Thursday, April 7, 2016
An Interview with Larissa Reinhart
Pamela James Interview: Larissa Reinhart
MM: Larissa, give us the backstory on how you became a published author?
Thank so much for having me on! My backstory is not so exciting. I wrote a lot when I was young, then abandoned writing for things like teaching and raising children. We’ve moved overseas on and off over my marriage and six years ago I found myself in Japan, not teaching and with children old enough to be in school. I returned to writing.
I returned to the US with two manuscripts in two years. I got advice from a published author friend, joined Georgia Romance Writers, RWA Kiss of Death, and Sisters in Crime and took a lot of notes. Went to a great GRW conference where I pitched my manuscript and sent it off to agents and editors. And because I’m not patient, I waited about three months, then queried Henery Press. I got “the call” about two weeks later. And the rest is history. Not really. It’s still the present. I’m still publishing with Henery Press!
MM: Where is your favorite place to write?
We have an inherited Danish modern chair with matching footstool my husband’s grandparents brought back with them from their European stint after serving in WWII. It is the most comfortable chair you will ever experience but has a lot of support. I put up my feet, put my laptop in my lap, and keep a notebook and coffee on the side table. It’s all I need.
MM: Give us a breakdown on how you write your books?
I try something new every book because I want to become a more efficient and better writer. Sometimes the new thing works and sometimes not.
Basically, I start with a core idea and main characters. Usually I’ve been thinking about them for a long time before I start writing. I take notes in a notebook on the characters, their basic background, and motivations, internal and external. If it’s a mystery, I work up the means, motive, and opportunity for the crime. How the victims fits in. Who else can possibly be murdered. But I don’t set anything in stone.
Then I just start writing. I’ve tried outlining and it doesn’t work for me. My brain works best if I let it explore with words, working linearly through the story. Generally I use a catalyst for each scene to bring me into the next scene. If I get stuck I try to think of what all the major players would be doing at that moment, whether they’re in the scene or not. And I keep doing that until I get to the end. Then I go back and look for plot holes, places to tighten, scenes that need to be added in. That sort of thing.
And after that is editing. And then I send it to my beta readers and revise as needed. And then send to my editor and revise again.
MM: Let's talk about your latest book and how many books you have written?
The Body in the Landscape is the fifth Cherry Tucker mystery and sixth Cherry Tucker story (there’s also a novella in the anthology, The Heartache Motel). The Body finds Cherry in a bad place mentally. Her brother’s in jail, the town has sided against her family, and the man she in-loves, not only arrested her brother, but he’s also related to the Bransons, the Hatfield family to her McCoy. So her family is not too pleased with Luke Harper. She can’t turn her back on her family. Particularly with her brother in jail and all.
But, Cherry is offered a weekend trip by her Slavic, ex-mobster buddy, Max Avtaikin. He’s made a bet with rock star and pro-hunter, Bob Bass, over Big Rack Lodge’s Hogzilla hunt. Their side bet in this contest is for Cherry to paint the winner’s portrait. With the giant hog.
Whatever. It’s a weekend trip away from her problems and she’s heard Big Rack’s got good food.
Unfortunately, she takes a side trip to the woods for a bit of landscape painting and finds a body. And that’s where our story begins. And the title of the book happens. Cherry teams up with the victim’s dog to hunt down the killer. She just has to find the killer before they track her down first.
MM: What would you like to say to your readers?
A big THANK YOU! I appreciate all their support, especially the reviews they post. Reviews really help a writer. I love chatting with readers, particularly my Mystery Minions on our private Facebook page. They’ve gone from readers to friends. I love making new friends all over the world!
MM: What are you looking forward to and what can we look forward to from you in 2016?
I’ll be turning in my sixth Cherry Tucker mystery, which still doesn’t have a name, although it’s almost finished. Any suggestions? It’s set in an independent senior residence. I’ve had a lot of fun with that one.
I’ve got a short story, “Pig’N a Poke,” in an anthology that might be out in January and another story 15 Minutes for a new series, waiting on a deal, so I hope to hear about that in the new year. And I hope I get to work on some non-mystery ideas that I’ve been bouncing around, waiting for time to spend with those characters.
I’m also going to Okinawa for spring break with my family. I’m really looking forward to that!
MM: What would your characters tell us about you?
I’m afraid to know the answer to that! I put them through some bad stuff. They probably think I’m pretty sick.
MM: Dead or alive if you could sit down with five authors for a meal. What would you have and what would you ask in your interview?
