Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Thanks so much for having me on. I love your blog and was so excited to learn I could be a guest. You’ve had on some of my favorite authors!
I’m a Midwestern small town girl who’s lived in big and exotic cities, but now live in a middle-sized town in Georgia. My husband and I have two beautiful daughters, ages seven and ten, adopted from China. We also have Biscuit, our “little dog, too” Cairn Terrier, two frogs, and two fish (I am forced to mention the frogs and fish). My life is writing, room mom stuff, and other mom stuff. We’ve been lucky to live in Japan three times and given the chance we would live overseas again, although we love living in Georgia.
How long have you been a writer?
I remember writing lists of words around age 4, then started putting the words in a story structure around first grade. By second grade, I created magazines and sold them to my neighbors. I won a national writing award in fourth or fifth grade and in high school, I had a column with our local paper. Then I went to college, discovered boys, and after graduation, didn’t write again until my children went to school full time. This was four years ago. Just kidding, but sort of not.
Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?
I admire anybody who works full time and is a published author. I’m a stay-at-home mom and still have trouble finding time to get everything done. I used to teach high school history and was always too exhausted to do anything creative when I got home from school.
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
I read a lot and have always had stories running through my head. That’s how I entertain myself. However, I never thought my stories were good enough to put down on paper. I did well in my creative writing classes in high school and college, but what I wanted to write was not what I wrote. It took me 20 years to get over “I’m not going to be Hemmingway” and begin to think “but you can still be entertaining.” When I started my first manuscript I was blessed to find myself in a space/time continuum of living-in-a-foreign-country-without-other-commitments and children-in-school which let me dive into a manuscript without fear.
Please give a brief description/storyline about Still Life in Brunswick Stew.
Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, her cop boyfriend get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.
What was the inspiration for this story?
When living in Japan in the late nineties, there was a HUGE story about someone who poisoned all these people with curry at a festival. There are not many murders in Japan, so any crime story gets a lot of national attention. I found the story fascinating and decided to do my own twist on it. I also found a similar poisoning case that happened about ten years ago in New Sweden, Maine.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
It felt unreal, not something I could wrap my mind around. I still feel like that!
Do you write books for a specific genre?
No, I’m horrible at figuring out genre! Actually, I originally thought my first Cherry Tucker book, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, was a romance. My editor told me it was a mystery.
What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
I do read a lot of mysteries and romance. I also like quirky fiction, suspense, and classics. I love Janet Evanovich, Nancy Martin, Stephanie Bond, Meg Cabot, Martha Grimes, Ngaio Marsh, Jasper Fforde, Gregory Maguire, Ian Fleming...I have to stop because I’m just listing off the top of my head and I could take up pages. Mary Stuart, Barbara Michaels, and Agatha Christie are my favorites, though.
Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?
I have a lap top so I travel around the house and where I land depends if the weather is warm or cold. We have the worst insulation. I’ve tried to write in coffee shops, but I’m too easily distracted.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
Usually the idea just pops into my head unbidden, prompted by something odd. I wrote a romantic suspense about a half-gypsy fortuneteller after passing a fortunetelling cottage in the West Virginian mountains and having a “what if” moment. What would happen if a fortune teller couldn’t see your future but could see your past?
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
I can’t afford to have inspiration strike me and when it does strike me, I’m usually in the middle of something else like a shower! So, I have to do the sit-my-behind-in-the-chair method.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
Dialogue is easiest for me, description is harder and takes more time. The hardest for me is clothing. Cherry Tucker wears unique, self-embellished clothing. I have to go back and insert those wardrobe changes after the story is written. Everyone else is similarly nude until my second draft stage. I’m not a fashionista and it tends to show in my writing!
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
My family and I love to travel. It can be a local festival or an overseas destination, we love to explore new places.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
My favorite writing book is Stephen King’s ON WRITING. He talked about taking characters, putting them into a terrible situation, and letting them try to get it out of it themselves (better worded by him). That’s what I try to achieve when I write.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
When the words flow so fast I feel like I’m a medium for the characters. That’s an incredible feeling. However, having a fan take time to send me an email or chat with me on Facebook just makes my day. I have a special mailbox folder for those emails called “Brighten Your Day Emails.”
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
They can check my website at larissareinhart.com for news and events (I also have a newsletter), but I’m always present on Facebook (maybe too present). I have an author page (facebook.com/RisWrites) and they can also search for my Larissa Reinhart Facebook profile which tends to be more personal. I’m on Twitter some (@RisWrites), Pinterest(@LarissaReinhart and @CherryTucker1), and Goodreads. Occasionally a reader will send me an email, which is thrilling. I love hearing from readers.
