Cajun Faith Healer and
Author of Family Inheritance
By Jonathan Greer
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, she listened in amazement as the teacher told her she had 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 school stints, Deborah married 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.
Through the years, Deborah has 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.
JG: What was your background before you started writing?
Deborah: I have done a few different things. In the early 80’s I worked for oil companies as a sales-person. I don’t know if you know that much about the oil business, but a woman as a salesperson just didn’t happen back then. I then worked for a transportation company and became the first female vice president in the transportation industry. Later I started two transportation companies of my own. I have been very involved in the businesses I’ve run and they have been things I’ve known I had to do.
JG: What got you into writing?
Deborah: I have actually written short stories since elementary school. I found it so fascinating to dream up ideas and make something out of them. I really only wrote short stories until about five years ago when I decided this was something I had to do. I didn’t want to wake up down the road and not have at least tried. So I made up my mind to make the time, do the research, and actually write a novel.
JG: Is your work considered suspense or horror, and how did you fall into that genre, what drew you to it?
Deborah: It is actually a category called psychological suspense. I have always been interested in the mind and how it works. Especially the fact that we use such a small portion of our brains. We have so much untapped potential, and most people don’t really question this or even look into it. I feel like as humans we can really get in touch with our awareness and access things in our mind that most people think are impossible.
JG: One of the major themes you deal with is mental illness. Can you explain how you came to deal with this?
Deborah: Like I said before, I have always been interested in the mind and how it works. How people deal with different issues and how the mind protects itself in certain situations. I really struck on the theme after seeing some close friends go through severe mental illness with their daughter. It seemed like all the doctors wanted to do was throw a bunch of pills at her and not really deal with the problem. Through watching this situation, it became obvious to me that there has to be a better way to deal with mental illness.
JG: What is a treateur?
Deborah: A treateur is a cajun faith healer. And they are a dying breed. My grandmother was a trea-teur, as well as an older gentleman down the street. For minor ailments, sunstrokes, fevers, rashes, things like this, we would always go see either my grandmother or this older gentleman and they would fix us up. Some treateurs deal with only certain maladies while others will confront just about anything. I have even seen some amazing results with cancer patients who have used treateurs. But as I said, some of them feel more limited and only take on patients with certain ailments. It completely depends on the individual treateur.
JG: You are a treateur correct? And how did you come to be one.
Deborah: Yes, I am a treateur. In the treateur tradition, a man can only train a woman and a woman can only train a man. The older gentleman who was a treateur, died before I was old enough to really think about training as one. My parents did not practice the tradition, but when I was a bit older I saw this tradition was dying out. I searched around and eventually found a treateur who agreed to train me.
Being a treateur is a very individual thing. You have to be comfortable with yourself and do things you feel comfortable doing. One main thing is being able to “feel” or “see” what is wrong with someone. To do this you have to concentrate all your energy and awareness onto the person you are trying to heal. You have to open yourself and have faith. Faith is definitely a key point.
Once you find the problem, you have to take it upon yourself. This is something you must prepare yourself for because you have to be ready to take on this illness.
JG: Why do you believe it (faith healing) works?
Deborah: Well faith for sure is a large part. The bottom line is that we know so little about the mind and how it actually works. I do believe we are a part of something much larger than ourselves, and if we can tune in and truly let go of all preconceived beliefs, we are put in touch with what is true and real. By doing this people have been able to overcome all types of things, including sickness and disease.
JG: Why do you think society has gotten away from the spiritual aspects of healing and alternative medicine?
Deborah: For one thing everything in our world moves so fast now. Cars, airplanes, computers, TV, everything is going faster and faster. Another reason is that we have not been taught to recognize what is actually happening, or what we are actually feeling. So much emphasis is placed on everything else that we as humans have never really been taught to slow down and get in touch with what we are truly feeling and what those feelings mean.
JG: What can we do to move back towards the spiritual, the traditional healing practices that have worked for centuries?
Deborah: There are traditions in different cultures, whether it is faith healing or herbs or whatever, and these traditions have worked for hundreds of years. For us to completely ignore them now does not make a lot of sense. I don’t believe there is any one cure out there, or one particular way that “works.” I believe there are many different paths to health and healing. Each person has to get in touch with themselves and figure out what is right for them. Just like being a treateur is an individual thing, so is health and healing for each person.
JG: How does the writing process work for you?
Deborah: Well it starts out as an idea, and in the beginning I really think about it a lot before I am ready to begin putting it on paper. Once I have the idea pretty well worked out in my mind, then I sit down at the word processor and go to town. I have had many 12 or 15-hour days of sitting at the keyboard, trying to get it all down. Next of course is revision, rewriting, revision, you get the picture.
JG: What kind of research did you do for “Family Inheritance?”
Deborah: I am already a treateur so I really didn’t do too much
additional research on that aspect. I went to several insane
asylums, even a couple that were no longer in use and in some
disrepair, just to get the feel for such places. I met with doctors,
psychologists and others to gain more insight on mental illness.
Plus personal experience with friends and family who have gone
through the nightmare of mental illness. This really is a subject I
feel strongly about, and want people to know there are more options
for the mentally ill than just being medicated.
Published by Dorchester Publishing, you may order “Family Inheritance,” at Borders bookstores nationwide or online at www.dorchesterpub.com, and www.borders.com
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