Before I welcome Rochelle today I just have to share a funny thing that happened last week. I was sitting on my bed relaxing, my normal indoor reading spot, when my husband came in to the room to check on our sick kitty, Sherlock, who was snuggled up by my side. I was reading Rochelle’s book, Bruja Brouhaha. He said ”What The Hell Are You Reading?” Is that even in English?”
I replied “It’s a really good book and you’d better behave or I’ll have the Bruja hex you but good!” he laughed and said “Sorrrrryyyyyy, I just didn’t get the title, I take it a bruja is a witch.” It was so funny, he left the room shaking his head, “I thought you were reading a mystery and you are reading about crazy witches.” He finished with, “I’ll be watching the Brewers or the Brujaewers, if you want to join me.”
I shared this with Rochelle and she said I had to share it with you.
I am so thrilled to welcome this wonderful author who used to call Wisconsin home back to Escape With Dollycas!
My latest novel, Bruja Brouhaha, opens after psychologist/sleuth Liz Cooper prepares homemade tamales under the tutelage of elderly Lucia Rojas. Liz’s tamales are a smashing success at the anniversary gathering in the Rojas apartment with a group of friends that includes her new love, professor Nick Garfield. Bravo to Lucia for coaxing nondomestic Liz into the kitchen.
Liz’s resistance to cooking is suspiciously close to mine. It’s not that I don’t know how to cook. I do. Give me a recipe and I’ll follow instructions to the letter. When I’m looking for creative distraction I head to the kitchen to whip up a killer batch of brownies.
As a writer I find food an excellent tool for metaphor, tickling the readers’ senses of taste, sight, and smell. A heady meal literally adds flavor, provides comfort, or brings sustenance to a scene. Regional foods help establish setting. Haute cuisine or junk food preferences define character. And then there’s food humor. One of my favorite quips in Bruja Brouhaha involves banquet chicken. I love banquet chicken.
However, food isn’t at the core of the mystery genre I write. I don’t attempt to compete with the amazing culinary mystery authors of today like Jenn McKinlay, Avery Aames, Julie Hyzy, Krista Davis, Sheila Connelly, Cleo Coyle and the legions of other wonderful writers in the subgenre. Me? I get my kicks by cooking up fictional rituals, spells, curses, and hexes to flavor my occult-themed mysteries.
The rituals I develop for the Mind for Murder Mystery series are pure fiction seasoned with common (or not so common) interpretations, and blended by my imagination. Like cooking a meal, pulling all the ingredients together is part of the fun. For example, to create a spell I seek the perfect candle color like white for purity, pink for romance, red for passion, or green for money. Adding the right oil to stir the subconscious, like amber for protection, lemongrass for good luck, eucalyptus for healing, vanilla for lust. And then filling the room with the scent of burning incense—perhaps lavender for divination, patchouli for magic, sage for cleansing, or jasmine for prophetic dreams—to seduce spirits. I’m cautious with my mystical recipes, lest anyone be supernaturally burned. But you can be certain when the spells/hexes/rituals are simmering, Liz and Nick stumble into a pot of trouble.
Am I the only reluctant food chef around? Is your kitchen a creative workshop or do you get-the-meal-done-and-run?
Thanks for dropping by Rochelle! Jeff says to tell you Brujawers won that night I hope you will visit again soon!
About This Author
Rochelle Staab is the national bestselling, Anthony and Agatha Award-nominated author of the Mind For Murder Mystery series on Berkley Prime Crime. Bruja Brouhaha, her second novel featuring Los Angeles psychologist Liz Cooper and occult specialist Nick Garfield, was released on August 7. Rochelle, a Wisconsin native, is a former Top 40 radio programmer and music industry marketing/advertising executive living in Studio City, CA.
(A Mind for Murder Mystery)
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (August 7, 2012)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Cover Illustration by Blake Morrow
Cover Design by Diane Kolsky
Paco and Lucia Rojas own the historic Botanica Rojos near MacArthur Park and are devout Santeria practitioners who mix up potions for many rituals like love, success and safety. They have gathered with their friends to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Lucia is also teaching Liz how to make tamales.
The party comes to an end quickly when tragedy strikes. a devastated Lucia lashes out at the community by casting a vengeful hex on the entire neighborhood. They quickly give her the label of “Bruja” – Spanish for witch. Soon this elderly woman is alone with the exception of her friends Nick and Liz. They need to protect her and get to the bottom of a lot of strange happenings in the community including a murder and a missing person before more lives are lost.
This author has a way of writing that just draws you in and holds on tight. The setting for this story really drove the mystery.
A close knit community dealing with a few unscrupulous residents and some rival gangs members looking for trouble. The residents rally together to help Lucia showing the such strong friendship, putting themselves in danger to save her and her Botanica.
I also was drawn by the education we receive about a religion I knew nothing about. The beliefs and practices of a Santeria priestess were very interesting.
While Nick is an expert in the occult I do not classify these stories as paranormal. Like most readers Liz is not savvy to all these different beliefs so we can feel as if we are learning right along with her. She definitely learned more from Lucia than how to make a great tamale.
The romance between Liz and Nick hit a few bumps this time out. I would call them growing pains as there relationship grows the trust in one another has to grow as well. The way this is written makes the characters so real and easily identifiable. Character development is perfectly paced.
I have to say I really enjoyed the character of Lucia. A strong woman suffering a devastating lost. It takes her time to come to grips with the many changes in her life. She did have a little help holding her back from accepting the truth but as a reader seeing her come out even stronger after her ordeal was inspiring.
Just like the first installment the clever plot spiced with a little humor made this a perfect cozy. I can’t wait to see where the author takes us next! According to Amazon Hex on the Ex (A Mind for Murder Mystery) hits stores May 7, 2013.
Want to Win a Copy of Bruja Brouhaha!
Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!
U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.
Answer Rochelle’s Questions for 5 Bonus Entries !
Am I the only reluctant food chef around?
Is your kitchen a creative workshop or do you get-the-meal-done-and-run?
If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End August 29, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.