Interview and Giveaway: Rochelle Staab, author of Who Do, Voodoo?

I’m so excited to have Rochelle Staab on the blog today! Rochelle is the author of the brand new (out today!!) mystery, Who Do, Voodoo?, and was kind enough to undergo my interrogation,er, interview, and talks about how she went from music exec to writer, voodoo, and who some of her fave writers are . I’m also offering a copy of Who Do, Voodoo? to one lucky winner so check out the giveaway deets at the bottom of the post.

Please welcome Rochelle to the blog!

Rochelle, even though you dreamed of becoming a novelist from a young age, you spent many years in the music industry, including Vice President of Advertising at Warner Bros. Records! How did the UCLA Writers’ Program convince you to finally take the plunge into serious writing?
I talked about writing a novel for so many years that one day I decided I had to take action or give up the dream. I heard about the UCLA Writers’ Program, signed up, and knew I was home the day I took my first writing class on campus. I couldn’t stop smiling. The nurturing, creative atmosphere along with the supportive instructors and fellow students sold me. I knew so little about the process that I just took direction and developed my craft one class at a time, from Intro To all the way through Novel IV. The experience felt like a series of first steps until I had almost an entire novel written. My time in the program and the friends I made there are priceless.

Your first novel, Who Do, Voodoo?, is out Nov. 1st. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Love to! Liz Cooper, a pragmatic Los Angeles psychologist who discounts the supernatural as a mental crutch, is unfazed the night her friend Robin finds an unusual tarot card on her front door. Liz writes the card off as a nasty prank. But Robin refuses to ignore the omen—her late husband drew the same card, the three of swords, in a reading the night before he was killed in a car accident.

When more cards and darker threats appear on Robin’s door, Liz realizes someone very dangerous is upping the ante. She contacts her brother’s former college roommate—occult expert Nick Garfield—who takes Liz into the voodoo community to locate the origin of the tarot deck. But in light of Liz and Nick’s hunt for the harasser, Robin becomes a murder suspect. Determined to clear her friend, Liz steps straight into the path of a voodoo curse and a cunning killer.

What’s one of your most unusual writing quirks?
Quirks? Ah, I see you know a lot of writers. I admit I get so lost in the story that I wake up thinking every day is the day of the scene I’m writing. I can be in a Sunday frame of mind every day for a week if that’s where my characters are. Or celebrating Friday with them on Monday. My calendar is loaded with appointment alerts to snap me back to reality.

What are some of your biggest literary influences/faves?
Like so many female authors I’ve met, my love affair with mystery started with Nancy Drew. I devoured the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and P.G. Wodehouse. I spent an entire summer reading Dashiell Hammett and another summer reading Raymond Chandler, both geniuses at displaying setting as character. I read all of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series in order; Peters influenced my desire to write a series. Lately I’ve been reading Michael Connelly and Harlen Coben. And in between, I like to read new mysteries by authors I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know like Cleo Coyle, Avery Aames, Liz Lipperman, Kari Lee Townsend, and Hank Phillippi Ryan.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
Three books for three different purposes: For pleasure, Barbara Michaels’ Ammie, Come Home. For research, Mike Blake’s Baseball Rituals, Superstitions, and Oddities. And for inspiration I’m rereading Anne Lamott’s wonderful writing book, Bird By Bird.

In your bio, you mention a tour of the New Orleans French Quarter inspired the voodoo elements of your novel. Can you tell us a bit more about your visit?
An amazing day! I hired a voodoo priestess for a private tour of the French Quarter. As we strolled, my guide gave an architectural and cultural history of New Orleans, street by street, including the French, Spanish, and Creole influence on New Orleans’ voodoo. Deep inside the Quarter, she escorted me beyond the commercial front counters of voodoo shops into mysterious back rooms, voodoo sanctuaries, and outdoor ritual sites. She closed the tour at Marie Laveau’s mausoleum in St. Louis Cemetery #1, said to be the most haunted tomb in the world. I watched her spit whiskey on the tomb to honor Laveau and we both left a trinket behind to please the ghost. Just before we exited the cemetery, the priestess had me toss nine pennies over my shoulder to keep restless spirits occupied—else they commandeer our souls and follow us out. The sanctuary in WHO DO, VOODOO? combines elements from those sanctuaries we visited that day.

