Larissa Reinhart considers herself lucky to have taught English in Japan, escaped a ferocious monkey in Thailand, studied archaeology in Egypt, and survived teaching high school history in the US. However, adopting her daughters from China has been her most rewarding experience. After moving around the Midwest, the South and Japan, she now lives in Georgia with her husband, daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn Terrier.
She loves small town characters with big attitudes, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. When she’s not writing about southern fried chicken, she writes about Asian fried chicken at her blog about life as an ex-expat at theexpatreturneth.blogspot.com. She and her writing friends also chat weekly about books on their Little Read Hens Facebook page and littlereadhens.com.
Tell us about one of your most embarrassing moments…
The most embarrassing moment in my life had to happen in high school, right? I participated in the Washington D.C. Closeup program, breaking my small town yoke, with the chance to shine amidst other high school students from all over the country. For a week I had the chance to learn about our nation’s government, but more importantly there were boys who had no idea I was a total dork in my hometown.
After a night at a dinner theater (which seemed too romantic for words), I had met a boy from Alaska. Alaska! The state seemed so exotic and so... far away. Dreamily, I accepted his invitation to sit together for breakfast at the Department of Transportation. The large conference room buzzed with excitement. We were to visit the senate chambers that day, but more importantly A BOY ASKED TO SIT NEXT TO ME.
My stomach felt fluttery and my skin chilled. The mere presence of this boy made me queasy. Literally. I ate my breakfast to try and quiet my nerves. Eggs, toast, bacon. A bad decision. A waiter arrived at our table. I gripped the table and asked for the bathroom. The waiter, an older gentleman in a white jacket, asked me to repeat myself. I glanced at the door far across the room. Farther than I remembered. I opened my mouth to repeat my question. As I tried to form the words, nausea grappled my stomach into a vise-like grip and squeezed. In what felt like an out-of-body experience, I saw myself spew breakfast all over the table. Where the boy from Alaska sat in shock. My memory fails me after this point. I next remember laying in my hotel room watching MTV for the rest of the afternoon. Which I did not get at home, so it wasn’t all bad.
What made you choose to write PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY?
We had moved to Japan from Georgia. Scenes with my heroine, Cherry Tucker, appeared in my head while I made my daily commute of driving my children to and from school. I was working on another book at the time, but Cherry kept popping up and eventually her family, friends, ex-husband, and ex-love appeared to me as well. Then my father died. I flew home to my small hometown for three weeks to stay with my mom, and the idea for the mystery was born. Maybe it’s crazy, but I had this idea of an artist having to paint a portrait of a murdered man in his coffin.
I had visions of becoming a published author as a child. I wrote little books and magazines and sold them to my neighbors. I used my high school typing classes to write short stories. I worked at my local newspaper office in high school and even had my own column. However, my priorities changed in college. I felt too insecure to write fiction and didn’t want to go into journalism. Almost twenty years later, I attempted my first full manuscript. It was a ridiculous 140,000 words, but it gave me hope. I wrote another manuscript, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, and decided to pursue publication.
In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge -- but commissions are scarce. So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town rival.
As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a controversial subject. Her rival wants to ruin her reputation, her ex-flame wants to rekindle the fire, and someone’s setting her up to take the fall. Mix in her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into a corner she’ll be lucky to survive.
PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (Henery Press, August 28, 2012) is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner.
You may also find Larissa at:
I’m frequently on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest;. and Pinterest for the character, artist Cherry Tucker.
I’d like to encourage readers to enter my giveaway contest. Up for grabs is an e-copy of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, book one of the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. Leave a comment and you're automatically entered. Include your email addy so I can get in touch with you should your name be selected at random. The winner will be announced on my blog (http://theexpatreturneth.
blogspot.com/) on December 11, 2012. Good luck!