Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Wednesday Spotlight with Ann Yost
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! My featured guest today is Ann Yost, and she’s here to chat about
THAT VOODOO THAT YOU DO
And here she comes now.
With a jaunt to his step, Oliver escorts Ann into the parlor to join Sharon. The cherry wood log snap with sparks while the snow outdoors continues to swirl down from the sky.
Sharon: Welcome, Ann. Come and have a seat and Oliver will bring refreshments, won’t you Oliver?
Oliver offers Ann a bone-melting smile, pumps his biceps and saunters off, returning in no time with diet cokes and a plate of cheese and crackers. He winks at Ann. And, yes, my pet, it is the spreadable cheese from Trader Joe’s that you fancy. With great pizzaz, he takes the knife, spreads the cheese on a wafer and feeds it to Ann.
Ann: (eyes widened in appreciation) Omigosh, Oliver, you look like something right out of my fantasies, er, romance stories. Are you for real?
Flashing his engaging smile, Oliver pumps his biceps.
Sharon: Ah, Oliver, don’t you have work to do?
Oliver leaves, but not before treating Ann to another flex of his biceps…
Sharon: Let’s dish a bit about That Voodoo That You Do. I love the title, by the way. Was it hard for you to come up with one?
Ann: I LOVE titles. Sometimes I think I’d like to just write titles, you know, like just eating the top of the muffin? I really love old songs and often use them as inspiration. The first book I wrote was titled THE EARL THAT I MARRY. I’m afraid that title was better than the book! THAT VOODOO THAT YOU DO seemed appropriate to me because of the “magic” in the book.
Sharon holds up the book. How about a sneak preview?
The audience screams a resounding “YES!”
Blurb for: THAT VOODOO THAT YOU DO
The Runaway Bride meets Arsenic and Old Lace
An ex-bride and a divorced loner battle the past, local gossip and industrial-strength personal chemistry when they join forces to unmask an unorthodox small-town killer.
JESSIE MAYNARD: After finding her “perfect” fiancé in a compromising position she cancels her society wedding and heads to sleepy Mystic Hollow to lick her wounds and spend Christmas in the sanctuary of her late great Aunt Blanche’s vacant house.
But the storybook façade is deceptive. Behind the picket fences emotions cartwheel out of control. Bodies are piling up with suspicious alacrity at the local mortuary and the elderly members of the Tuesday Afternoon Canasta Club-turned-coven try to convince Jessie that the pastor of St. Michael’s, one Reverend Dennis Prendergast, has murdered Aunt Blanche.
Jessie’s pursuit of peace and the truth hit a brick wall in the form of a kryptonite-eyed sorcerer who invades her home, her senses and who threatens her heart.
LUKE TANNER: He’d vowed never to return to Mystic Hollow following a bitter divorce but changes his mind after a cryptic deathbed summons from his foster mother. He doesn’t mind playing midwife to Blanche’s psychic cat, Pyewacket, but he balks at his role of bodyguard for Blanche’s great niece as she launches a murder investigation with more enthusiasm than skill.
As the unlikely pair begins to uncover dark, troubling secrets in town, sparks fly between them and Jessie believes she might just find her happily ever after all. At least until Luke’s incandescent ex shows up wrapped in tinsel. It seems like déjà voodoo but Jessie knows it’s different.
This time she has to decide whether she will run away or stay and fight for the man who owns a piece of her heart.
Excerpt from THAT VOODOO THAT YOU DO
By Ann Yost
Wild Rose Press, December, 2009
Luke could hear Jessie gasping and puffing as he dragged her through the moonlit streets, past the gazebo and the town’s Christmas tree. Fueled by adrenalin and rage he ran full-out, allowing no quarter for her much shorter legs.
He vaulted up the shallow steps to Blanche’s front porch and he stopped so suddenly she slammed into him as he dug out his key. He cursed, softly. The instant they were inside he pinned her shoulders against the door.
Desperate to feel her soft skin, to lose himself in her warmth, he drew her down to the polished wooden floor while his fingers fought hers for the right to unsnap his old letter jacket. Finally, finally, it was open and he reached inside.
“Shit,” he growled. “Overalls.”
“I’ve got it,” she breathed. She shoved the straps off her shoulder while he stripped off her boots. He ripped open his jeans. He knew it was gonna be close. He was wound as tightly as a rubber band. Rubber. Shit. Mabel Ruth had confiscated his condoms. Luke felt Jessie’s fingers dig into his hips. He made a half-hearted attempt to warn her.
