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!
I’m excited to be back at Dollycas again. Thank you so much for inviting me!
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?
Read the first chapter of Bruja Brouhaha and sign up for my newsletter at: http://rochellestaab.com
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.
Comments on “Cozy Wednesday with Author Rochelle Staab (Giveaway too!)”
I love to cook. I love to try new recipes. It’s the clean-up that gets me. Dee
I am so glad Rochelle stopped by, excited to hear about her new title!
I guess I am more of a get in and out and done cook, especially those daily mealtimes! I wish I had more time to be creative and flipping by the Food Network never helps! It’s always nice to think I could produce the same results here at home!
I have to be in the mood to cook, I like to try new things. My husband really enjoys cooking and is really good at coming up with his own recipes.
Sorry, I’m a chef without a restaurant to call my own. I love to cook, and taught not only my own 4 kids but many of their friends.
Waving ‘hi’ at Deanna, Holden, Lisa, and Nora-Adrienne! Thank you for stopping by.
I’m still laughing about “is that even in English?” And Lori, please tell your hubby that from now on I’ll think of the Brewers as the Bruja-ewers.
I’m going to share a secret with all of you. My publisher Berkley Prime Crime approves all titles and can change a title if they want to. I recently submitted my third novel to my editor, but until this morning when Lori posted the link, I had no idea that Berkley accepted my working title—HEX ON THE EX—as the final title! I’m so excited, I love the title.
So thanks for the nice little gift, Dollycas 🙂
Rochelle, you are definitely not the only reluctant food chef around! Meet Chef Reluctant #2… Our kitchen is the get-the-meal-done-and-run variety. Although, my grandmother was an excellent cook, and I did inherit some of her aptitude, the desire is simply not there.
It’s comforting to know I’m not alone, Elizabeth 🙂 Sometimes I wonder if I’m not a foodie because my grandmother and mom were very basic cooks. Frozen fish sticks were about as experimental as we got at home. ~Rochelle
More fun stuff about Bruja Brouhaha! Thanks for sharing-JoAn
I’m not much of a cook. I usually stick to what I know. Occasionally I’ll try something new but nothing too complicated because I’m scared of screwing up.
I enjoyed reading the interview. She definitely seems like a fun author. I’m a cook quick get out of the kitchen person. Always wanted to be the other type of cook. Oh well, it’s not happened yet.
Most of the time I’m a reluctant chef, too—but a couple times a year I get the bug and spend the whole day in the kitchen making all sorts of things.
I must say, on most days, I’m also a reluctant get-the-job-done-and-run cook. The only time I like to experiment with any type of cooking is around the holidays but I have to be “in the mood” to even do that.
I hate my kitchen – it is very small and bearly room for two. So I am a very reluctant chef. I have not baked in a bit but when I do, I don’t use milk so it forces me to be creative.
Sorry for the delayed response. I ran to Togo for a turkey wrap (in the spirit of the day I didn’t make my usual tuna sandwich for lunch .)
JoAn, thanks so much for stopping by.
Ashley, Hattie, Sue, and Amanda—yay! I’m not alone in my get-in-get-out kitchen routine.
I get experimental around the holidays too, especially with baking. Though I don’t watch the Food Channel, I’ll flip over there to see if the experts are creating spooky delights for Halloween, or a new twist on my favorite—Thanksgiving dinner.
Hi Rachelle! I have a fairly small kitchen too, and wonder if I’d be inspired by a gourmet-type layout.
Hate to cook but love to eat!! Deli food and take out at buffets is wonderful for single seniors.
Karen, deli food and take-out rule!
Thanks for your comment 🙂
I am definitely not the gourmet chef type. I cook only so we have something to eat, but I don’t really enjoy it.
And I only cook when I have to. About a month ago I cooked dinner with my date at his house. He did most of the work so I had a lot of fun. That sure doesn’t happen every day!
I love to cook….
Kelly, you get an ovation! You’re the first to express the joy of cooking here today. Do you love it for the creativity, the gratification, or because it stirs your senses?
I get it done and run unless it is a special occassion. Then I go hog wild.
Love that, Laura 🙂
I’m not a cook but I can reheat with the best of them. Fortunately, my son loves to cook and experiment so I am usually well-fed.
Linda, a chef son? Lucky!
I’m a proud member of the Reheating Brigade. I can feed myself for a week on a pot of chili.
Rochelle~ I cook but I am not a chef. My kitchen is pretty small so I feel like its hard to store all the gadgets needed to cook gourmet style:) someday… I will have a bigger kitchen. Till then, I do my best.
Cyndee, it sounds like you have a good time cooking. I hope you get the big kitchen of your dreams, filled with gadgets. A culinary playground!
Thanks so much for coming by.
I occasionally try new recipes, but not as much as I did when our kids were at home. Mostly I make my favorites & I’ve accumulated quite a few over the years. I used to enjoy cooking a lot more than I do now. With just my husband & I, there are usually lots of leftovers & that’s fine with me (easy future meals)! I think I’m a lot like you, Rochelle 🙂
I think so, too, Barbara. Nothing like the easy-peasy, tried-and-true. I think I could eat the same thing every day and be happy, as long as I find a way to have french fries once a week or so. I have a feeling if I had a crowd to feed, I’d be more enthusiastic about dragging myself into the kitchen. So happy you stopped by to comment! ~ Rochelle
I used to love to cook. I looked in the cookbooks and tried out new things often but now have constant fatigue so when I fix something to eat it is done very quickly. I still love to look at cookbooks.
Carol, when I was a kid I would pour through the Settlement Cookbook, creating imaginary dinner parties. I still have (and use) my original Betty Crocker Cookbook from the 1970s when butter wasn’t a dirty word. Best recipes. But I’m all for fast and simple, like you. ~Rochelle
I don’t mind cooking but I do not like to cook things that take a lot of time. I am a get in and get out person
I don’t mind cooking but I hate the cleanup.
My mother was the best cook ever. She was born on a farm in Wisconsin in 1903 and fed us on stuff like Shrimp Creole, Chicken Paprikash and other wonderful dishes regularly and never cut corners. Our holiday meals were extraordinary. And she did it with ease and didn’t spend all day in the kitchen. I don’t know how she did it. She would take me out hunting Indian relics all day and then come home and whip up a gourmet meal. I can cook a little and the meals are actually good. But now that I am alone and have no one to cook for, there really is no joy in cooking. But I will certainly enjoy reading this book. I love reading about charms and spells and magic of all kind. I just wish it worked. 😉
Irene, it sounds like your mother was an amazing woman. What a wonderful childhood you must have had. And Indian relics! I grew up in Wisconsin and didn’t realize what a strong Indian culture surrounded us. How magical!
Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words.
I’m definitely a get-the-meal-done-and-run kind of gal! I love to eat but hate to cook! Your book looks great and I would love to win a copy!
I definitely get the meal done and get out of that kitchen, lol! I do not like to cook at all, so my kitchen is very plain. I would love to win a chef, lol!!
Your book sounds so awesome Rochelle, I hope I win it because I would LOVE to read it. It was wonderful hearing from you too.
P.S. Thank you Lori!
I actually caught my stove on fire once……. so I’m a little apprehensive to do much in the kitchen lol 🙂 But, I do like to cook and try new things. I’m actually a much better baker than chef 🙂
I like to cook if I have unlimited time and money…so I don’t do it often
I am a huge fan of cozy mysteries.
i’m a get-the-meal-done-and-run
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