Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kristi Ahlers: The Trouble with Voodoo

Romance author Kristi Ahlers visits today to share her thoughts on writing. She’s also going to show off her brand new release, The Trouble with Voodoo, Book 3 in her delightful "The Trouble with" series (The Trouble with French Kisses, and The Trouble with Pilots).

Welcome, Kristi. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m originally from Northern California. I grew up in a small town called Yuba City. Our city (including the high school marching band, which I was a member of, football players, and cheerleader) was on the cover of Time Life Magazine in 1984 for being the 365th worst city to live in out of 365 cities nationwide! Our town is famous for the Sun Sweet driers…so if you eat a Sun Sweet product it comes from Yuba City…even today, and we had our very own serial killer Juan Corona…aka The Machete Killer currently calling San Quentin home. Great claims to fame huh?! However, it was a great childhood and I LOVED living there!
What a notorious place to grow up! What sparked your interest in writing?

While I was living in England I came home from running errands and caught the end of a documentary on the Sepoy Mutiny. I wasn’t aware of the conflict and did research on it, the conflict so bothered me I thought ‘I wish I could change history.’ That night all my characters came to me, and I sat down and wrote a 376 page story and from that point I was hooked!
What components, in your opinion, make a great story?

There must be strong character growth, and I prefer a story that doesn’t rest on using miscommunication as the vehicle for characters black moment. I feel as a reader it’s a cop out. I think a great story is a story written from the author’s heart that includes all the senses. As a reader I want to be right beside the characters, experiencing their story. This is done when the author writes using the 5 senses and takes time to know his/her characters before sitting down to write.
How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?

Actually, a great deal. Most of my ideas or characters come from either experiences or a comment made by someone or something I have seen firsthand. I’m a huge "what if" writer and often this is what spurs a story, what if I could re-write history, or what if this person saw or heard that? When I was a flight attendant I met so many different people, often wondering what led them to be the way they were or who they are…
What inspired you to write The Trouble with Voodoo?

I was in New Orleans and took one of the French Quarter tours and one of the stories regarding the Quadroon who died spoke to me and my ‘what if’ mind began to churn and the story came to life for me.
How did you come up with the title?

I’m writing a series, so this time around title choice was very easy as they are all The Trouble with something…
What was the hardest part of the story to write?

Hands down any sex scene or sensual scene I write is ALWAYS the hardest for me to pen. I put a great deal of pressure on myself as a writer to make sure all the emotions and sensations are present and it doesn’t read as gratuitous filler. I fight hard for my words I don’t want anyone to jump past them.
What was the easiest part of the story to write?

For some reason the beginning is always the easiest for me. In fact I don’t start a story until I have my opening plotted in my head.
Was there much research involved?

Actually there was very little research involved for Voodoo since I’d already learned a great deal over the course of the years. I have always loved New Orleans and her history and I love to read so I learned a great deal that way and just apply that to the writing.
Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?

That everyone deserves a second chance and that second chances can be magical and wonderful. I do believe people can learn from their mistakes if given half a chance. That’s what this story is all about, second chances.
Speaking of second chances, if you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?

I’d love to spend time with Jane Austen. Her stories were and still are relevant, she wrote about topics that still apply to people even today.
What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?

I’m working on a pre-WWI story. We tend to romanticize war and as a woman who had to stand back while her husband deployed I can tell you there is nothing romantic about it. This is a story I’ve been putting off writing for years and I’ve finally decided to go for it. In the meantime the follow up to The Trouble with Voodoo will be coming so keep and eye out for The Trouble with Cupcakes.
We definitely will, Kristi. Meanwhile, how about a sneak peek at The Trouble with Voodoo?

Ashley Quinn is fulfilling her dream of opening her own bookstore. In the heart of New Orleans, she finds the perfect location just off Bourbon Street, only to find the building is haunted by the ghost of the original owner, an 18th century notorious rake, Royce Kingston. Ashley has long-suffered haunting dreams of a young woman suffering incredible heartbreak, dreams that leave Ashley shaking and in tears on waking. When she learns she is the reincarnated woman from her dreams, it’s up to her to break an ancient curse to save the man she’d loved so long ago, the same man who’d irreparably broken her heart—Royce!

