Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Conversation with Mystery Author Larissa Reinhart

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Larissa Reinhart

We are delighted to welcome author Larissa Reinhart to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of Great Escapes Book Tours, which is coordinating her current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find her schedule here.

Larissa's fifth mystery to feature amateur sleuth Cherry Tucker is The Body in the Landscape (Henery Press; December 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the chance to catch up with her to talk more about the series.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about Cherry Tucker.

Larissa Reinhart
Photo provided courtesy of
Larissa Reinhart

Larissa Reinhart: Cherry Tucker is a short and sassy spitfire living in small town Georgia. She's a bit of a redneck but also a classically trained artist. Her family dysfunction is something from a Jerry Springer episode, but she was raised on a farm by her traditional grandparents. I love paradoxical characters. There's a lot of room for humor when you have contradictory characteristics.

OMN: The Body in the Landscape is the fifth book in the series. How has Cherry changed since you first introduced her in Portrait of a Dead Guy?

LR: As a reader, I don't like a lot of character change in a series. As a writer, I'm slowly developing Cherry's character, but I also don't like a lot of change. It's easier to read books out of order that way. More importantly, there's a reason we like that character in the first book. That's the reason we're coming back, book to book. Yes, it may seem frustrating that they continue to have the same flaws, but once they've overcome those flaws, they're no longer interesting. If it was a stand-alone, I'd expect the character arc to be developed from beginning to end, and I'd have closure with that character. The unresolved issues are what pull me back to that character. I don't have closure, so I need to go back and learn more.

OMN: Into which genre would you place the books in this series?

LR: The Cherry Tucker books are considered cozy mysteries. Readers know what to expect from my cozy. Not a lot of language, sex, or violence. Generally small town humor. It's something I think about as I'm writing, because I don't want to let down my readers.

OMN: How would you tweet a summary of The Body in the Landscape?

LR: Painting the winning portrait for a Hogzilla hunt contest seems like a paid vacation until Cherry Tucker's plein air piece uncovers a body.

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?

LR: My wheelhouse for this series are small towns and art. I try not to use any people I know as characters — that's a sure way to tick someone off — but I'll compile character traits from certain types of people. In The Body in the Landscape, I did get my idea for setting a murder mystery at a Hogzilla hunt based on a remark at a wedding from a cousin who has a ranch and who had a certain celebrity visit his property for a wild hog hunt. Wild hogs are tearing up farm land all over the U.S, but particularly the south. It seemed like a good place for someone to get killed on purpose.

OMN: Where do you most often find yourself writing?

LR: I write at home in a mid-century, Danish wingback chair with a matching stool we inherited from my husband's grandparents. It's very comfortable. I sit with my laptop in my lap and a notebook and pencil at my side. I can't write sitting up at a desk because my ADD kicks in and I squirm more than I think.

OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your stories?

LR: Youtube is great for certain things, like weapon how-to research. I attended my city's Citizen's Police Academy and learned a lot there. The Body in the Landscape takes places at a Georgia hunting lodge, so that was a fun research project. I stayed at one with my family for a weekend. We didn't hunt, but we fished and hiked and ate amazing food. I also asked a lot of questions and looked for places to hide bodies. Fictional bodies, of course.

OMN: How true are you to the settings?

LR: My books are set in rural Georgia. I'm currently in Japan, but have lived in Georgia the past twenty years. I love Georgia, so I draw a lot of inspiration from the state.

OMN: If we could send you anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, to research the setting for a book, where would it be?

LR: I'll go pretty much anywhere and come up with a story. Just put me on a plane.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests?

LR: My hobbies are raising children and taking care of our dog, Biscuit. Actually that's my career. When I'm not doing that and working on writing stuff, I'm reading. I like to binge watch on Netflix. And I live in Japan, so that's a hobby/career onto itself.

OMN: What's the best advice you've received as an author?

LR: Read in and out of your genre. And just sit and make yourself write. I can't remember where I got those, but they're often repeated and the best advice, I think.

OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a mystery author and thus I am also …".

