I’m very pleased to have author Larissa Reinhart with us today. Larissa loves small town characters, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. She is on a blog tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) the second in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. The first, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Be sure and visit her website, her Facebook page, or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook – you’ll find all her links below, along with my review. And today you have a chance to win an e-book of Portrait of a Dead Guy or Still Life In Brunswick Stew, winner’s choice, by leaving a comment (with an email address) or for more chances to win click HERE. Welcome Larissa,
I know when I moved my kids from Ireland to the US, there was a tough adjustment for all of us. So living in Georgia, what do you miss most about Japan and what do your husband and daughters miss?
First, thanks so much for having me on your blog!
Ireland to the U.S. would be a bit of a culture shock. We like to watch Househunters International and I’ve only seen the reverse, the Americans moving to Ireland. Gives me moving envy!
However, moving abroad is a hard adjustment, and I’m not sure if it’s harder on kids or adults. We love it, though, and seem to have instilled that gypsy spirit in our daughters. We really miss our friends in Japan, of course, but also the food and the lifestyle. My girls had more freedom, partly because it’s not a car culture and also because it’s so safe. You see kindergartners taking the subway by themselves to school. After school they’d take off on their bikes to the neighborhood park and I’d see them at dinner. We loved the safe city culture where we could explore neighborhoods on foot. That’s harder to do in the U.S., unless you live in certain cities. Not Atlanta. You really need a car.
It is interesting you mention the freedom and safety. My youngest went from being able to wander anywhere on his own to suddenly living in a place he couldn’t leave the house without me or his older sister. Did not like it.
Do you have habits or routines you find yourself following to be able to get into writing mode? Or do you just sit down from 8 a.m. to noon, come hell or high water and write every single day?
I try to mainly write while my young daughters are in school. I have to turn off the internet or I get sucked in to Facebook or something like that. I also spend a lot of time chatting by email. I’m very social online, so I need “cave time” which means no internet. Then once I get into the manuscript, I have trouble getting my head out of it. I use dog metaphors in my books a lot, but I feel my personality is similar. Easily distracted then so focused it’s hard to get my attention. Hmm. Does that sound like ADD?
How much of Cherry Tucker is Larissa Reinhart?
The easily distracted part is probably similar! I’m a couple inches taller and a couple (ahem) pounds heavier. I came from a stable family, so I don’t have all her baggage and issues. I wish I had her artistic talent. What I learned from art classes: I’m not talented enough to be an artist. And she is much more courageous than me.
What do like and dislike about writing?
I love falling into a story and working with the words to flesh it out. I often have several stories competing in my head, which makes it hard to singularly focus on one manuscript, though. Dislike? Once it’s handed over to my editor and she’s preparing it for the world, I worry if my readers will like it. A lot. Particularly because I write series, I’d hate to disappoint anyone who liked the previous books.
When you aren’t writing, what do you like to read?
I like all kinds of fiction, particularly if it’s quirky with some humor. I bounce around a lot on the bookshelves.
Did you read mysteries as a child?
Definitely! My mother just passed my oldest daughter my old Nancy Drew set, but I was a bigger fan of the Boxcar Children and the Hardy Boys. I started reading Agatha Christie in middle school, Mary Stewart and Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels in high school. Those are still some of my favorites.
What is the harshest review or criticism you’ve had about your writing, published or made to you personally, and how did you deal with it?
I had someone on Amazon accuse me of animal cruelty because I compared Todd to a dog that gets dropped off in the country and keeps returning. I never thought using that metaphor would be taken literally. I wasn’t advocating leaving unwanted dogs (or ex-husbands) in the country. That one kind of shocked me. So I wrote to my friends and we laughed about it. What else can you do?
Now three things that have nothing to do with writing:
- What is your favorite food? Anything that reeks of cholesterol and poor nutrition.
- What is your favorite TV show? Right now, The Walking Dead on Netflix, but I can’t wait for the new season of Boardwalk Empire.
- What is your favorite music? Ack! That’s so hard! I love country and rootsy rock. Right now I’m into Alabama Shakes and Pistol Annies.
Thank you so much for being here today Larissa, and good luck with the tour and your latest book. Before you go, is there anything else you would like to tell your readers or have them know about you?
Thanks so much for having me! I really appreciate the interest in the Cherry Tucker Mysteries. I’ve been bowled over by all the reader love and just want to say thank you to all the fans and supporters who’ve put Cherry on those best seller lists. I began writing for me, but now I write for you, so THANK YOU!
