Let's Get Lost in Larissa Reinhart's Story

Larissa began her writing career in second grade when she sold her first publication to a neighbor for a nickel. After moving around the midwest, Japan, and the south, 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. PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. 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.

The book...

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.

 What they're saying...

“An entertaining mystery full of quirky characters and solid plotting. Larissa Reinhart writes with panache and flair...Highly recommended for anyone who likes their mysteries strong and their mint juleps stronger!” -- Jennie Bentley, NY Times bestselling author of Flipped Out
“Don’t miss Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart! Portrait is pure enjoyment, a laugh out loud mystery with some Southern romance thrown in. Five stars out of Five.” -- Lynn Farris, National Mystery Review Examiner at Examiner.com
“Laugh-out-loud funny and as Southern as sweet tea and cheese grits, Larissa Reinhart’s masterfully crafted whodunit, Portrait of a Dead Guy, provides high-octane action with quirky, down-home characters and a trouble-magnet heroine who’ll steal readers’ hearts and have them begging for the next Cherry Tucker Mystery.” --Debby Giusti, author of The Captain's Mission and The Colonel's Daughter 
“Larissa Reinhart's debut sparkles with wit. A fun, fast-paced read and a rollicking start to her Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. If you like your stories southern-fried with a side of romance, this book's for you!” -- Leslie Tentler, author of Midnight Caller

Get your copy...




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? 
Larissa: Thanks for having me! I’m from a small farming village in northern Illinois called Andover. Growing up there gave me a yearning to see the rest of the world and become a big city girl, but it also instilled a love for small town values. And in hindsight, a view as to how varied and interesting small town people really are.

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).

Susan: Ha! I did not know that! My, my... I’ve spent right much time in the Mid-West myself. Small towns there feel very much like small towns in the South to me. Would you agree?
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.

Susan: What is something that not a lot of people know about you but you WISH more people COULD know?
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. 
Susan: Where is your very favorite vacation spot?
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: Do you have any unusual talents we should know about? We had someone here a month or so back who can peel and eat a banana with her toes. Can you top that?
Larissa: Not me, but my husband can fit four or five quarters in one nostril. Does that count? It’s how he wooed me in college.
Susan: Now, that is an interesting courting ritual. Moving right along...  Is it true that you play cowbell in an all-girl band?
Larissa: In my head, I totally rock the cowbell! Isn’t it true you play the drums?
Susan: Why, as a matter of fact, I do. But this is your day--we'll discuss my talents as a percussionist another time. You have what I like to call a well-rounded education. I like to call it that because I changed majors so many times, but I believe you have me beaten. In order, please, what all have you studied?
Larissa: Oh my goodness, are you sure we have time? I started in journalism and even worked at a small town paper in high school, but hated calling people for interviews, so by the time I got to college, I thought I should probably try something else!
I worked my way to majoring in history, but minored in anthropology. The anthropology department was small, but we got a visiting professor to teach archaeology, which really excited me. I was in my Indiana Jones phase. We did a dig of an old woolen mill, which was really cool. I even did an independent study class where I traveled to Egypt.
But ancient languages are very daunting for some one who has trouble pronouncing English. I also loved art history, and actually did my senior history thesis paper on abstract expressionism. 
I started grad school in art history, which my husband was also studying (he was also a history major & we married after graduation). I realized we’d never work in the same state if we both majored in art history. This led me on a whole new path in art and design, and finally teaching history because that’s where I had the most credits. Which is full circle because my parents were teachers. My dad taught history.

Susan: Whew! That made my head spin--but, I did ask.
Your debut novel, Portrait of a Dead Guy, is the first in a series about an artist named Cherry Tucker. You studied art history--do you paint?
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.

Susan: I do love that goat... So, this just came to you, that someone might do such a thing as paint a dead relative? Was drinking involved? If so, what were you sipping? I need to get some of that.
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: I often break into song. My kids call it “Momma’s rocking out again.” But they secretly love it.
Susan: Really? Gosh, I do that, too. But my kids call it something else, and I'm pretty sure they don't care for it. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? Been skydiving? Ridden a bull?
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...


Connect with Larissa online...

She and her writing friends also chat weekly about books on their Little Read Hens Facebook page and littlereadhens.com.

Larissa has a question for you...

Do you like it when a book in a series ends with a romantic cliffhanger (for example, in a love triangle, you don’t know which guy the heroine will choose)?
BTW, Cherry Tucker loves to eat Southern food and also loves to “embellish” her clothing. On Pinterest, I’m always looking for great Southern recipes and DIY ideas to restyle ordinary clothes that would fit Cherry’s budget but lets her add personal style. If you find a recipe or DIY clothing idea you think Cherry would love, put an @LarissaReinhart in the comment section and let me know. I’ll pin it to my Southern Fixin’s and/or Cherry’s Wardrobe boards and might use them in a future book!


