I'm so happy to welcome Larissa Reinhart back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery series. A COMPOSITION IN MURDER, the sixth book in the series, was released November 15th.
Kathy: In A COMPOSITION IN MURDER Cherry meets the CEO and founder of Meemaw’s Tea. Are you a tea drinker?
LR: Hey Kathy! Thanks so much for having me on! I am a tea drinker, although I guzzle 2 cups of coffee first thing before I switch to tea. I love a cup of hot tea in the winter, but I drink cold tea year round.
Kathy: Personally I love tea, though I can't stand sweet tea. Where do you stand when it comes to sweet tea?
LR: You don’t live in Georgia for twenty some years and not drink sweet tea. It’s just ingrained. But I don’t add sugar or sweeter to my unsweet tea. I either drink real sweet tea or not at all.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite type of tea?
LR: For cold tea, Oolong is my favorite. I became addicted to drinking it the first time we lived in Japan twenty years ago. You can buy the big tea bags of Oolong for brewing cold tea just like you can get Tetley’s in the US. I do like green tea, too. For hot tea, I like the fruity ones. Right now my favorite is Lupicia’s Paradise. It’s a black tea with a combo of tropical fruits.
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
LR: Because I grew up in a small town, I’ve always spent time with senior citizens. My neighbors and most of the parishioners at our church were elderly. It was very normal for me to “have coffee” each week with our next-door neighbor (who also was my childhood babysitter) and I loved listening to her stories. It seemed quite natural for Cherry Tucker to do the same. Halo’s a small, country town, too (even though it’s much bigger than my hometown). And I really wanted to do a mystery involving a will, so that paired well with Cherry’s involvement with senior citizens. I created Halo House, the ritzy senior residence, as a setting where she could have friendships with seniors and get involved in a murder mystery.
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Cherry Tucker?
LR: Cherry’s in a Halloween novella, “The Vigilante Vignette,” which just came out this fall in the cozy anthology MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES. I had a lot of fun with Cherry chasing a Catwoman between Halloween parties because she could use her art background to design fun costumes while trailing a thief.
Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?
LR: I suppose I fall in between, but I’m definitely more pantser than plotter. I like the term organic writer actually. I have my main characters, get to know them first, and then start with the incident that triggers the plot. Things to come to me as I’m writing whereas if I just sit down to plot, not much happens. I try to understand the motivations of all the major players including the villain and then base each scene on how I think they’d react.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
LR: The first mystery in my new Maizie Albright Star Detective, 15 MINUTES, releases January 24th. It’s another humorous mystery set in Georgia, except Maizie is an ex-teen and reality star who’s left Hollywood to return to her hometown to become a detective. In 15 MINUTES, Maizie’s involved in a missing person’s case while trying to get the local private detective to mentor her. She’s a lot of fun to write, too, although different in personality than Cherry Tucker, obviously. I’d call Maizie earnestly optimistic despite all the problems that seems to befall her. She finds the local private detective, Wyatt Nash, very hunky, but he’s not interested in hiring someone who’s been a tabloid front page story, so Maizie has her work cut out for her. She has ten days to secure her job for the terms of her probation set by a California judge who sent her back to Georgia in the first place. Doesn’t help she loses his client’s wife during the second day nor that her stage-monster mother wants her back on the reality show and will stop at nothing to ruin Maizie’s chance for a new career.
Right now I’m writing Maizie Albright’s second book, 16 MILLIMETERS. After that, I’m going back to work on my first romantic comedy, BISCUIT GIRL IN NOODLE LAND. Another Georgia heroine but is set in Japan. She’s bringing her love of Southern food with her although falling in love is not on the menu. I started Biscuit Girl last year but stopped to finish edits on A COMPOSITION IN MURDER and 15 MINUTES.