Book 3, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, comes out November 5, and for those of you curious about Cherry and Todd’s relationship before the Vegas wedding fiasco, I have a novella, QUICK SKETCH, in the anthology HEARTACHE MOTEL, coming out December 10. Heartache Motel is three capers set in Memphis at Christmas with drag queens and Elvis impersonators, so just right for the holidays;).
And a question for your readers. Did you read mysteries as a child? Looking forward to hearing your answers and your favorite childhood mystery books!
Genre: Cozy Mystery/Humorous – 2nd in Series
Published by: Henery Press
Release Date: May 17, 2013
Number of Pages: 298
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.
When a book starts with “They should’ve kept the mud pit.” you know you’re in for an interesting ride. What was a bit of a surprise/shock was when the best friend, the person you expect to be the sidekick, dies at the beginning of the book. Cherry Tucker is an interesting character. She’s a painter, a fine artist of still life oils, who crafts up her wardrobe in some ‘interesting’ ways. She has a fondness for flip flops which she also crafts up. Goats for some reason don’t like her. And she drives a Datsun – I haven’t heard that car make name in a good long while. Cherry is selling her paintings and her friend Eloise her raku pottery at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off when Eloise, who has really been chowing down on the stew takes sick. A large number of fair goers end up in the Emergency Room but Eloise dies. The police have the attitude that it is a simple case of food poisoning and that Eloise was affected more than other people because she had Crohn’s Disease. Neither Cherry or Eloise’s family believe that so Cherry’s investigation is well underway before the police discover it was arsenic in the stew. Well written mystery – I think you’ll be guessing until the end and great characters – I enjoyed Max Avtaikin – with entertaining storylines. Cherry has an ex-husband, Todd. One of those crazy things you do in Vegas and then get annulled. And while she is attracted to Todd, her current boyfriend is Luke, a cop. Only thing I didn’t like about the book was Luke. A1 jerk. But we are probably supposed to feel that way about him so it will be interesting to see if he changes or gets shown the door as the series goes on. Because I will be reading it! ♥♥♥♥
Facebook page: facebook.com/RisWrites
Goodreads author page: goodreads.com/author/show/5806614.Larissa_Reinhart
PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY:
September 26 – Mommasez… Review & Interview
September 27 – Shelley’s Book Case Review
September 28 – Chloe Gets A ClueInterview
September 30 – Brooke Blogs Review
October 1 – Melina’s Book Blog Review & Interview
October 2 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard Review & Interview
October 4 – A Chick Who Reads Review
October 6 – According to Squenn Review
October 7 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading Review & Interview
October 8 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner Review
October 10 – Musings and Ramblings Review & Interview
They should’ve kept the mud pit.
That was my first thought when I heard another brawl had ensued, the second or third of the day by my count. This happens when festival committees get all high-brow and replace four- wheeling with an arts and crafts display. What kind of crazy wants to walk around an old cotton field to shop for macramé pot holders and corn husk dolls? Or even quality art, like my Cherry Tucker still life oil paintings. Or exquisite Raku pottery from my buddy, Eloise Parker.
That’s my opinion, anyway. Based on the fact that the Annual Sidewinder Brunswick Stew Cook-Off took place smack dab in the middle of a Georgia summer when you needed activities like mud pits to cool off the locals. Bad enough the hundred year old argu- ment over the origin of Brunswick Stew breaks out every time you get Virginians and Georgians together. And we all know there is only one town of Brunswick with a giant iron kettle for a landmark. Which would be in Georgia.
Sidewinder’s also in Georgia, but a tenth of the size of the Golden Isle of Brunswick. Sidewinder’s not even a town. More like a spit in the road farming village that once was a plantation burned down by Sherman. My hometown of Halo is bigger, and we aren’t even big enough for a Walmart. Some might say Halo’s not big enough for my art studio, but I’m not much on what folks say.
Unless they’re customers, of course.
Eloise begged me to participate in this cook-off turned art festival, which is why I’m spending my weekend slumped in a camp chair, drinking tea by the jug, and sweating up a storm. And not selling any paintings. People come to taste stew, eat pulled pork, and watch the rednecks churn up the Georgia clay with their four- by-fours. So when the guy hawking koi ponds in the booth opposite leaned into our tent to report the newest altercation, I jumped at the chance to break my boredom. Actually, my jump was more of a sweat-soaked slide out of my seat.
“Eloise,” I asked. “You want to come and see what the fuss is about?”