“Don’t talk. Don’t stop.”
He didn’t think he could stop. He wanted her the way he’d wanted Crystal in the beginning, mindlessly, hopelessly, obsessively. She arched up just as he thrust into her, hard. They strained against each other, twisting and pounding their way across the waxed floor. Ah. God. She was so hot. So tight. His climax rushed at him like a runaway train. And then she yelped.
“It’s my head. I think I hit the coat rack.”
Thunderous applause explodes
Sharon: Well, now. Let’s all grab our fans and ice water. That one’s a real scorcher, Ann. Tell us about the hero and heroine, what drives them…besides the obvious…
Ann: For Jessie, family has been everything. She’s cheerful, optimistic and has always been protective of her parents and sister and willing to do just about anything to keep the family unit in tact, including going to work for her father at Maynard Properties, Inc. She even talked herself into marrying Kit, her dad’s protégé, so her father could retire before he had another heart attack. When that idea goes off the tracks, Jessie flees to regroup, but even then, she plots to bring her family together for Christmas.
Luke, on the other hand, has had very little family life and his attempt at marriage with a beautiful but manipulative woman was a dismal failure. He intends to spend his life developing software and protecting his heart but Jessie’s warmth proves to be hard to resist.
Sharon: And the two trains shall meet. Now when I think of voodoo, I always think of the Bayou of New Orleans. Where is Sleepy Mystic Hollow and why did you choose it for your setting?
Ann: You are right! Voodoo does belong in the South. I set the story in southwestern Virginia because that’s the south to me. (I’m from Michigan). One of my favorite parts of this book is the trio of would-be witches, elderly church-going, canasta-playing ladies who, because of the disruption at their church, are willing to try something as unorthodox as witchcraft.
Sharon: So we have a serial killer stalking the elderly victims of a small town. And rather than the butler, all fingers point to the pastor. Tell us about that.
Ann: This is kind of embarrassing but we had an incident of pastoral infidelity at our church many years ago and I witnessed it almost firsthand. When it was over and the emotions died down I realized how very interesting it is when someone is expected to have superior moral behavior but is tempted, and succumbs to baser pleasures. I am also interested in the fall-out caused by dalliances and in VOODOO, the pastor’s wife is a central character, more interesting, I think, than he.
Sharon: What an interesting mix of ingredients to stir the pot. And being a cat lover, I want to hear all about this psychic cat. And she’s pregnant to boot?
Ann: I love cats, too. And dogs. I have an old golden retriever who is my constant companion and best friend. I have think people get a lot from companion pets…not just affection but introspection. Pyewacket might be a wise aspect of Luke’s personality or maybe she really is psychic. Her pregnancy gives Jessie and the reader a chance to see a tender side of ice-hearted Luke.
Sharon: I couldn’t agree more. Pets add balance to our lives and books. Would you consider Voodoo a cozy mystery? And if so, will there be more cozies coming from the town of Sleepy Mystic Hollow?
Ann: Thanks for asking, Sharon. I would consider it a cozy. My books usually have a murder/amateur detective component but, in all honesty, I think they are more cozies than romantic suspense. I may write a sequel about Jessie’s sister, a jewelry designer, who has been through a disillusioning divorce. She wound up with a wicked sense of humor and adventure and if there is another mysterious murder in Eden, she’d be the one to investigate it!
Sharon: Hmm. Sounds like a good plan in the works, something readers would love. We’ll look forward to it. Oh, here comes dessert.
Oliver struts out, pushing a sterling silver caddy, his biceps pumping. He presents a Devil’s Food cake with
a twinkle in his eye. Slicing the sinfully rich dessert, he feeds the first bite to Ann. Then he reaches for his copy
of That Voodoo That You Do.
Ann: Ah, Oliver. You may have from me whatever you want.
Sharon: Ahem. Yes, just a few more questions. So what’s next for Ann Yost?
Ann: I have a three-book series set in Eden, Maine (which, for some reason I consider romantic) near a Penobscot Reservation. The first, ABOUT A BABY, (coming out in 2010 from Wild Rose Press) concerns a veterinarian, Baz Outlaw, who is trying to win back the woman he once rejected even though that rejection caused her biological timeclock to wind down.
The second, HE LOVES LUCY, is about Baz’s much younger sister who seeks a career as a foreign correspondent, but who has fallen in love with the sheriff, a single dad, who considers her flaky and much too young.