  1. I like cliffhangers when it;s the middle book in a series. I do not like cliffhangers in the last book.

    1. Hey Tammy,
      I totally agree. I hate it when they end a series and you're just supposed to guess what happened to the characters. That's the worst! After all that emotional investment, you feel like you know these characters!

      Thanks for stopping in!

  2. Thanks Susan for the fun interview! And thanks to all the GLIAS folks for having me on today! Love your blog!

    1. Larissa, thank you for doing this! I'm so happy you're on Get Lost in a Story today! This was such a fun interview!

  3. "Controversial conversation is kept to a minimum in the Midwest." As a fellow "Nouveau Southern" originally from Ohio, that made me laugh!!! I'm still laughing actually.

    As for romantic cliffhangers, I'm alright with them (only in a series, of course.) But it does make me want to go over to the author's house and cook her a month of dinners so she can have some more time to HURRY UP AND WRITE THE NEXT BOOK!! (hint. hint.)

    1. Ha! That made me laugh, too, Anise! I have noticed in my travels in the midwest that folks--for the most part--steer clear of contorversial conversation.

      Yes, Larissa, get that next book written. We need more Cherry Tucker! :)

    2. Well come on over and cook dinner. Also please make my husband finish this kitchen remodel. That would help a lot...

      My mom constantly told me, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." But we really mean, "wait until you're sure that person has left the room." :)

  4. Cliffhangers? Not in books, especially not at the end of a book. Forces me to wait for the next book in the series to publish to find out what happened. Sounds more like a TV program season ending episode.

    Enjoyed reading your post today too.

    1. Thanks Karen!

      What about relationship cliffhangers? I can think of quite a few that make me bite my nails as much as plot cliffhangers.

  5. Larissa! That Susan Boyer tried to stump you with some great questions, and you were right back at her! Welcome to get lost in a story, and the next time you travel, I hope you'll slip me in your pocket. I have PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY downloaded on my Kindle and as soon as I'm through with my own book which is due, I'm going to read and read and read.... :) Cliffhangers, absolutely I love them. Leaves the reader ready and anticipating the author's next book. Congratulations on your success with Henery Press. Toasting my cyber champagned to you and thanking you profusely for being with us today on Get Lost in a Story!

    1. Thank so much Donnell! I owe you a lot for introducing me to Henery. It's been a great match. I hope you enjoy Cherry Tucker. She's a lot of fun to write.

    2. Donnell, you know I would never try to stump Larissa.:) She is my house-mate. Also, she is so funny, you have to love her. We've had much fun with this.:)

      I'm joining you in that cyber toast!


    3. So so pleased it worked out and that Henery has excellent taste :) cheers back at you! :)

  6. Great interview! I don't like cliffhangers at the end of a book especially if it's a romantic cliffhanger between the H/H. It leaves readers (IMO) without the happily ever after ending. I get that many authors do that so that readers will want to buy the second/third book etc.

    But if the reader likes the author's writing, then they're going to keep coming back regardless of whether there's a cliffhanger or not.

    My two cents ; - )

  7. Thanks Sonya! Good point. I like a little squirming at the end myself for romantic cliffhangers, but that's me. And perhaps some authors leave you hanging, because they're also not sure what's going to happen? hmmm

    Thanks for commenting!

  8. I can't get over you eating cow rectum, or raw horse! Ugh!

    As far as romantic cliffhangers, I don't think I care either way. I usually have my own favorite for the character to fall in love with, so I just assume it will be him/her. Perfect example...Stephanie Plum and Morelli or Ranger. In my mind, she should wind up with Morelli - but I can sure see why she's tempted by Ranger!

    1. Hey Kathy! Thanks for stopping in!
      I feel the same way about Morelli & Ranger. And I love Janet E.'s cliffhangers. Her books are all about Morelli and Ranger for me, tho...

  9. Love the interview, Larissa! Portrait of a Dead Guy was a hilarious book and I can't wait to read Brunswick. And you are the best imaginary cow bell player ever!

    1. Thanks Terri! I'm so glad you liked the cow bell performance. It's really an album enhancer.

  10. Hi Larissa!

    Cliff hangers in a series? Eh, not so much. I've read series books where the secondary characters have established a relationship that's not resolved by the end of the story, which means they'll hopefully have a story of their own.

    I've eaten duck tongues and other strange "delicacies", but never had raw whale or horse, or the ruminant part you mentioned.

    1. Hey Jennifer,
      I like spin off stories in a series, which works great with romances.

      I think you are missing out on a few dishes to add to your palate!

  11. I don't know about cliffhangars but I like it when it's not clear who the heroine would choose....

    1. Me, too, May! Maybe it's just me but I like to imagine who she may choose and what might happen! Thanks for stopping by!