June 12, 2006

3 Questions with Deborah LeBlanc

Before we talk to Deborah LeBlanc, I have to just take a quick second and tell you, DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK. It will take you to Want Not Dot Net, a site all about living better for less, and I went, and if I had not gone, I wouldn't have known about the sale going on at Hanna Andersson, and I wouldn't have accidentally whipped out my Amex spent a bunch of money there. Of course, I got two Hanna Andersson dresses for about what one usually costs, and can you IMAGINE the blinding adorableness of Maisy in this thing?

magicdress.jpeg

No. You can't imagine it. The oceanic depths of her adorableness in this is not fathomable by the human imagination. I can't find my digicam, but even if I COULD...I don't think it could capture her ridiculous DELIGHT to be wearing this thing she picked out HER OWN SELF. It is called HER MAGIC PURPLE DRESS and Maisy calls it that, keeping the her, as in, "I want to wear my her magic purple dress!" I am DYING of it. THANKS Want Not!

Meanwhile, in less cute news, Deborah LeBlanc freakin' sees dead people. She's a Louisiana horror writer with a huge cult following, and her latest is called A House Divided. You know what -- I'm not going to tell you what it is about. Go watch the TRAILER! I'm always so INTERESTED in these, and this one is different from the other BOOK TRAILERS I've linked to in the past. It's not animated or an excerpt read aloud with still shot images to go with, nor is it like a music video. It's live action, with actors doing actual scenes from the book. GO SEE IT!

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There's a thirty second version and a long one---I'd love to hear what you think, especially if you've watched the other kinds before.

Deborah agreed to play three questions, so I'll let her talk now.

JJ: Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

DL: I dedicated A House Divided to my dad. Ever since I can remember, he's been an inspiration to me, teaching me that all things are possible if I believe, work hard, and stay committed to a daily course of action that takes me closer to my goal. His wisdom and the open-minded way in which he approaches most things in life taught me how to fearlessly face the unknown. To give you an idea of what he's like, here’s a little conversation we had after Christmas dinner last year...

“Dad, where did 2005 go? I swear it’s like I went to bed on Christmas night, 2004 and woke to Christmas day 2005. I don’t know where all the days in between went.”

He nods, smiles, and watches my three-year-old nephew run by with a Christmas bow on his head.

“I mean nothing is slow anymore. Why is that? Is the earth moving faster now or something? What about all our so-called technological advancements? Weren’t they supposed to save us time? It seems like the more ‘advanced’ we get, the faster time flies by. Why is that?”

He sips his coffee. There’s a twinkle in his eye.

“Think about, Dad. Right now you can look back and remember easier, slower times, so can I. Hell, even my kids can. But what will slower times look like for my grandkids? For my great-grandkids? Can you imagine what the world will be like when they have to look back at today, 2005, and say this was their slower time?”

Dad waits a beat before putting a weather-beaten hand over mine on the table. “Close your eyes,” he says.

“Huh?”

“Just close ‘em.”

I did.

“Remember when William ran by here a minute ago?”

“Yeah.”

“What color was the bow on his head?”

“Blue.”

“It was red.”

I frowned.

“What kind of shoes did he have on?”

Frown deepening. “Sneakers.”

“He was barefoot.”

I open my eyes and look around for William. Sure enough, he’s pattering around the kitchen without shoes.

“There were twenty-four hours in a day when I was twenty,” Dad says. “And now that I’m ninety, there are still twenty-four hours in a day. Time hasn’t changed, Punkin’, we have. It only seems to be moving faster because we’re not paying attention to the ‘slow’ things anymore.”

***How right he was.

JJ: Do you think of yourself as a Southern writer, and what does that MEAN to you?

DL: Although I was born, raised, and still live in the South, I’m Cajun by heritage. Our culture is a bit different than most Southerners’. So are our traditions. I try to incorporate that uniqueness into my writing so the rest of the world will know what being a Cajun truly means. The largess of the people, their strength and determination to survive against all odds, their joie de vivre and belief in family—this and so much more is what gives me a heritage larger than life. To leave it out of my writing would be like clipping the wings off an eagle, then still expecting her to fly.

JJ: Tell us about your own experience with a haunted house and how that relates to your book.

DL: The story for AHD came to me while visiting with a friend who claimed to have lived in a haunted house, not too far from my own home, when he was a kid. Always fascinated with a good ghost story, I was even more thrilled knowing the house was nearby. He took me to see it, and while visiting the small, abandoned home, I found out the structure was only half of a larger home.

As the story goes, an oil company who purchased the property the home was originally built upon years ago gave a local contractor the home. The contractor, knowing he would not be able to get the rent he needed for such a large house, decided to cut the house in half, remodel the halves, then rent each structure separately. He accomplished his goal, for both halves were rented the moment the remodeling was complete. However, strange things began to happen to the families who moved into each structure. According to my friend, cabinet doors opened and closed on their own, utensil drawers flew open, lights in the kitchen turned on and off, the sound of children and a woman crying late at night. Chairs rocking on their own.

