Author interview, paranormal mystery
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Tag! Hoodoo, Voodoo, and a Lethal Obituary

paranormal mystery urban fantasy

The new cover for The Alchemical Detective, Book 2 in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries/urban fantasies

I try not to talk about myself too much on this blog, except to mention when I’ve got a new book coming out (and I’ll be at Clockwork Alchemy in May, and hey, did you see the new cover for The Alchemical Detective?). But I was recently tagged in a blog tour by Kassandra Lamb, writing about what she’s learned about writing. Kass writes psychological mysteries based in Baltimore. She asked me to answer the four following question:

1.  What am I working on now?
2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3.  Why do I write what I do?
4.  How does my writing process work?

But I’m going to reverse the order. And work in a cocktail recipe.

How does your writing process work?

Here’s the way it’s supposed to work: Once my rough outline is written (it changes during the writing), I write every weekday morning until I get 3,500 words. Usually, I’m done by early afternoon, and that’s when I work on marketing my books and editing my prior W.I.P. Once I’ve finished a first draft, I set it aside for at least a month. During that time, I work on new writing projects. And research happens when it happens, as I’ll explain in a minute.

But often, life gets in the way and I don’t always hit my writing goals.

Why do you write what you do?

paranormal mystery urban fantasy

The Obituary cocktail was invented at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans and is as lethal as it looks.

I like to write books that are an escape, because reality is what we see when we wake up in the morning. It’s always there. I’ve got nothing against it – in fact, I’m quite happy to be in it. But books take us elsewhere, and I’d like to take readers somewhere magical.

For example, I just got back from New Orleans where I was  picking up the flavor of the city for The Hoodoo Detective. There, my heroine, Riga samples an Obituary cocktail. In the interests of book research, I went to the bar that invented the Obituary to sample one. I think it turned some of my hair white.

The Obituary

2 ounces gin
1/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce absinthe [Tweet this!]

I am a slave to my muse. (Cough).

But it wasn’t all fun and cocktails. I write paranormal into my stories because I think it’s fun and interesting. So while I was in New Orleans, I also conducted metaphysical and magical research. Did you know that in New Orleans, to be able to call yourself a voodoo queen you have to be at least a second generation voodoo practitioner? [Tweet this!] And hoodoo is rooted in Cajun magical culture, but it is strongly influenced by voodoo. [Tweet this!] Although hoodoo isn’t “from” New Orleans, going there helped me understand its history a bit better. It wasn’t until I actually started talking to people in the know that the sky cleared. Sometimes books and Internet research just aren’t enough. 

How is your work different from others in your genre?

In my Riga Hayworth series the detective is a bit older – in her mid-40s – and so is dealing with different issues than the usual youthful kick-ass urban fantasy heroine. As to my Steampunk series, I decided to set it in Gold Rush California rather than stuffy, musty England. I mean aside from Stonehenge, and Roman artifacts, and aristocrats, and scones… Oh, and clotted cream… What has England really got?

The Gold Rush period was a crazy time, when women were forced outside their usual social roles. And with a young female heroine, I thought it made a certain sense to throw her into that stew and force her to grow. Also, I grew up near San Francisco, so at least I have first-hand knowledge of the terrain, which comes in handy when world-building. That said, I’ve bowed to the genre and the heroine is English.

What are you currently working on?

Multiple projects at once! I’ve started book 2 in my Steampunk series. I’m also editing a paranormal cozy mystery: The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum.

The rough draft of The Hoodoo Detective, which is book 6 in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries/urban fantasies, is finished and on a shelf, fermenting, before I edit it next month. Riga’s back on the Supernatural TV reality show and in New Orleans. But when the show turns into a snooze, she gets teamed up with a COPS-style reality show and its arrogant action star, Dirk McGuire.

About the Author

Kirsten Weiss is the author of Steam and Sensibility, a Steampunk novel of suspense set in Victorian-era America, and the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical DetectiveThe Alchemical DetectiveThe Shamanic DetectiveThe Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She’ll be speaking at Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose this May!


  1. I just shared this link — with the recipe — on the Candy’s Monsters Facebook page. I enjoy Riga Haworth mystery books, now I can try the drink!!!

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