Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Today's Guest Blogger Rochelle Staab

Welcome to Rochelle Staab, the author of WHO DO, VOODOO?, the first book in her new Mind for Murder mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime.

Tell us about your hobbies and books, Rochelle...

First I want to send a huge thank you to Linda O. Johnston for inviting me to share my killer hobby here today. What started as a mindless pastime ended up as a creative joy.

I’m a ripper. Not that kind. I claim no resemblance to the 19th century London killer. Nope, my ripping is focused on photos and articles from magazines, newspapers, or off the Internet. Clever sayings, cute outfits, furniture, oddities, recipes, holiday ideas, headlines, and quotes—if something catches my eye, I rip, cut, or tear it out to file for future inspiration.

My habit became a valuable tool as I wrote Who Do, Voodoo?, the first novel in my Mind for Murder mystery series. Being a visually oriented gal, I craved illustrations of my characters and settings beyond what I envisioned in my head. I began to scour catalogs, magazines, and the Internet for representations of the world of my story. If I spotted a brunette catalog model in an outfit my character Liz Cooper would wear, I tore out the page. I drove to actual locations used in the story and took photos. I even printed out the Internet sales page for dinnerware I used in a scene. And when my stack of tear-sheets grew unwieldy, I had the idea to create a Who Do, Voodoo?scrapbook.

The result was a cool and helpful keepsake. Each major character and theme, like voodoo, has a page. Each page holds photos of what my character might look like, how they might decorate their home, and oddities they might collect. The photos aren’t literal—Liz Cooper, Nick Garfield, Robin Bloom, and the rest of the gang don’t look exactly like the people on their scrapbook pages, but close enough.

And because my Who Do, Voodoo?scrapbook helped to spark my writing, I built another scrapbook for Bruja Brouhaha, the second novel in the series, and I’m in the process of starting a third.

An added bonus was the creative distraction I got from organizing the pages. I’m still learning how to add the frills that come with real scrapbooking. I could spend hours in the scrapbook aisle shopping for stickers and backgrounds.

When I hit a writing standstill the cross-creative activity of populating the scrapbook inspires me. When words won’t come, the plot is stuck, or the characters take an artistic break, I flip through magazines for photos and clever headlines to stimulate my imagination. The exercise reignites my creative right brain and gives my over-thinking, analytical left-brain a time out. And sometimes I just pull out the scrapbook as a reminder of how much I love working with my fictional pals. It’s my family album of characters. ~ Rochelle

Who Do, Voodoo?, the first novel in Rochelle Staab’s Mind for Murder Mystery series featuring Los Angeles psychologist Liz Cooper and Religious Philosophy Professor Nick Garfield was released by Berkley Prime Crime on November 1.

When Liz Cooper’s friend Robin Bloom discovers a threatening tarot card tacked to her front door, Liz writes the card off as a prank. Robin refuses to ignore the omen—two years ago her late husband drew the same card, the Three of Swords, in a tarot reading the night before he was killed in a car accident. As more cards and darker threats appear on Robin’s door, Liz realizes someone very dangerous is upping the ante. Her brother’s old college roommate, occult expert Nick Garfield, takes Liz into the voodoo community to locate the origin of the deck. Their search ends with a dead body and Robin becomes the prime murder suspect. Determined to clear her friend, Liz joins forces with Nick to unravel otherworldly secrets and seek help from beyond—or risk being outwitted by a cunning killer.

Rochelle Staab is an award-winning, former radio and music industry executive.
Visit her website at:

One lucky commenter will win a copy of WHO DO, VOODOO? (US residents only) Be sure to give a good email address.


Carol S said...

Welcome, Rochelle, your characters' scrapbooks sounds like a fabulous way to be visually involved in their lives. It makes perfect sense to me. Good luck with your new release!

Rochelle Staab said...

Thank you, Carol! I'm thrilled that Killer Hobbies gave me the opportunity to share what began as a whim and ended up as a really fun writing tool.

Dru said...

I love the idea of a character scrapbook.

I wish you much success on your new release.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Yet another great reason to scrapbook! Thanks for sharing, Rochelle.

Rochelle Staab said...

Joanna, I aspire to have your creative scrapbooking skills. You are the true expert. Thank you for letting me visit today!

Sue Farrell said...

What a great idea--I bet the scrapbook helps keep your descriptions consistent throughout the whole book, too.

VR Barkowski said...

I'm visual, too, Rochelle and do the same thing with settings. In addition to photos, I have floor-plans for all my major interior settings as well as site maps for important exterior locales. Same idea, but instead of a scrapbook, I keep everything digital in Scrivener.

No clothes though. :)

Terri Thayer said...

Welcome to KH, Rochelle! I love your idea of scrapbook pages for your characters. I once saw a woman in an airport that looked exactly like my character, Dewey. I wanted to take her picture and pin it to my desk but thought she might interpret that wrong!

Rochelle Staab said...

Hi Terry! You made me chuckle—I sneak photos of people who remind me of my characters or could be great new characters, all the time. And if taking a photo is obnoxious, I record a verbal description on my Voice Memo. As you might notice, I work well with visual cues. Thanks for coming by!

Janel said...

I've seen quite a few authors talk about doing scrapbooks and collages for their stories. My friend and I have also been talking about doing an online version using Pinterest.

Rochelle Staab said...

Oh Viva, I get lost on tangents into floor plans. Liz moves in the second novel and now I have to decorate all new rooms for the third. My camera is my friend. Saturday night I brought home 4 decorating mags (research )

Janel—Avery Aames has a site map of her fictional town on her website. So creative!

And yes, Sue—the scrapbook keeps me grounded for descriptions. If I see an actor who is close to my character visualization I go straight to Google images to print photos for the scrapbook. It's really fun.

NoraA said...

The more I hear about this book, the more I want to own it and read it. I hope I can be the lucky winner this time.

Jane Sevier said...

What a cool idea, Rochelle, and your scrapbooks can serve as a kind of bible for the series.

I'm not that hands-on . . . or maybe just not that organized. I use Evernote to clip photos and articles, but they're purely digital. I haven't figure out a way to put them together in anything half as attractive as your scrapbooks.

WDV is at the top of my TBR pile. Can't wait to delve into it!

Betty Hechtman said...

Welcome ti KillerHobbies, Rochelle. The scrapbooking idea sounds great. I rip stuff too, but I just stick it on a piece of poster board.

Rochelle Staab said...

Hi Nora! Thanks for stopping by!

Betty and Jane—I wasn't very organized either, but my pile of clips kept growing. Then one day (in order to avoid writing and yet do something writing related ) I put them all together and had a ball. The scrapbook grew from there. I'm starting a new one now for the third novel.