Larissa Reinhart is the award winning author of the Cherry Tucker mystery series, from Henery Press. She has a new series coming out Maize Albright Star Detective. Both are funny cozy mysteries that I love.
Tell us a little bit about the series.
The Cherry Tucker mysteries are a humorous, cozy, Southern series with a heroine who’s big in mouth, short in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than kudzu climbs telephone poles. She’s got a quirky cast of supporting characters including her long lost love, Luke Harper; her sort-of-ex-husband Todd McIntosh; Bear the Russian kind-of-ex-mobster; and her dysfunctional and somewhat lovable redneck family. And a goat named Tater.
I also have a new series releasing next year, Maizie Albright Star Detective. It’s also humorous and mostly Southern, taking place in the mountain resort town of Black Pine, Georgia. Maizie’s an ex-teen star who returns to her hometown of Black Pine, hoping to rid herself of Hollywood tabloid hell for a new career as a private investigator. For a license in Georgia, she needs training and there’s only one gumshoe in Black Pine: Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions. He’s got a hard body, Paul Newman eyes, and no interest in having an ex-actress for an apprentice. Unbeknownst to Maizie, she’s also followed to Georgia by her stage-monster mother and their reality show cast and crew.
In the first book, 15 Minutes, Maizie and Nash are searching for a missing woman who she sort-of-kind-of lost during her first surveillance, uncovering a lot of town secrets in the process.
Give us an insight into your main character. How do you relate to her? What is special about her?
Cherry Tucker’s a classically trained portrait artist. She’s a snob about art but a redneck in all other things. She’s from a small town in rural Georgia and literally lives across the tracks (Halo is an old whistlestop town). Cherry can be sassy, eager for gossip, and incautious. She’ll risk herself to help others, particularly those she believes are vulnerable. But these qualities make her a good sleuth and a fun heroine.
I can relate to her quirkiness, but Cherry’s very different than me. She’s even beyond my id! I like writing about characters who have qualities I don’t. When I’m writing Cherry or Maizie Albright, I like to imagine how they would react in situations based on their background. I know what I would do. Cower at home. I’m always thinking, “Why don’t you just call the police and let them handle it?” I really have to dig deep to come up with an answer to that question that isn’t, “You’re right. Let the authorities take over.”
Who do you root for in the romantic triangle of Luke, Todd and Bear?
Ha! I’d stand aside and let them duke it out. That’s a lot more interesting. Actually that’d be a fun brawl scene…
Share a little bit about your background.
I’m from a small farming village in rural Illinois where we were one of a handful of families that weren’t Swedish. The town was founded by Swedes back in the 1840s. My parents were teachers and although they were from other small towns a few hours away, we were outsiders. At the time, I just felt awkward and weird like all teenagers who don’t quite fit in. Books were my escape, but my whole family reads a lot. We inhale books. Not so up on popular culture of the time—another point for not fitting in—but in the long run, it gave me an interesting perspective on viewing things from the outside-in. And as an adult, I’ve still been an outsider, moving to Georgia in my early twenties and then living in Japan on and off for the past twenty years.
Your main character is an artist. Do you have an artistic background? What type of art/artist/piece of art is your favorite?
I studied art history and some art in school. I was okay in art, but not amazing. In college, being an art major is bust-your-butt, exhausting work. Lots of all-nighters just to drag yourself to class and have the teacher and students rip your work to shreds in a critique. And it’s expensive. I had my tackle box of paint supplies stolen from my locker once and I couldn’t afford to replace them all. That’s where you get the starving artist mentality. And I knew I wasn’t a good enough artist to starve. So I went with my other background, history, and decided to teach instead.
I’m still a big art appreciator. I don’t know if I have a favorite but I mainly studied ancient art and early modern. It’s a unique mentality, to be an artist. Not just in creativity but determination. And I think that’s what influences the personality of Cherry Tucker.
When did you decide to become a writer and when did you start writing?
I don’t know if there was an actual decision ever made. I’ve been writing since I was four, starting with lists of words I knew, and around first grade, I remember putting the words together into stories. Soon after I was trying to sell the stories to my neighbors. I never thought, “I’m going to be a writer,” though. I was encouraged by teachers, but to me it was always for fun. It wasn’t until recently that I even thought about writing something to get published. But I’m glad I did.
Which writers inspire you?
I read all sorts of things and am always inspired while reading, so that’s a hard question. For mysteries, I still love Agatha Christie and Keigo Higshino for classic plotting, but I love the punchy writing and humor of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen. For romantic comedy, I adore Jennifer Crusie, Meg Cabot, and Jill Mansell. Joshilyn Jackson is amazing for Southern, particularly Georgia, literature.
What is your favorite book and why?
You may as well ask me which of my children are my favorite. I’ll name my favorite childhood book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I still love to read it and anything by C.S. Lewis. We named our now deceased Scottie after Clive Staples and one of my daughters is named after Lucy. The other daughter is named after for Sophie in Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. There, I couldn’t just name one book…
What book/s are you reading at present?
I just started Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. In the past month, I’ve read Elmore Leonard’s The Hot Kid, Kresley Cole’s Day Zero and Arcana Rising, and It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane. Also my friend, Terri L. Austin’s first in a new paranormal mystery series, Dispelled, which will release later in the year. It’s funny, intriguing and steamy!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just keep writing and reading. Go to conferences and if you can’t do that, take online classes and study blogs and books on craft. Worry more about getting your story finished than anything else. When it’s done, put the story away, and begin a new project. Finish the next manuscript before going back to revise and edit the first. You’ll be surprised at what it looks like after the manuscript has left your brain for a while.
I also have a short story in Midnight Mysteries: Nine Cozy Tales From Nine Bestselling Mystery Authors by Ritter Ames, Morgana Best, Karen Cantwell, Carolyn Haines, Eleanor Cawood Jones, Larissa Reinhart, Connie Shelton, Maria Grazia Swan, and LynDee Walker.
My story is: The Vigilante Vignette.
Knowing her reputation for sleuthing, Cherry Tucker’s neighbor wants a quid pro quo. Find his priceless family heirloom stolen by a masked minx. In return, he’ll use his family name to polish Cherry’s tarnished reputation with Halo’s town board. No deal and he’ll sink her business and turn in her newest house guest to animal control.
When Cherry’s investigation uncovers more than a cat burglar, she finds Halo’s family’s jewels aren’t the only thing in jeopardy. The Catwoman’s sharp claws might’ve dug into Cherry’s man. This Halloween, Cherry risks her life…and a broken heart.
What is your favorite social media site?
I’m on Facebook the most, but I really adore Instagram. Particularly while living in Japan, it’s fun to post pictures of interesting or funny things I see. And I love scrolling through my friends’ pictures. It’s easier on my eyes. The other sites feel so busy.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Newsletter signup: http://smarturl.it/larissanewsletter
Amazon Author Page: http://smarturl.it/LarissaReinhart
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview. I can’t wait to read your next book.
Thank you for inviting me!