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Let's chat with Larissa, shall we?
Susan: Larissa, thank you so much for joining us today here at Get Lost in a Story. My goodness, you are well-traveled. Where are you originally from?
Susan: In other words, you are Nouveau Southern—not that there’s anything wrong with it—some of my very best friends are. I’m so happy you decided to hang out down South.
Larissa: I am a carpet bagger, yes;) Much like Gretchen Wilson, the original Redneck Woman, who is also from a small Illinois farm town (Pocahontas).
Larissa: Very much so, which is why I felt comfortable writing about a small Southern town. The difference: the amount of conversation and food. Sorry Illinois, but you can’t beat the South in food! (Although we do grow excellent pork chops in IL). And controversial conversation is kept to a minimum in the Midwest, which would make for a pretty dull book! There would be a lot of dialogue about weather.
Larissa: My children are adopted from China, and they are my life’s greatest blessing! I’m so happy we had a chance to experience living in Asia with them. And it turns out they loved living in Japan as much as my husband and I do.
Larissa: I’ve been lucky enough to visit many foreign countries, which I loved, but if we have a free weekend, I really like going up to the North Georgia mountains. Although, we just got back from Tybee Island, off Savannah. And I did love Tybee. And we do love Savannah... This is a really hard question. How much money and how much time do I get for the vacation? Our next big trip, we’d like to go to Austria. I’ve been obsessed since I read Mary Stewart’s AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND. When we lived in Japan, I never got a chance to go to Singapore, which I really wanted to try. Just put me on a plane. Wherever I end up, I’ll be happy, Susan!
Susan: Whew! That made my head spin--but, I did ask.
Larissa: I would consider myself a failed artist. I like to draw and paint, but haven’t done much in many years. I loved design and layout. Now I’m just a doodler.
Susan: How much do you and Cherry have in common?
Larissa: We’re both short, but that’s about it! I can be stubborn, but I think she takes stubbornness to an extreme. She says things I would never utter. She also takes risks that I would never try. If I heard there was a murderer running around my town, I’d lock my door. She’d greet them with her daddy’s Remington Wingmaster hunting rifle. Actually she does greet them with her Remington.
Susan: For the record, I love this book, and can’t wait to see what Cherry gets into next. Will Cherry be around a while? (The answer had better be the one I want to hear.)
Larissa: Thank you so much, Susan! I certainly hope so! Not many days go by when I don’t think about a funny scrape I’d like to see Cherry get out of! I’m writing her second book now, tentatively titled STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW. It involves a literal still life and a Brunswick Stew cook off. And of course, more man trouble for Cherry. And family trouble. And goat trouble.
Larissa: My brain works in mysterious ways! In all honesty, this came to me after my father’s funeral, when I was listening to Miranda Lambert’s “Famous in a Small Town.” I suddenly saw this artist painting a dead guy and knew her name & knew the guy she painted was a thug. But that’s all I knew. Then she started talking to me and later I started hearing her conversations with Luke, Todd, and her crazy family. They made me laugh.
I just realized I sound like a total psychopath! I swear the voices I hear aren’t really “voices.” I should be drinking something...
Susan: What is your most interesting quirk?
Larissa: Good grief, no. I have a fear of heights and vertigo! I’ve eaten some strange stuff. Raw horse. Raw whale. Cow rectum (but didn’t know it at the time). That’s life in Japan:)
Susan: I'm sorry, cow WHAT? Just hearing about that's enough to put me off beef altogether. What do you do to unwind and relax?
Larissa: Mainly read. If I’m really stressed, I read Agatha Christie. Her murders are very soothing to me;)
Susan: What would you say are your heroine, Cherry Tucker’s, greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Larissa: Her sass is both a strength and weakness, because sometimes her big mouth gets her in trouble. At the same time, she has no problem calling a spade a spade. She’s a risk taker, which means she’s willing to put herself on the line for justice, but it also places her in danger. She’s an artist, so she’s very creative. This can be a negative when her creative thinking leads her to trouble. So, I’d say she’s pretty well balanced.
Susan: What about your hero, Luke Harper?
Larissa: He’s hotter than a tin roof in August with the ability to expose dimples and smoke up his gray eyes at will. He can take Cherry’s sass and serve it back double quick. Luke’s smart and resourceful, but because he’s the strong, silent type, you never know what he’s thinking. Which can be a problem when there’s a killer on the loose and you don’t know who to trust.
Susan’s GOTTA ASK: What is your favorite scene in Portrait of a Dead Guy?
Larissa’s GOTTA ANSWER: Wow, you ask difficult questions! That’s like asking which child I like better! My favorite scenes to write are the action scenes, but the scene that makes my cheeks heat is one between Cherry and Luke and a takeout order of hot wings. They finally give in to all those old feelings that have been bubbling beneath the surface from the time they meet after all those years apart. Sauce gets everywhere...