Friday, July 01, 2005

Currently winging her way through the Girlfriends' blogosphere is Deborah LeBlanc. And in case you think Girlfriend books are just sugar and spice and everything nice, Deborah's latest, Grave Intent, is a spine tingling horror/mystery/thriller blend. Paul Goat Allen of Ransom Notes likens Grave Intent to "a wild roller coaster ride through the seven levels of Hell that doesn't stop until readers are all suitably slack jawed in shock and delirious with all-consuming fear. In a word: Awesome!" Deborah has also created a literacy challenge which you can participate in here.

I had the opportunity to ask Deborah a few questions about her process. Here is our conversation...

--What inspired this book? What inspires you, in general?

As a management consultant, I happened upon funeral service about ten years ago in a business capacity and wound up falling in love with this unique and fascinating industry. Death of a loved one is certainly one of the most tragic events we experience as human beings. The weight of that loss can be so profound, we're often blinded to the lengths some funeral professionals go to in order to ease our suffering. True, there are some funeral directors I've met who may have better served society as a diesel mechanic or taxidermist, but overall they work with diligence and compassion.

Funeral directors, embalmers, and funeral home hostesses normally have a strong passion, or "calling" if you will, for helping the bereaved. I admire them immensely, for some of the issues many of them have to deal with regarding unruly family members, drunken clergy, and horrid conditions of the deceased, would cause the rest of us to run for cover. What truly goes on behind funeral home doors and the stories funeral directors never tell to outsiders, would keep bookshelves stocked for years. Grave Intent is, in part, one of those stories.

In general, unique ideas and the strange twists life takes at times inspires me. :)

--Could you give us a window into your writing process?

My writing process varies, depending on the deadline I'm working under or the urgency I feel in my gut to hurry up and get the story out. I write every day, but the amount of time depends on what else is going on that day and what sort of deadline I'm facing. Minimally, I'll write two hours a day, but I've been known to stick to that keyboard 14-16 hours at a stretch.

--Any words of advice for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Write ,write, write. AND NEVER GIVE UP!

--How did you come up with the idea for your literacy challenge?

Believe it or not, the LeBlanc Challenge was not set up to be a promotional device.

Last year, while on a national book tour, I had the opportunity to visit numerous bookstores and chat with some of their customers. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to realize that many patrons visited the bookstores because of the adjoining coffee shop. Yes, a few individuals would browse through the bookshelves, maybe flip through a magazine or two, but many of them left empty handed. Whenever I asked one of these coffee-only browsers, "Who's your favorite author?" or "What do you enjoy reading?" the most common response was, "Oh, I don't read much anymore." Even worse, if they were under the age of twenty-five, the response was usually, "I don't like to read."

To say I was disheartened by this seemingly endless tide of non-readers, would be a gross understatement. So I decided to do something about it. In essence, the literacy challenge was a device specifically created to help increase reader pool. Promotion is just a by-product of the effort.

--I always ask a fruit-related question, since my blog is named Fruitful.
Because you're a horror writer, I thought I should ask: What do you consider
the most horrific fruit, and why?

The most horrific fruit for me is what I can not see, understand, and/or control, especially if it has the potential to harm children.

Thanks so much, Deborah! Best of luck with the rest of your tour!

For those of you inspired by Deborah's literacy challenge, I want to mention another great site--The Literacy Site, where you can click for free every day to donate books to children who might not otherwise have books in their homes. At the same site, you can click for free to combat hunger, breast cancer, and rainforest depletion, provide health care for children, and rescue abandoned animals. The site is an every day stop for me.

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