart. A few people behind him left. Some stayed, listening to his story.
When Bob finally wrapped up the story about his family, he reached into the breast pocket of his shirt and said, “I’d like to give you something.” With that, he pulled out a yellow index card and handed it to me.
Printed on the card in bold black letters was: Some gave all, all gave some. Support our troops.
Although confused as to why he’d given me the card, I smiled. “You’re right, some sure did give all. Thank you for the card.”
“Read the other side,” he said.
I flipped the card over. It read, “Lord, help me to be a blessing in someone’s life today.”
I studied that line for a few seconds, suddenly realizing what the old gentleman needed to hear. I looked up at him. “Well, Grandpa Bob, the Lord heard your prayer because you’ve surely been a blessing in my life today.”
The warmest, biggest smile lit Grandpa Bob’s face, and tears welled up in his eyes. He nodded slowly, the look of appreciation in his eyes so vivid it was almost tangible. With a little wave, Bob left the table. I watched him walk to the front of the store, his back a little straighter, his limp barely noticeable now.
I still have that yellow card and keep it with me all the time. It’s a constant reminder for me to pay attention and never get too big for my britches. Because sometimes a book signing has nothing at all to do with the books. 😉
6) What do you when you’re not writing?
Oh, gosh, so many things to do and so little time!
–spend time with my daughters
–work with my German Shepherd, Alex
–Take care of the two businesses I own
Geez, I get tired just making the list!
7) Have you ever had writer’s block? What to you do?
Honestly, I’ve never had writer’s block and don’t even understand the concept. As long as you’re breathing and not alone on the planet, there’s always something to write about!
8) Tips for other aspiring writers:
The best advice I ever received as a newbie writer was: Read, read, read—write, write, write—and NEVER give up!
9) Tell me about any current or upcoming books:
This year’s release is called THE WOLVEN, and it’s the third book in a trilogy I’m working on with Heather Graham. In 2011, I have 6 books being released. Three are from a trilogy called the Grimoire Trilogy—about master witches living in New Orleans, then the first three books in a series called the Ghost Tracker Series. Those three books are: GHOST BOX, 1313 ROYAL, and ZOMBIE ROAD. All feature a female paranormal investigator who winds up biting off far more than she can chew!
10) Where can I purchase a copy?
Any of my books, either past titles or upcoming titles, can be bought in any bookstore or from any online bookseller 🙂