If you like fast-paced, down home, hot as the Georgia asphalt mysteries, then you need to meet Larissa Reinhart, who brings us Cherry Tucker’s world of Halo, Georgia.  With her third book releasing in November, and the fourth being written right now, I thought it was a good time to sit down and have a sweet tea with Larissa.

Larissa Reinhart

The Outside Lane:  I read your books out of order because I am a big fan of Brunswick Stew. It was very easy to pick up on your characters and their shared histories. With book 3 coming soon, and an anthology on the way, how are you bringing brand new readers up to date on Cherry Tucker?

Larissa Reinhart:  Thanks Lane for having me! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you on Facebook and through my buddy LynDee Walker.

To answer your question, I think it’s tricky. I’m working on book 4 now and I try to keep character histories to a few sentences that can wrap up their relationship to Cherry without revealing too much about what’s happened in previous books. And do it in a humorous way. I kind of like the challenge. I’ll give you an example from Hijack in Abstract, book 3:

“Calling Shawna Branson an artist is like calling Ronald McDonald the King of Steaks.” Shawna Branson and I’ve hated each other since the days when we all hung out at the Tasty Dip. When I found out she was sharing her sprinkles with my boyfriend, I wrote her number on the men’s room wall. Accompanied by an explicit drawing of Shawna’s talents. Pretty good rendering for a cement block wall and a Sharpie. Instead of throwing a hissy, she should have thanked me for making her so popular.

TOL:  I grew up in and around small towns in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, and loved how true to form Halo and Sidewinder are. How did you create those towns, and their inhabitants.

LR:  I grew up in small towns, too. There’s some universal qualities to country folk, I think. Wonderful characters. I believe where life seems simpler, it’s easier to distill everything into black and white. You can find salt of the earth generosity living next to some truly shiftless S.O.B.s. And because everyone’s life is exposed through the community grapevine, we all know who’s the angel and who’s the S.O.B. And they know it, too. Makes for interesting drama.

TOL:  Cherry’s love life doesn’t seem to be going so well. Do you have a romance plotted out for her, or are you looking to see where the spirit takes you? (CherBear! –oooh, look, the spirit!)

LR:  The romance is the hardest part for me. I thought I had some things plotted out, but she took me in a whole different direction. Cherry’s not ready to settle down. She needs to resolve her mother issues first. And because that’s a mystery I’m threading through the books, I feel like she should be able to sow a few oats. Without getting slutty. She’s got a big heart and there’s a lot of love for the three men in her life. She keeps veering back to Luke, but Todd’s always there for her and lately, Max, too. I really am not sure what she’s going to do. It distresses me. I’d rather write the action scenes.

By the way, my friend Terri L. Austin is a huge CherBear fan, too. Asone of my beta readers, Terri tries to strongly encourage Cherry in that relationship. She’s a bad influence.

TOL:  Let’s talk anthology. Tell us about the process of writing an individual novella in tandem with two other writers. It’s got to be like sewing plaid. How do you make the lines match up?

LR:  IT IS SO MUCH FUN! In the beginning, there was a flurry of emails about Memphis and the Heartache Motel. Not even story ideas, just random thoughts about Graceland, Elvis, and this crappy motel and how we would work it into a story. We’d send each other funny pictures (eventually they became a Pinterest board). I can’t even remember how we settled on Memphis. Or how these drag queens entered the picture. Terri L. Austin, LynDee Walker, and I can get a little goofy. But at some point, we just started writing and then began sending descriptions of the motel back and forth to each other. We’d just add in something mentioned in the other books. But the stories are so different, which is cool. I loved using all the Elvis references.

TOL:  So you’ve written the book, sold the book, revised the book, published the book, and…what’s the most fun for you in the process?

LR:  I like editing. I edit as I write. Once I get going, writing is fun, particularly when the unexpected happens. But editing is very soothing. I like playing around with words.

TOL:  What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from the first and second releases, to your upcoming third and fourth? What would you tell authors who are hoping for the same sort of success?

LR:  You know, I’m not sure. Each time it’s been different. My first two releases were just before major holiday weekends, which my publisher has since learned is a bad idea. Not many books are sold during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Everyone’s too busy grilling. So I have no idea what an early November and early December release will be like. I also have deadlines for other books near my launches, so usually I’m just trying to get through the launch.

My release for Still Life in Brunswick Stew was insane because it was the last week of school (I have an eight and ten year old) and I was room mom. And my dog went missing on launch day. And my friends from Minnesota were coming down for the weekend to stay with me. And I had to plan and work the end-of-school-year party for the whole fourth grade. I had two signings. Plus the start of a blog tour.

I have almost no memory of that week. Not until Saturday night, I sat around my patio with my friends and a bottle of champagne while we watched Brunswick Stew climb up the Amazon bestseller charts. That was pretty darn cool!

I am praying my next release is more relaxing. So, in response to your question, my advice would be, don’t plan anything else for your launch week. Especially not end-of-school-year-parties. Unless you enjoy nervous breakdowns.

TOL:  What do you like to read?

LR:  Everything! I’m not stuck on any one genre. I tend to find an author I like, then read everything they’ve published, then move on to another author. It could be mysteries, paranormal, romance, Young Adult, thrillers, horror, literary fiction, classics. I really react to voice more than anything else. I went through a Thomas Hardy phase some years back when I wasn’t even in school. Couldn’t get enough of Thomas Hardy. Then I moved on. It’s like a sickness. I do the same thing with TV shows since the invention of Netflix and Video on Demand.

TOL:  Thank you so much, Larissa!  Here’s hoping HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is your biggest seller yet!

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