If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
Put me on a jet to visit the pyramids of Egypt or Teotihuacan, Mexico; or the Parthenon in Greece. I have an Indiana Jones thing going on—an awe of the architecture, symbols, rituals, and beliefs of ancient civilizations. The older, the better.

Name something that makes you laugh out loud?
The adventures of my misspent youth. My deepest belly laughs come from sitting with my oldest friends recapping our exploits. It’s a miracle we reached adulthood unscathed and fairly respectable.

Is there any advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Yes, without hesitation: Write every day. I know the advice seems simplistic, I thought so the first time someone gave it to me. But you develop your craft—voice and style—with practice. If writing is your passion, you won’t want to stop. Above all, write to entertain yourself. And read every day—good novels are inspiring, bad novels are instructive.

Do you have any news of upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share with us?
Before I do, I want to thank you so much for interviewing me! Today is an incredibly special day for me—the release date for WHO DO, VOODOO?—and the culmination of a dream. The complete list of events and appearances surrounding release is on my website. WHO DO, VOODOO? is the first in the Mind For Murder mystery series and I’m already excited about the second, BRUJA BROUHAHA, set for release next summer.

Keep up with Rochelle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Read my review of Who Do, Voodoo?
*Rochelle is on tour, and you can check out her tour schedule HERE!

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**

1. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Who Do, Voodoo? by Rochelle Staab to 1 winner.
2. Giveaway is open Internationally (wherever The Book Depository ships)
3. To enter, please leave a comment or question for Rochelle with your email address (if you put your email address in the form, it’s not necessary to include it in the body of your comment). Following the blog is not necessary, but is ALWAYS appreciated.
4. If you follow this blog (via GFC or Facebook) please let me know in a SEPARATE COMMENT and I’ll give you ONE extra entry.
5. If you follow Rochelle on Twitter, let me know for ANOTHER extra entry (for a MAX total of 3 entries)
6. Giveaway ENDS 11/8/11

46 Comments:

  1. Rochelle, what a great interview. I feel like I learned so much more about you here. I can’t wait to read Who Do, Voodoo?

  2. i just put this on hold at the library, but i would love my own copy! this looks really good, i enjoyed the interview and the review of it!

  3. Hi,

    Did you do any research into Voodoo other than taking the tour?

    sgiden at verizon.net

  4. GFC follower as SandyG265

  5. Rochelle, one of these days I need to take that tour. Plus the restaurant one. I’m looking forward to reading Who Do, Voodoo? very much.

    NoraAdrienne (at) gmail (dot) com

  6. Follow on GFC NoraA
    Follow your blog on FB
    Follow Rochelle on Twitter @NoraAdrienne

  7. Thanks for coming over, everyone! Love seeing you here.

    Sandy—yes. I did a ton of voodoo research. I scoured the Internet for sites (I found and read a lot), I bought and read several books on voodoo. Some of the books were excellent, others very confusing. Voodoo is a complex system, structured much like the Roman and Greek pantheon on gods. The most interesting books I read were on the African origins of voodoo. Plus, I found spell books, and read specific articles on New Orleans voodoo history. I watched the few voodoo based old movies I could find. The New Orleans tour was significant because of the guide and the people she introduced me to.

    Nora—when you’re ready to go on the tour, drop me an email. I’ll send you a link to her site.

  8. Wonderful contest! Thank you so much! The interview is great and the book likes like a wonderful read.

  9. I follow you by GFC
    I follow Rochelle on Twitter, @GMTABOOKCLUB

  10. Definitely sounds like an interesting book, going to have to pick it up! My TBR pile is growing all the time, seems like I can’t make a dent in it!

  11. I follow via GFC and FB

  12. This seems like a very interesting book. I loved the interview! 🙂

  13. I am a GFC follower!

  14. oops i follow!! gfc – alainala

  15. I love the cover and the plot of this book 🙂 edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  16. GFC Krystal Larson fb Lindsay Ann follow you 🙂

  17. Rochelle,

    what do you read when you’re relaxing????

    thank you for this giveaway!!!

  18. i follow via GFC as cyn209……..