Cake. I always start with food. PG Wodehouse, Jasper Fforde, Mary Stuart, Agatha Christie, Meg Cabot. I’d be too in awe to ask them anything interesting, so I’d probably just talk about the amazing cake.
MM: Is there a favorite family recipe or just a recipe of your own that you would like to share with us?
In Japan, the big Christmas food is KFC. Seriously, Kentucky Fried Chicken is synonymous with Christmas. And they order Christmas cakes, which are white cakes with holiday decorations on them. I may do take out this year.
Here’s an easy way to roast a chicken, which in America, I do all the time. Crank up the oven to 425. Rinse and pat dry the whole chicken. Mix up a handful of salt, pepper, and tarragon and rub it inside the cavity. You don’t need anything else.
Put her in the roasting pan breast side up and into the oven for about an hour and 30 minutes (depends on the bird size). I use a thermometer that dings me when the chicken gets to 160-165 (it’ll continue cooking in its own juice). The bird should feel firm and the skin will look crispy. Take her out and flip her over breast side down. Cover with a lid or tented foil. That’s how to get the breast from drying out. Leave it for about 10 minutes, then cut and serve. You can make a sauce with drippings, tarragon, sour cream, and dijon mustard (2-3 T of drippings, sour cream, & mustard and 1/4 t of tarragon) or just serve as is.
MM: Now for some fun questions. What movies, television shows o you binge watch? What is your favorite songs, holiday, do you have a book or author that influenced you to lean toward writing as a career choice?
Vampire Diaries is my big secret. I love TV shows about teenagers who act like they’re 43. Particularly if they’re dead and come back to life. Then die again. And come back. It’d be an awesome gig as an actor because you’d always have a job.
MM: What is your favorite meal and place to vacation?
My favorite meal is usually pizza, but they make this breaded pork cutlet in Japan that’s incredible. If I’m in Georgia, I like to vacation on Tybee Island off Savannah or in the North Georgia Mountains. I’m looking forward to Okinawa, though!
MM: They say it takes a village to become a published author. Who is in your village?
My mom. Gina Niebrugge. Terri L Austin. Gretchen Archer. Debby Guisti. The folks in Andover, Illinois. The Funks, Reinharts, and Hoffmans. The Henery Press writers and crew. And too many writers to name in Kiss of Death, Sisters in Crime, and Georgia Romance Writers. My village is a city.
MM: What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?
Don’t date guys named Rick.
MM: If you were going to pay a compliment forward who would you pay it forward to and why this person?
My sister. She’s amazing. She’s the rock of our family. She’s steadfast and loyal and you can always count on her. I wish I were more like Gina.
MM: Give us a glimpse of your family life?
I’ve got 1 husband, 2 daughters, 1 dog, and currently, 3 fish. Because of my husband’s job, he only sees us on the weekends. So my girls and I (and the dog and the fish), hang loose all week. We live in Nagoya, Japan, and they go to an international school that’s a 30-45 minute drive away, but 12 kilometers by a crow’s flight. I walk to the doctor, hair salon, grocery store, and the 100 yen shop. I drive when I have to and there’s also a subway for fun. When the girls are in school, I write. When they are at home, I’m focused on being a mom.
I spend most of my time troubleshooting technological devices. And not because I’m good at it.
MM: What is your most productive and favorite season?
I love fall but I’m probably most productive in the winter. There are a lot of school holidays in the fall. And I’m trapped inside in the winter.
MM: Tell us about where you live?
I live in Nagoya, Japan. It’s the 3rd biggest city in Japan, but the most ignored. We’re pretty much in the middle of the main island and it has a midwestern vibe. The shoguns came from this area. Toyota came from here. Also Toto, the toilet makers. I don’t know what that tells you, but it’s true.
MM: What is your writing schedule?
I would like to say I sit down and write as soon as the girls leave for school at 7:30 until they come home at 4:00, but there’s emailing and social media sizing and marketing in there. And I shower and sometimes get groceries. I walk to the dog. But the plan is for me to write every day between 7:30 and 4:00. That plan rarely happens. And for some reasons the children can’t go 2 weeks without a school holiday here.
MM: Detail for us your plans for 2016 and tell us what you are looking forward to in 2016?
Around May of 2016 my family will appear on House Hunters International. Look for the Nagoya episode. That’s pretty exciting. Even though we don’t get HGTV in Japan. I hope someone tapes us in it!
MM: Lastly, leave us with a quote by one of your characters?
“Sometimes it takes a person a few minutes to adjust to my creative ingenuity.”— Cherry Tucker
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