Thursday, June 15, 2006

A House Divided Cannot Help But Be a Terrific Read

Hello, bloglings! Today we have another wonderful author interview with the lovely Deborah LeBlanc, author of the brand new novel, A House Divided. This one looks like a page-turner, and I can't wait to read it!

Having grown up in an old (Civil War era) house, this book plays into my deepest fears. Oh, my gosh. Just reading the summary gave me the chills! Clearly Deborah LeBlanc has a devilish imagination and a talent for drawing the most suspenseful scenarios imaginable. Go, Deborah!


Deborah LeBlanc was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, the oldest of three children. She grew up in Scott, a small town west of Lafayette, where she developed her earliest aspiration in life; to read every book in the town library. Her first short story was written in the second grade, a tale about a misfit mermaid who grew legs. Admonished for writing the story instead of doing an assigned arithmetic lesson, Deborah's teacher confiscated the pages, and as recompense for not following instructions, gave her an additional math lesson to complete. At the end of the school day, the teacher pulled Deborah aside. Fearing that she might be forced to do additional math, Deborah listened in amazement as the teacher told her she'd read the mermaid story, thought she was a wonderful storyteller, and encouraged her to continue writing. Though the pages of that story were never returned, Deborah has been writing ever since. And she still hates math.

After her school stints, Deborah married young to her childhood sweetheart. They chose to keep south-central Louisiana their home, wanting to surround their three daughters with the wonderful people and traditions so unique to their Cajun heritage.

Always drawn to a challenge, Deborah's work career revolved around male dominated industries. She served as a sales representative for an oil company, an executive vice-president for a transportation company, and eventually created two corporations of her own. One involving fuel, the other management consultation for funeral service.

Through the years, Deborah maintained an insatiable appetite for reading and writing. She is an active member of several writers groups and has won numerous awards from her colleagues and national writing associations.

Keith Lafleur thinks he's cut the deal of a lifetime. The huge old, two-story house is his for the taking as long as he can move it to a new location. It's too big to move as is, but Lafleur's solution is simple: cut it in half. He has no idea, though, that by splitting the house he'll be dividing a family, a family long dead, a family that still exists in the house . . .

Angelica Batiste is a young, mentally challenged woman with a unique gift. Her mind, no more advanced than a ten-year-old child's, sees things before they happen. Not only does she see them, she draws them with extraordinary perfection.

When Angelica moves into part of an old, two-story house with her cousin and a friend, her gift suddenly turns into a terrifying power she can not control. The house feeds it. The house needs it. And only death can make it stop.

Publishers Weekly
A House Divided Review
June 2006
"A series of haunting events--including bumps in the night, hundreds of dead birds on the lawn and a yard-spanning spider web… her emphasis on characters and their relationships make this an affecting spook story." (June)

Barnes and Noble.Com - Ransom Notes
A House Divided Review
June 2006
"Equal parts Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Rice and Stephen King - with a generous helping of jambalaya and crawfish pie - Louisiana born and bred horror maven Deborah LeBlanc's newest novel is a supernatural thriller… With just three novels under her belt (Family Inheritance, Grave Intent and A House Divided), LeBlanc has already amassed a huge cult following. Gruesome, creepy and chock full of jaw-dropping plot twists, LeBlanc's newest is, above all else, wildly entertaining." -Paul Goat Allen

Saranna & Spade
JS: Right off the bat LeBlanc feeds the storyline to you with a subtlety that makes the suffering palatable. Even desirable, as each new victim fuels your adrenaline, which keeps the hunger for more, twisting your stomach until the very end. I found LeBlanc's characters to be just as authentic as the Gumbo and Gator Bites that made the area a culinary capital. It did make me … empathize with a recovering community of survivors who find themselves again rocked by forces beyond their control. This book, although frightening, is all about family. It draws you in to feel like a distant relative…and it affects you long after you close the last page. Leblanc wields fear with the precision of a black knight. And, to tell you the truth, I went and kissed my sleeping kids after I finished reading A HOUSE DIVIDED.

SD: That opening chapter, it was hard-hitting and powerful. I felt such despair with every word. Ms. LeBlanc has a unique voice that pulled us right down into her world. The plot is paced well and there is always something happening, something to grab hold of your imagination and tingle your spine. I was very impressed with the characterization… genuine and real right from the beginning. She did an excellent job of helping the reader make that connection to these characters on a personal level. I agree with you that it was an excellent read. It was pedal to the metal from page one, and the author did a fantastic job maintaining a very real sense of foreboding with tension thick enough to cut with a knife. I do recommend it…

--Louisiana Libraries Magazine

"LeBlanc's prose is a flying leap into the labyrinth of madness. Her images are unforgettable."

--Publishers Weekly


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how
the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

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, offered a local contractor the house. All he had to do to own it free and clear was move the house off the property. 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, move it to residential lots in another town, remodel the halves, then rent each structure separately. He accomplished his goal, for both halves were rented the moment the remodeling was completed. 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.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes. Read, read, read--write, write, write--and never give up!

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?
A writing day for me begins at 5:30 a.m. with a huge mug of coffee. I normally give myself about a half hour to wake up, shower, and throw on a pair of jeans and t-shirt before hitting the office. Once there, and with a second mug of coffee at the ready, I go over the last two chapters I’ve written so I can get back into the flow of the story. Then I start pounding away at the keyboard. Aside from bathroom breaks and an occasional coffee refill or bottle of water and a sandwich, I steadily type away until 3 or so in the afternoon. By that time, every creative brain cell in my head feels like it’s turned to oatmeal. I print what I’ve written, add it to the growing stack on the corner of my desk, then tackle emails that have accumulated during the day. Around 6, I come up for air and head for the kitchen and dinner. If I’m lucky, the book will leave me alone long enough to have a decent meal, spend a little time with my family, then get a good night’s sleep. If it doesn’t, I’m usually back at the keyboard around 9 to work for a couple more hours.

The only thing that keeps me organized is my day planner and a to-do list. Without both, I'd be running in circles every day!

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing?
Holding that new book you've written for the first time.
The most frustrating? Rewriting and dealing with the business end of publishing.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not,
what else is in the works?
I don't think there will be a sequel to A HOUSE DIVIDED. Right now, I'm putting the finishing touches on a book that will be released in June of '07. It's called MORBID CURIOSITY, and it's about twin sixteen-year-old girls, who, wanting to be popular and wealthy, get involved in chaos magic and sigils. Little do they know that the biggest thing they'll be wishing for--is their lives.

Thank you so much, Deborah! You can read an excerpt of this suspenseful novel here, at Deborah's site.

And then you may buy a copy of A House Divided from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or get your very own AUTOGRAPHED copy from Shocklines.

Read this one with the lights on!