Welcome to our delightful guest, author Loretta Wheeler. Today she will share some of her intuitive and sensory experiences, as well as the steps she has taken in her writing journey.
1. Loretta, after visiting your website, I am very excited to learn more about your writing journey. You describe research in the French Quarter for your first book. Could you tell us a bit more about that process and how you developed your plot and characters?
Good morning Dames, thank you for having me:)
The plot for “The Midnight Dance/The Devereaux Chronicles” was originally a story I had outlined and decided to develop into an online story in which other writers could participate. I gave them guidelines, but allowed them to write their characters as they wished. As time passed though, I decided to close the site as I found myself wanting to write the original version that I had envisioned.
As I moved further into the manuscript, I had difficulty visualizing one particular area and so I made a trip back to Louisiana for further research. It was then that I found I had written a story which in essence existed. I had visualized Laura’s Plantation almost exactly as it is, except for the upper floor. (The upper floor was the section I was having trouble picturing in my mind.) Upon taking the tour of the plantation I found the upper floor didn’t exist, but most of the aspects of my story did, including the people involved. So in a way, for me, the story became a story within a story. Of course I deviated in several areas where creative license took over, but the heart of the story was one that did exist.
I made several more trips to the French Quarter, gathering information about the quarter itself, the graveyards, particularly the one in which Marie Laveau is entombed, and even hired a Voodoo Mam’bo (Voodoo Priestess) to discuss aspects and practices of Voodoo.
“The Midnight Dance” has yet to find a home, but it did garner me a PRO position within the RWA when the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency approached me for a synopsis and a portion of the story.
2. You mentioned “returning” to the south, and it’s clear that you love your home there. Could you describe the setting where you live, and what your life is like in your current home?
For me, returning home not only meant returning to the United States, but also to the south, it is my love and inspiration. I live in a home surrounded by lush greenery, gardens filled with tropical plants, magnolias, and palm trees. Scattered between them are baskets of flowers and ferns that hang from the tree branches. There is a deck that wraps around the house, and at one side, a blue-eyed Jacuzzi that winks at me when I’m working, promising a dip inside— if I meet my agenda for the day. On the main deck I have a porch swing where I sit and have conversations with my Muse—they’re mostly silent, but if I feel the need for more open discussion, I fling myself back inside the house. I’m sure the neighbors would be quite relieved to know this. It is a home that is different from any other I’ve lived in. I’ve often said it’s like visiting Calcutta, very relaxed and kicked back—a place that makes you want to take your shoes off and sashay around barefoot—
3. What is your writing day like?
I’m one of those temperamental writers. My Muse is always hovering, but it isn’t until I get a big nudge that I run for the notepad and begin. Once I do begin, I’m obsessive. I can’t rest until I either finish the story if it’s a short piece or the basic outline if it’s longer. The only time I become more “typical” in my writing habits is when I face a deadline, so I’ve found that often I have to self-impose one.
4. I am very curious about your upcoming book, written under a pen name L. Reveaux. Is this newest book a big departure from your previous ones?
No, not really. “The Midnight Dance” is written under L. Reveaux, as is “Siren’s Call” which is releasing this winter in the L&L Dreamspell anthology Erotic Dreamspell. Most of my writing deals with the paranormal, and I write under the pen name L. Reveaux as frequently as I do my own name. When writing under L.Reveaux, it is an indicator that the content will be sexually graphic, use stronger language, or be a very dark piece.
“The Image” is an e-book due to release this summer as a series. It is the story of a not so typical haunting, set in Destrehan plantation in Louisiana. It involves a group of actors who are filming a movie on location, and the ghost who has chosen to remain on the plantation. The ghost has been waiting for the return of the one he loved, and has spent the last few decades devoting his time to the study of quantum physics. He has applied his study well, and has learned that sometimes—things aren’t what they seem—especially if one knows how to control them.
6. What childhood experiences had the most influence on your writing?
The childhood experiences that would have influenced my writing would be the sensual side of the south. The scent of gardenias would be one of the most prevalent. We had these planted outside of the bedroom windows, and their fragrance always accompanied you as you drifted toward sleep.
The sounds I recall most often were the buzzing of cicadas, the wind blowing through the trees, and the voices of people calling to each other, especially as evening descended. It was right before the time of air conditioning, and voices carried easily, quite often drifting inside other houses.