LR: … constantly deleting my Google search history.

OMN: Do you use a pen name?

LR: My pen name is my maiden name. My dad's funeral was part of the inspiration for the first Cherry Tucker book, so it's to honor him. It also gives me a little privacy on social media, (particularly for my children) not to use my real name.

OMN: How do you come up with the titles for the books in this series?

LR: I always use some kind of art theme in the Cherry Tucker series because she's an artist. And we (my editor and I) try to relate it to the story, which can be tricky. In The Body in the Landscape, Cherry's landscape painting when she finds a body, so that worked out swell.

OMN: What kind of feedback have you received from readers?

LR: I love getting feedback from readers. And I'm pretty social on social media, particularly Facebook, so I can "chat" with readers all the time. My particular favorites are all the goat videos and pictures readers send me. I've an ornery goat, Tater, who harasses Cherry Tucker in her books. It's really sweet they send those and I try to repost them.

OMN: Suppose the Cherry Tucker mysteries were to be adapted for television or film. Any thoughts on who you'd like to see play the lead role?

LR: I thought of the country singer/songwriter Miranda Lambert when I originally started writing the Cherry Tucker series. The sassy characters she portrays in her songs were my muse. So I suppose Cherry looks a bit like her. I think my readers would have a better idea for casting. My mental images are more vague than theirs.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

LR: I read a mix of genres as a child, just like I do now. The books I read then certainly honed my mental imagery and love of characters and story. I think the Choose Your Own Adventure books I pored over in middle school were great for seeing different plot lines and story paths. I read a lot of Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, and Mary Stewart, so they're certainly an influence in my mystery writing.

OMN: When selecting a book to read for pleasure today, what do you look for?

LR: I take recommendations from friends all the time. I think that's the best way to grow a readership, too. But what I read really depends on my mood. I tend to get on reading kicks where I'll read a lot of one genre, series, or author. Then I'll get bored and switch to an entirely new genre. I swing between genres a lot. And I reread a lot. Particularly if I love a certain character, I may read the book(s) three or four times in a year. I tend to read one or two books a week and if I really loved the book, I'll immediately reread. Probably because I don't want it to end.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

LR: My Top 5 Favorite (Semi-Modern) Movies Set in the South:

1. Junebug
2. Mud
3. One False Move
4. Dazed and Confused
5. The Blind Side

OMN: What's next for you?

LR: Life is always exciting when you live in Japan. In two weeks, we're going to be filmed for House Hunters International and that'll appear in the spring. I'm working on the sixth Cherry Tucker mystery now. I have a new mystery series waiting in the wings with an agent, an amateur sleuth paired with a private investigator set at a Georgia resort town full of celebrities. And after Cherry Tucker number six, I hope to have time to start a women's fiction/ChickLit story with another Georgia girl, except this time set in Japan.

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Larissa Reinhart Book Tour

After teaching in the US and Japan, Larissa enjoys writing, particularly sassy female characters with a penchant for trouble. She lives near Atlanta with her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at LarissaReinhart.com and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart

The Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart

A Cherry Tucker Mystery

Publisher: Henery Press

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

When Cherry Tucker's invited to paint the "kill portrait" for the winner of Big Rack Lodge's Hogzilla hunt, it seems like a paid vacation. Back home in Halo, a Hatfield-McCoy-style standoff builds between Luke and Cherry's families. She's ready for a weekend away, hobnobbing with rich and famous hunters, where she can forget her troubles and nobody knows her name.

As Georgia sunshine turns to bleak December rain, Cherry's R&R goes MIA when she finds a body in the woods. While the police believe the local drunk took an accidental spill, Cherry has her doubts, particularly when a series of malicious pranks are targeted at the rifle toting contestants. With loyal companions at her side — sort-of-ex-husband Todd and a championship bayer named Buckshot — Cherry tracks suspects through a forest full of pitfalls and perils. And all the while, a killer's stalking the hunt party with a bead on Cherry.

The Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me on today Omnimystery! Great questions. I enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete

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