  19. I really wanna read this one!! Love the cover there’s a black cat!!! 😀

  20. Who Do, Voodoo sounds like a fantastic book, I love the mix of mystery and paranormal.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  21. Kitty, Reanna, Veronica, Krystal, Kait, and Barbara—thanks so much! I loved guesting here. Great group.

    Cyn—right now I’m reading Barbara Michaels’ eerie 1968 AMMIE COME HOME. I’m a big Elizabeth Peters fan (Barbara’s alter ego) and heard great things about this old story. Wow. Chilling. Recently I was on a Michael Connelly tear from The Lincoln Lawyer to Harry Bosch (I get a craving for “guy lit” sometimes) and before that I read Liz Lipperman’s LIVER LET DIE, a hilarious cozy mystery. I’ll read all over the sub-genre map, but my core genre is 90% mystery.

  22. Oh my, I adore the book cover! I mean, what’s there not to like? An old library, books and candles, and a cat to keep your feet warm while reading 😉 !
    Very curious about the book, so thanks a lot for this chance!

    danaan at gmx dot at

  23. Interesting interview.

    I think we all feel we know Rochelle a bit now.

    Have you given any thought to your next book as yet ?

    If so can you give us some inkling?

    I am very interested in Voodoo although a bit sceptical about some of the claims made about it.

    I look forward to reading your book.

    Carol T

  24. I follow via GFC – buddyt

    Carol T

  25. The book sounds great! And sadly, even without writing, I sometimes forget what day it actually is.

    Look forward to reading your book!

  26. I follow on GFC as TommyGirl

  27. I love this group. You guys are fun!

    Carol—Thanks for asking! Here’s an inkling of the second novel coming summer, 2012: BRUJA BROUHAHA is set near historic MacArthur Park, where mayhem, a puzzling disappearance, and a vindictive hex put Liz and Nick into the core of Santeria culture (Cuban voodoo.)

  28. This sounds like an awesome book – thanks for the giveaway!!!

  29. Follow on Facebook – Katy Sozaeva.

  30. This sounds like a terrific new series and I would LOVE to win a copy of this book!!! Thanks for a great interview and a terrific giveaway:)

  31. GFC follower: Julie Witt

  32. Twitter follower: @jwitt33

  33. Great interview again hon. I love that you went from being in the music industry to the writing novels. Did you listen to music while writing this? Does music play any part in your book? I always wanted to go on the tour the New Orleans French Quarter. I was born in Louisiana and I haven’t been there in forever. I would love to be there especially during the tour. I love the places you listed to visit. I am so with you, the architecture and the symbols and all, it will definitely be a sight to see. Thank you guys so much for the great interview and giveaway.

    • Diana, thank you! I don’t listen to music while I write but music definitely plays a role in my writing. I think musical tastes are very character defining. Nick is a huge blues fan and Robin works for an entertainment agent who represents music acts. I had to weave a concert and after party into the plot—it felt like old home week to me.

      My trip to New Orleans was tied to the music industry. I was in New Orleans because one of the WB artists was the closing act on the main stage that Sunday night. I had all day Saturday to myself so I scheduled the tour. What an amazing weekend that was.

  34. Twitter follower:
    @harleyquinn0887

    Thanks so much again 🙂

  35. cant wait to read it love the cover my cat looks just like that lol

  36. A wonderful interview & I am loving the cover.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

  37. GFC: Mary Preston

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

  38. interesting, love to win this book

    thank you

  39. follower and like your facebook

  40. Wow! Your tour of the New Orleans French Quarter sounds spooky, but very intriguing. Spitting whiskey on a tomb, throwing 9 pennies over your shoulder to ward off spirits- I imagine such an experience would make anyone’s imagination run wild. Your book sound fascinating!

    Extra entries:

    GFC follower: Identity seeker
    Facebook: Sarah Bibi Setar
    Rochelle’s Twitter follower: @SweetNSensible

    sarahDOTsetarATgmailDOTcom

  41. Sounds great! I’ve a feeling I’ll really enjoy Who Do, Voodoo?

  42. I’m a GFC follower, name of Spaz. 🙂

  43. Waving “hi” to everyone! Thank you for coming by.

  44. So proud of you, Rochelle! The book is sensational. New York Times Best Seller then a PULITZER! See you Thursday love’ Jill

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