I didn't see or feel anything in the abandoned home of my friend and took his accountings of the paranormal events with a grain of salt. Still curious, however, I searched out the other half of the home, found it across town, and had the opportunity to speak to the single mother who lived there with her three children. When I told her why I was there, she actually seemed relieved and invited me inside. For over an hour, she recounted all the weird things that had been happening in the house since she'd moved in a year ago. Many of those events mirrored the ones my friend had told me about.

Although I didn't experience any phenomenon in either half of the house first hand, the stories generated enough fuel to set my imagination in motion, which eventually led to my latest novel.

Posted by joshilyn at June 12, 2006 1:10 AM
Comments

ohhhhh, that trailer is too spooky!
It is wonderfully different. The only thing that bothers me, and this may seem silly...but it puts faces to characters. To me deciding what the characters look like is half the fun. If you see this trailer before reading the book, you can't help but see these actors as the characters in the book.

Posted by: desi at June 12, 2006 10:29 AM

I do need to become a DLB groupie. Her writing is right up my warped and spooky alley.

Thanks, Joss.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at June 12, 2006 10:58 AM

First of all, yes, I believe in the blinding adoreableness of Maisy and her magic purple dress.

The trailer: I went. I watched both versions. I also saw the other kinds the other times.

My opinion: I still like the music video-ish one the best. The shorter version of this live-actor one is my second favorite, followed by the longer version, with the excerpt/still shot images one stil being my least favorite.

What I liked about the music video-ish one was that it gave me only about as much information as I'd see on a jacket blurb, but it established a mood - gave me a sense of the FEEL of the story without actually giving anything away.

These live actor ones were interesting, but for me they felt a bit too much like movie trailers and one problem I have with movie trailers is that they often show too much - they show you the best parts of the story before you go see the whole thing. These seemed to me to err just a bit on the side of "too much information", particularly the longer version. It's a bit like what desi said above - if I watch a trailer showing me exactly what the house looks like, what actors the author would choose to play the people, it detracts just a teeensy bit from the experience of a book unfolding in my mind without preconceived notions of what people or places are "supposed" to look like. Minor quibble though - wouldn't stop me from buying the book if I thought the description sounded interesting. (And this does!)

The author-read excerpt/still images style is one that just didn't capture my interest at all. I might read a book despite that style trailer, but not because of it.

So far, the only trailer that would actively encourage me to buy the book is the cryptic music video style one.

Posted by: DebR at June 12, 2006 11:05 AM

SCREAM, scream, scream!!!!!!!!!!
Why didn't you tell us you were going to be on Atlanta & CO???
I just so happened to leave the TV on & went about my business, I walk back into the room and what do I see? A hu-mon-gus blow up screen with giA! So I stop, scream & say, "OH NO SHE DIDN'T"!
AND THEN there you were, sitting there, big as day! your a *STAR*!
I love,love, love that you identify yourself as a southern writer.
That was a great interview! YOU GO GIRL!

Posted by: desi at June 12, 2006 11:26 AM

I just saw you on Atlanta and Company! I have heard so much about you from my cousin Amy-go, so it was great to see you. Wonderful interview, and I look forward to your new book. Maybe we can meet, if we get Amy back in Atlanta!

Posted by: susan at June 12, 2006 11:47 AM

I saw a display of paperback Gods in my B&N on Sunday in St. Paul, MN. Sorry, I wasn't aware of the assigned mission, so didn't have a camera handy.

Posted by: Carrie at June 12, 2006 10:37 PM

Is it just me or is the girl in the advert's left hand a veritable Rorschsch test? Is it a slug of some sort? Is it the turtle you can draw for admission into art school? Do small children really do things like that with their fingers?

Posted by: debra at June 12, 2006 10:58 PM

First of all, that is OBVIOUSLY a magic purple dress and Maisy's going to win some sort of award for sheer adorableness!

Secondly, we have giA on display at the shop, and if you'd like photos of both the hardcover and paperback edition displays, just shout and I'll send them right on out.

Third, I have a confession to make. I love trailers for movies. I really do. No idea why, but I do, so I really enjoyed the long trailer for "A House Divided". By the time I read the book, I suspect I will have forgotten the faces so I can superimposed the ones I want. So yes, I enjoyed this trailer, but I really like all the clever websites for books. One I really enjoy is Robert Ferrigno's "Prayers for the Assassin", which is an online newspaper of the world he created. What can I say? I'm a sucker for clever, and Deborah's is definitely clever!

Posted by: Fran at June 13, 2006 12:55 AM