The third, EYE OF THE TIGER LILY, was a Golden Heart finalist. It is about Cameron Outlaw, who returns after twelve years away from Eden to find he hasn’t forgotten the high school sweetheart who betrayed him. Sparks fly between him and Molly Whitecloud, the reservation midwife, as they join forces to expose corruption at the casino, but Molly has a secret; days before their reunion she underwent insemination at a Boston sperm bank and she used Cam’s sample!
I have another upcoming series about the Budd sisters of Mayville, Michigan who turn a former mortuary into a wedding boutique but are plagued with bodies that keep appearing on their doorstep or in their cupid fountain. The first book is called FOR BETTER OR HEARSE.
The audience stands and applauds Ann’s accomplishments.
Sharon: Wow! Congratulations! You are one busy lady, full of ambition and drive! Now, how about telling us about your hobby, working puzzles of quilts. I would imagine they might be hard to find?
Ann: (laughs) They are sometimes expensive. I really like any 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Doing them is like writing a book…all the pieces are there but putting the whole thing together involves color, shape and familiarity. When they come together they are perfect and neat the way life (and literature!) isn’t. I love quilts because of the bright colors and patterns and I love fabric but I don’t seem to have the time (or patience or eyesight) to make them anymore so quilt puzzles are kind of taking their place.
Sharon: And with the name “Voodoo” I have no doubt you can feed my own fetish of collecting superstitions, legends and lore. Can you share one with me?
Ann: You know voodoo, magic, superstitions all kind of merge with reality for me…I mean they are connected, you know? I guess I am superstitious because that old saying “Sunday’s Child is fair of face, etc.? Well, Wednesday’s child is supposed to be full of woe and so I’ve had to reject that old chestnut because my daughter, Emily was born on a Wednesday. She was also born on the thirteenth so, in my view, thirteen is a lucky number. Bottom line: I guess I kind of tweak the old superstitions so as to have less anxiety, one of my very, very top goals!
Sharon: And sadly, this brings us to the end of the hour, and to the last three trivia questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If you could star as the leading lady in any film, which would it be and why? And last but not least, who would you want playing your romantic hero?
Ann: I know this sounds strange to say since I write contemporary romances but I love England – especially the Regency era. I would love to “be” Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and I would certainly love, love, LOVE to have Colin Firth as my romantic hero. Or Peter Krause (Nate from Six Feet Under) or Cary Grant in anything or, of course, Oliver!
Oliver blows Ann a kiss and plucks a rose from the vase.
Sharon: Well, Ann, thank you for joining me today. I wish you mega sales. Before you leave, can you tell readers where they can buy your books and get in touch with you:
Ann: How nice of you to ask. First I would like to thank you for a very fun interview and the chance to spend even a few cyber minutes with Oliver. I’ll look forward to reading your imaginative interviews with other authors and your books as well! THAT VOODOO THAT YOU DO is available online at Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Border’s, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and my website is www.annyost.com. It includes an email contact and I have to say I love to hear from readers more than anything. I’ve love to get to know people this way.
As Eternal Love by the Bengles softly plays in the background, Oliver sweeps Ann into his arms and takes her for a spin around the parlor, singing in her ear.
My name is Ann Yost and I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan where I experienced my first two major disappointments when I discovered the town wasn’t named after me and that I was expected to share my idyllic four-year-old life with a pair of infant twin brothers.
I became one of those enthusiastic but perpetually self conscious pre-teens - I wrote dozens of blurbs for a childrens magazine column called Is My Face Red! – through which I learned that life’s experiences can be softened and enjoyed more in retrospect if they are written down.
The knowledge came in handy many years later when I wrote a weekly column, I Did, I Did, which helped me adjust to that rugged first year of marriage.
I loved the ten years I spent working for daily newspapers in Michigan, but especially the opportunities I had then and afterwards for participation journalism. I got to fly on apparatus for Peter Pan, to take a lesson in a small plane, to join a high school tennis team at age 30, to become (briefly) a substitute teacher and (even more briefly) a little league umpire.
I wrote about my children for newspapers and magazines until they put a stop to it by growing up.
Nowadays I love to create small town characters whose normal lives are turned upside down by jealousy, passion, and murder.
I believe it is so important to find the thing you love to do, the thing you can’t imagine living without, to, in the words of Joseph Campbell, “follow your bliss.”
I think this quote from Jonathan Winters says it all:
“I couldn’t wait for success…so I went ahead without it.”