“And miss the possibility of a single customer? I’m not hauling my butt out of this chair except to get more stew.” She stubbed out a cigarette. On the folding table sat her second or third bowl of the thick Brunswick Stew, brimming with shredded meat, tomatoes, butter beans, and corn. “One of my students gave me a bunch of free tickets to his family’s booth, and I plan to use them all. My Crohn’s isn’t bothering me, so I’m eating to make up for the times my stomach doesn’t let me.”
Although the stew had a lovely cinnamon color, eating it in record-breaking heat held no appeal to me. Particularly the amount Eloise had already consumed. The concoction of veggies and meat once got poor folks through hard times by tossing in whatever you could salvage. I’ve had it made from chicken, beef, pork, venison, and even rabbit. Some like to add squirrel with their pork. However in college, after enjoying a bowl with a large side of tequila shots at a Savannah bar, I vowed never to touch the stuff again. Does not taste as pleasant the second time around.
Watching Eloise eat made sweat break on my neck. “On a scorcher like today, I would think you’d rather have a Sno-Cone than a hot bowl of stew.”
“As a Sidewinder native, it is my duty to eat Brunswick Stew, particularly at our annual cook-off,” said Eloise. “I love Brunswick Stew. You should know better. How long have we been friends?”
“Let me see,” I pretended to think, not trying to hide my grin. “Seems I beat you in the Forks County Art Competition in third grade…”
“And I stole your drawing and you promptly announced it over the PA, getting me in all kinds of trouble. I still have the handprint on my behind.”
“Serves you right, you art thief.”
“I loved your drawing,” Eloise’s eyes grew misty. “I couldn’t help it. I’d never seen such a beautiful unicorn.”
“It was not a unicorn. I would never draw a unicorn.”
“I’m pretty sure there were rainbows, too,” Eloise laughed at my horrified look. “You were eight. Anyway, I recognized talent then and now. I’m lucky to have a friend like you.”
“Are you kidding? You’re the one that got me into the Reconstituting Classicism gallery show. If I can pull off something great, that crowd will pay big bucks. I’m down to my last twenty dollars and change.” At that thought, I fished in the pockets of my cutoffs to look for Sno-Cone change, disappointed to find only thirty-five cents and a few gum wrappers.
“No one around here wants a portrait made, not even one of their pet,” I moaned. “I had the hunting dog market cornered there for a while. The art well in Forks County has mysteriously run dry ever since I was snubbed by the Bransons after painting the portrait of Dustin. Then Shawna Branson became president of the Forks County Arts Council and suddenly I have paintbrush leprosy.”
“How are those classical paintings coming?” Eloise dropped her eyes to her stew bowl. She knew me well enough to avoid conversation about Shawna Branson. “Aren’t you supposed to send digital photos of the portfolio soon?”
“Week from Monday,” I said. “Plenty of time. I’m doing famous Greek statues as paintings. Except to make it edgier I’m covering the model’s body in tiny Greek letters. Head to toe.”
Eloise swatted me with her spoon. “You haven’t done them yet? Don’t make me look bad, Cherry Tucker. The show is organized by my old drawing professor at UGA. He’s still ticked I went into pottery. I’m hoping to get back in his good graces and get my own show out of the deal.”
I held one hand over my heart, the other palm up in Pledge of Allegiance mode. “I swear I would never do anything to make you look bad, Eloise Parker. You have my word. I’m just having a little trouble convincing my model to pose nude as the Dying Gaul.”
“Who are you using as a model?”
It took a moment for Eloise to regain control over her laughter. I helped her right her chair when it threatened to tip.
“Luke is the perfect model for a Greek statue,” I explained. “Tall, lean, with great muscle definition. Especially those indentations between his waist and hips.” I paused a moment in delicious ecstasy, ruminating over Luke’s V-cut. “He even has the dark curly hair and the straight nose of a classic Greek. And I don’t think he’s got a drop of Greek blood in him. Pretty sure Harper’s not a Greek name.”
“Nor Roman. You just want to paint Luke naked,” Eloise cackled. “This doesn’t have anything to do with art.”
“Of course it does. I have an eye for beauty, that’s all.”
“You got a thing for beauty, all right. As long as it’s got a—”
“You can stop right there, Eloise Parker. No need to get trashy.”
“I’m not the one obsessed with painting Luke Harper nude.”
“He never lets me paint him, nude or otherwise. I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?”
“Probably because he’s worried the criminals in Forks County will laugh at him after seeing his bare ass in a painting,” Eloise lifted her brows. “Hard to arrest somebody when they’re laughing at you.”