Last, animals were a strong part of my life. Some of my stories have animals in them, and I love it when one decides to accompany me inside one of my works. I’ve always had a strong bond with animals, and so writing about them is very pleasurable.
7. Do your characters lead the way in the development of the story, or do you create the plots first?
I would say it’s different each time for me. I have no idea if that’s common or not. Often I will hear of something and I see the characters, but other times I might be somewhere and have an idea for a story burst across my mind and I can’t get to a pen and paper quick enough.
8. If you were to describe the most influential persons or experiences that formed your life, what would they be?
I had to pause here because I had so many different thoughts cross my mind. My spiritual beliefs were first. That began at a very early age. I was raised in churches, but aside from that, I had a father who was “gifted” and I had/have some of the same attributes. I think that’s why I find it so easy to write about the paranormal. It’s always been a part of my life in one fashion or another.
Next, as I mentioned earlier, would be my love of animals. When my Muse and I get back on track with the remainder of “Dark Pleasures” (a prequel in the anthology “A Death in Texas”) the dog in the story will take on a role that is very unique. It will bring forward the concept that there is a form of telepathy that can occur between humans and animals.
People who influenced my life—one teacher in particular who did much more than teach what was on the written page. He taught us how to be—everything from kindness, to values, and how to find that glimmer of good in a person no matter how far gone they appeared.
A pastor, who not only taught us at a very young age how to study the deeper side of the Bible, but also taught us how to laugh, and savor life. He was the first to read a piece I had written, and decided to share it with the congregation. I realize my mentioning this appears to be a contradiction with the genre I write, but in my writing there are always two sides—the dark and the light—and always, the offer of redemption.
And of course the authors I read had a strong influence. Again, this came early, I was an avid reader. If I had nothing to read at the breakfast table, I would read the cereal box. I’ll make a stab at listing some of the authors, but I’m sure I’ll leave as many out as I list. There was Walter Farley and all his stories, beginning with “The Black Stallion” Jack London with “Call of the Wild” and his other works, Jim Kjelgaard’s “Big Red” and then eventually I moved on to the writing of Phyllis A. Whitney and Daphne du Maurier. From that point on I was over the cliff with all types of thrillers and horror. Stephen King and Anne Rice led the way, followed quickly by Dean Koontz. I could search my memory and come up with much more, but we’d be here quite awhile and I see there are several more questions (WG)
9. In your bio on your website, you mentioned the Inn in the French Quarter, and that it evoked a feeling of a “place long forgotten.” Would you elaborate on that a little bit?
The Inn made me feel as if I had returned to a second home, just with their welcome—but it was the French Quarter that evoked the feeling of a “place long forgotten.” It’s difficult to describe, but it was noticeable. I had a person who accompanied me for research, watch as I sat in one of the restaurants, totally at ease, more relaxed than normal, and they made the comment that it was as if I’d “come home.” I responded without hesitation, that yes, I was home. Each time I return, it feels the same, as if I’m where I belong. Call it deja vu or whatever you wish—I am home when I am there.
10. You mentioned sensory impressions that evoke feelings and memories. Do these kinds of moments find their way into your books, and do your characters also have these intuitive moments?
Yes, very much. Whether my character is just beginning, becoming “aware” for the first time, or whether they’ve always been aware, at least one of them is intuitive to some degree.
11. What additional family and/or childhood moments can you share with our readers?
I have two sons who have both excelled in their professions, and I have numerous grandchildren. This is my second marriage and so we’re very blended. I’m married to an Aussie man, and I swear there’s a book in that situation alone. I’d have to change genres though; it would definitely be humorous, with Erma Bombeck leading the way as my Muse. The communication around here is like watching one of those old “I Love Lucy” shows.
12. The Dames love animals. Do you have any pets, and if so, what can you share about them?
We have a gorgeous cat named Lil’ Dickens. He’s a stray that found his way to us, and he has beautiful markings. I borrowed his name (with permission of course 😉 and included it in “The Image.” He often wanders in and sits on my lap when I’m working on that particular manuscript. I’ll end on that note—there ya have it—telepathy purrsonified!
Thank you so much for joining us, Loretta. I am looking forward to reading your books.
Visit Loretta at: