Tea with Larissa Reinhart
Today I’m sitting down with Larissa Reinhart, author of the latest Maizie Albright, Star Detective series, 16 Millimeters. Maizie Albright is a former child star who portrayed a teenage detective on TV and is now a real-life detective complete with all the real life drama that comes with it. This light, funny, and suspenseful book will keep you entertained all the way through.
Thanks for stopping by, Larissa!
When did you first discover your love of mystery?
I was an avid The Boxcar Children reader and leapt to The Hardy Boys shortly after. Seems like a natural leap, right? Boxcar to junk yard? In high school, I discovered Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, and Mary Stewart. Then I turned Goth, as one does in high school, and delved into the Brontës and Daphne du Maurier. You might as well as stamped “Book Nerd” on my forehead. It’s been a while since I read The Boxcar Children or Hardy Boys, but I still reread the others’s books and they remain in my top ten author list.
When did you decide to write your first book and what made you go for it?
First grade. Naiveté, mostly. I was also editor and illustrator. This didn’t change as an adult, except for the editing and illustrating.
Are there any special rituals you have or places you go that inspire your writing?
No burnt offerings, but I do write better with my feet up. I think it’s a blood circulation thing. (Or I’m just lazy.) If I sit at a desk, the blood runs from my brain to my feet. We inherited a Danish wingback chair with a footstool and it’s perfect for writing.
Where do your plot ideas come from?
They generally start from a random idea that strikes me as interesting— a comment by a friend, line from a news story, something I see as we’re driving. I think most writers are probably like that. But shaping the idea into an actual story is the work that happens while I write. It’s the characters who form the idea into plot, because their reaction to the idea is what drives the story.
For example, the first or second time I lived in Japan, one of the major news stories was a poisoning incident that happened at a festival. I took that germ for my second book in the Cherry Tucker series, Still Life in Brunswick Stew.
The state of Georgia handed me the setting for my Maizie Albright series. The TV and movie industry has taken over this area. The Walking Dead films four miles from my house and the Marvel movies film five miles in the other direction at Pinewood Studios. This area is still a little bit country to go with that rock-n-roll. I love contradictions in story, particularly in characters. So for Maizie Albright, I took a celebrity who’s trying to escape Hollywood, brought her home to Georgia only to find Hollywood has already moved in. It’s just too much fun. Thanks Hollywood for coming to Georgia.
What are you reading now?
I just finished Romily Bernard’s YA novel, Never Apart. I still have a book hangover. But I’m on deadline for my novella, “A View to a Chill,” in the upcoming box set The 12 Slays of Christmas. When I’m on a tight deadline, I can’t read or I get nothing else done.
What’s in your TBR pile?
Ritter Ames’s third Organized Mysteries Book, Organized For Scheduled Sabotage. It just released, too. And I’m waiting for my preorder for Gretchen Archer’s new Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper short story, Double Deck the Halls. They’re both waiting for me to finish “A View to a Chill.” It’s my carrot and stick.
Who is your favorite detective character (book, tv, or movie) and why?
That’s so hard! Tommy and Tuppence are my favorite Agatha Christie duo. Elmore Leonard’s Raylan Givens makes my toes curl. Even though she’s not considered a mystery writer, I love Jennifer Crusie’s mystery characters, like Agnes in Agnes and the Hitman and Mitch in What the Lady Wants. And if I’m going for moody and broody and British, I love P.D. James’s Adam Dagliesh.
Who is your favorite mystery author and why?
Elmore Leonard. I love him for all the obvious reasons that make him a genius writer, but mainly because he makes me smile while I’m reading.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
In 2011, when I returned from living in Japan, I had two manuscripts written (The first will never see the light of day. The second was my first book, Portrait of a Dead Guy). My friend, writer Debby Guisti, advised me to join the local branches of two national writer’s associations — RWA’s Georgia Romance Writers and Atlanta’s Sisters in Crime. I also joined RWA’s online mystery/suspense group, Kiss of Death. These three groups were invaluable into shaping me from someone who had written something into an actual writer.
What would we find in your mug first thing in the morning? Tea? Coffee? Something else?
Coffee. Or else.
Where do you like to spend time with a good book?
Because I’m lazy, my favorite place to read (like writing) is with my feet up. But I’ll read inside or outside. I could Green Eggs and Ham my way through the places I like to read. On a train. In a box. With a fox.
Maybe not with the fox.
If you were given an entirely free day, no responsibility or tasks, what would you spend the day doing?
I assume I also get a zero calorie binge-fest? I mean, we’re talking real fantasy here? With my family in tow, we’d eat our way through an exotic location (or a local town renowned for BBQ ) and tour around. I’d read on my way there and back. Maybe in the middle, too, if we found a nice spot to hike and rest.
When we live in Japan, we often do this with day trips. If we’re in Georgia we do the same. This weekend, we’re headed to the North Georgia Mountains. That’s what we’ll be doing, eating around way around Blue Ridge. It’s apple season. I’ll read there and back and hopefully, somewhere in the middle. With a fried apple pie.
Any guilty pleasures?
I like to watch TV teen shows based on books — whether they’re about vampires, private school kids in New York, demon hunters, whatever — but the shows need to be overdramatic, unrealistic, and a little campy. The teen characters will act like adults and the adults will act like teenagers. IMHO, these shows are a horrible example for real teens. I don’t know why I love watching them. I Netflix binge these shows alone and text my writer pal, Terri L. Austin, quips about their relationships and dumb things they do. You know the shows. I don’t need to list them.
Tell us about an item on your bucket list.
My bucket list is always the stories I haven’t written yet. I have about ten story ideas in queue at all times. Some won’t make it, some get written, and all are replaced by new story ideas. I can’t imagine not getting through that list.
Larissa writes humorous mysteries and romantic comedies including the critically acclaimed Maizie Albright Star Detective and Cherry Tucker Mystery series. She was a contributor to the 2017 Silver Falchion Reader’s Choice winner, was the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year finalist, 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Larissa’s family and dog, Biscuit, had been living in Japan, but once again call Georgia home. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit her website, LarissaReinhart.com, and join her newsletter for a free short story.
Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RisWrites