Royce Kingston lived a reckless life. Women were attracted to him and he did nothing to dissuade them. He enjoyed wild nights of fun and flirtatious but momentary romance. He’d broken many hearts, but that was part and parcel of the kind of man he’d been. But he’d broken the heart of the wrong woman. She put him in the place in which he now found himself existing. Ironically, she is the only woman who can save him. He must prove he’s worth giving a second chance. But unable to tell Ashley how to break the curse, he could find himself trapped between worlds. And time is running out.

EXCERPT: Chapter One

New Orleans
"I have not rented a haunted building, and I’m not dreaming about a man I have never met and can never love." Ashley Quinn muttered to herself as she once again placed the books back on the shelf. They seemed to fly off all by themselves.

Why the idea of renting a haunted building should bother her was stupid. The building was perfect for her little used bookstore, Vieux Carre Books. "If I say it often enough and loud enough I might just believe it." She blew hair out of her eyes, gazing around her little bookstore. She wasn’t sure exactly what she was looking for, but it compelled to peer into the corners in search of . . . something. "You’re losing your mind, girly."

She blamed her anxiety on all the comments she’d received from the realtor who refused to even enter the building to show her the property and instead handed Ashley the keys and stood outside. Not only that, a psychic stopped her on the street to warn of the evil lurking in the shadows of her new venture. How was someone supposed ignore all that?

She couldn’t. But despite the funky behavior of the realtor and the psychic, Ashley signed the contract and now she was good and stuck with a possibly haunted building.

The original building had been the stately home of the much sought out New Orleans bachelor, Royce Kingston, who lived about two hundred years earlier. He was a dashing man in his time who was reportedly a lover who could have given Casanova a run for his money. His exploits were notorious and all his conquests said the same thing—once loved by Royce, a woman was ruined for any other man.

Ashley snorted and walked over to the antique counter where a rather thick folder sat—a folder full of the research she’d done over the last few weeks—determined to prove she wasn’t losing her mind. Unfortunately, her brilliant idea backfired and in a big way.

She flipped the page of a diary entry she’d read more than once. At times, Ashley realized she was envious; not of the woman but of the fact she’d never experienced a romantic interlude as described in such vivid detail as in the diary. The sensuality of the writing left Ashley aching and wanting and totally frustrated. And as she gazed down on the only likeness she had of Royce, her heart tripped over in her chest. Yeah, she was screwed and it was time to admit it.

The bell over the door rang and Ashley looked up and saw her friend Sarah walking into the store.

"Hey, you." Sarah dropped her bag on the counter. "God, it always smells so good in here."

"I think I’m in love with a ghost who’s haunting the building and trying to ruin my business," Ashley blurted, clapping her hand over her mouth and cringing. Wow! Well, that didn’t sound too crazy.

"I leave for two weeks on my honeymoon and return to find out you’ve lost your mind. Nice." Sarah laughed as she leaned against the counter and turned the folder around to face her. "What’s this?"

"Oh, just some things I’ve collected. You know, research on the building and stuff."


Sighing, Ashley relented and told her friend the truth. "Remember when I told you things were disappearing and my books keep flying off the shelves?"

"Yes, I remember that."

"Well, what I didn’t tell you was the weird behavior of the realtor, or the warning I got from some random fortune teller." Ashley cupped her head with her hands. "I’m either living and working with a ghost, or I’m losing my mind. And the worst part about it is I can’t stop thinking about him or wishing I had known him."

Sarah patted Ashley’s hand. "Okay, so what aren’t you telling me?"

"Read this." Ashley pushed her copy of the journal entry that had been wholly responsible for her recent spates of sleepless nights toward Sarah. For a moment, Ashley wondered if the entry was really as hot as she thought, or was it her total lack of any kind of romance in her life making her think something was sexy when it wasn’t. And if it wasn’t sexy then it’s quite possible she was losing her mind.

A moment later, Sarah lifted her gaze from the page. "Oh, my!"

"See what I mean?"