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
I grew up in a small town and my grandparents had a farm, so I can intuit the dynamics of Halo and the surrounding towns in Forks County. I’ve studied art and art history, so that helps me write from Cherry’s perspective. Most of what happens is from my imagination, though.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
I have read a lot in a variety of genres and authors, so I think that provides the best foundation. I don’t know if any particular author influenced or inspired me to write, but I do know without reading great authors, I never would have learned to write.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
It changes all the time! Four years ago it would have been completing my first manuscript. Then writing another full manuscript. Then I finaled for a big contest (the Daphne), which was thrilling. Then publication. Now I’ve got three books coming out this year. I’d love to make some big lists some year, but right now I’m content to try to get as many of these stories in my head on paper and hopefully have them published.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I just finished writing Cherry Tucker’s third mystery, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, and a prequel novella for the anthology, THE HEARTACHE MOTEL. The prequel takes place just before Cherry and Todd arrive in Vegas for Todd’s ill-fated poker tournament and their subsequent wedding/annulment. The anthology has three mysteries that takes place in Memphis at the Heartache, a dive motel rip-off of The Heartbreak Hotel. LynDee Walker, Terri L. Austin, and I had a ball writing together. HIJACK comes out in November and THE HEARTACHE MOTEL launches in December. This summer I will be working on Cherry’s fourth mystery and a non-Cherry romantic comedy called PROM NIGHT.
Thank you for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Larissa!
About The Author
PINTEREST - LARISSA REINHART
PINTEREST - CHERRY TUCKER
PUBLISHER - HENERY PRESS
Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours
Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart
Book 2: A Cherry Tucker Mystery Series
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: May 17, 2013
Format: Paperback - 288 pages / Kindle: 638 KB / Nook - 855 KB
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Still Life in Brunswick Stew
BUY THE SERIES: A Cherry Tucker Mystery Series
Book 1: Portrait of a Dead Guy
Book 2: Still Life in Brunswick Stew
Book 3: Hijack in Abstract - publication date in Nov 2013
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all! Still Life in Brunswick Stew is the second book in the Cherry Tucker humorous mystery series. Bonus: Includes book club discussion questions.
My Book Review:
I've always enjoyed reading a cozy mystery that is set in the South and has humor and romance intertwined within the storyline, and author Larissa Reinhart did not disappoint me with her entertaining novel Still Life in Brunswick Stew!
Still Life in Brunswick Stew is the second book in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. This fun whodunit story is written in the first person narrative, set in the small Southern town of Halo, Georgia, and it engages the reader to follow the latest investigative adventure of struggling artist Cherry Tucker.
Cherry Tucker and childhood friend Eloise Parker set up a tent to sell their art work at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. But slow sales and an outbreak of food poisoning leads to tragedy when Eloise dies after consuming the bad stew. The medical examiner proclaims that Eloise has died from a combination of accidental food poisoning and health related issues due to having Crohn's disease. But Eloise's family does not believe that her death was accidental, they think someone has poisoned Eloise, and they ask Cherry to investigate the real cause of her friend's untimely death. What starts out as a quest to find the cause of her friend's death turns into a zany adventure that causes all kinds of trouble for our sassy amateur sleuth!
This was such a fun read that had a great mixture of mystery, romance and humor. Even though I did not read the first book in the series, Portrait of a Dead Guy, I easily found myself entertained by Cherry's craziness that I now want to go back and read the first book. From Cherry's dysfunctional family, to her ongoing romantic issues, to her amateur sleuthing skills, this sassy southern lady's antics kept me entertained and laughing as I followed her quest to solve Eloise's murder.
With a zany cast of characters (many who return from Portrait of a Dead Guy) who keep the reader in stitches with their witty dialogue and hilarious interactions; a storyline filled with enough drama, suspense and twist and turns that keeps the reader guessing; and a richly detailed setting that transports the reader to a quirky Southern small town for some down home sweet tea and brunswick stew; Still Life in Brunswick Stew is an entertaining cozy mystery interwoven with Southern charm and humor that leaves you wanting to go on more crazy adventures with sassy Cherry Tucker!
RATING: 4 STARS ****
Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway
Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card
Contest Dates: May 20 - June 10
Everyone who leaves a comment on Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Still Life in Brunswick Stew before June 10 and sends their receipt to Samantha@ChickLitPlus.com, will get five bonus entries.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
May 20 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd Book Reviews – Excerpt
May 21- Mary Castillo – Review & Q&A
May 22- Sarah Belle – Q&A & Excerpt
May 23- The Book Bag – Review
May 27 – A Blue Million Books – Q&A & Excerpt
May 28 – The Self-Taught Cook – Review
May 30 – Tlassy Beyond Belief – Review
June 3 – Lindi Peterson – Review & Excerpt
June 4- Chick Lit Plus – Review
June 6 – Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries & More – Review
June 7 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
June 10 – Lavender & Camomile Press- Excerpt