Ashley held up her hand. "Come on. Let me close the store for a little bit and we can take a walk. Leave your stuff here; it will be safe."

"Why can’t we—"

Ashley grabbed Sarah’s hand, cutting her friend off again, and started walking toward the front door.

"It’s better if we have this conversation somewhere else. Trust me."
* * * * *
Kristi Ahlers is a California girl! She grew up in Northern California in a small city called Yuba City. Since then she’s lived in Brussels, Belgium, and England along with a myriad of other locations. A former flight attendant, she was able to continue to feed her love of travel. This has greatly influenced her writing, allowing her to pen stories about places she’s managed to visit and things she’s experienced.
* * * * *


  1. Hi Kristi,

    Congratulations on your new story. I really loved your first 2 in this series and that they're connected. Is this one also connected?

    Also what made you decide to write a ghost story? Will you write more of these or go back to regular romance?


    1. Hi, Simone!
      Yes, this title is contacted as the female lead is Ashley, she's friends with Sarah from The Trouble with Pilots, however if a reader hasn't read the previous two titles they won't feel left out!

      I decided to write this story after I took a haunted ghost tour while visiting New Orleans. Royce came to me right away and I just knew I was going to have to write his story!

      I have actually already written another ghost story, I find I really love exploring that sub-genre so keep checking back for release dates on that!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  2. This sounds great -- I love New Orleans! Although I just heard my favourite restaurant, Petunia's, has closed. Waah! But there's no shortage of good food there. I love how you stress using all the senses. The sense of smell is so powerful but doesn't get near enough attention in so many stories. Good to know you use it.

    ~C. Margery Kempe (not sure why it says "Anonymous")

    1. Thanks, C. Margery!

      Every time I go down I either eat at ACME Oyster House or Desire on Bourbon! New Orleans is my muse I swear!

      I think it's so incredibly important to draw a reader into a story and the best way is through the senses I think. At least hopefully readers can relate to tactile experiences or scent experiences...

  3. Congratulations on the new release, Kristi. It sounds like a great story and I love your comment about second chances! Good luck with the book.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I think second chances are very important, you never know what gift you'll be given if you open your heart up to allow them. Thanks for the good wishes. This story is very dear to me, I had a great time writing it...

  4. This story sounds so intriguing! I can't wait to read it. Congrats on your new release!

  5. Thanks, Marie! I had a great time writing it let me tell you, and it also gave me extra excuses to keep going to New Orleans, like I really need excuses lol

  6. Hey, Kristi. Looks like you're having quite a party here!Happy to host. Congratulations on your new release. So glad you're writing what you love!

    1. Thanks, Pat! I'm having a great time, thanks for letting me visit! And it's so nice to be back to writing took a year or so off, feeling recharged again...

  7. Hi kristi!! Just wondering when we can expect a full length novel?

    1. Hi, Kailia,
      I've actually just finished a full length and I'm cleaning it up and submitting soon. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Interesting setting for your story! Particular places and events from history can inspire great fiction. Best of luck and congratulations, Kristi.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Anne. I agree history can be very inspiring, I majored in history and I've drawn from things I learned and apply it to my stories whether its a historical story or even modern.

  9. Thanks, Pat, for hosting Kristi. We really appreciate it. Kristi's Trouble Series is a great boon for us. We're very fortunate to have her on our team.

    Kristi, you did a great job with this book. Readers will love it :-)

    Your boss!

    1. Ah, thanks so much! Y'all have been great to me and I'm happy to be with Tiregearr Publishing. And yes, Thank you so much, Pat. I've had a lot of fun here today.

  10. Kristi, you know I've been waiting a long time for this story, and it's finally here!!! Can't wait to read it. I wish you the best in sales.

    As for writing the sex scenes, they're excruciatingly painful for me to write, too!

  11. Kristi, this interview has been fun. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to show their support!

  12. Great interview, Kristi! Looking forward to this latest installment in The Trouble With series. I love New Orleans. Looking forward to Cupcake next too cause, you know, there's cupcakes. :) Congratulations!

  13. Sounds like an awesome book, Kristi. Best of luck!