Mystery We Write Tour: Larissa Reinhart

Larissa Reinhart 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. For more about Larissa, check out her blog

What characters in the mystery/suspense genre inspired you?
I’m a big fan of traditional English mysteries and have always loved Agatha Christie’s characters, particularly Tommy and Tuppence. I also love Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse and Ngaio Marsh’s Inspector Roderick Alleyn. The more modern mystery characters I like are Martha Grimes’ Inspector Richard Jury and his friend Melrose Plant, and Nancy Martin’s Blackbird sisters series.

What's the best advice you've been given as a writer? 
Stephen King’s On Writing has probably had the most influence on me, although I don’t know if you can call it advice. What struck me was how he likes to put his characters into terrible situations and then see how they get out of them. This is what I always strive to do while writing, although there are times when I don’t see how they can get out of the situation. But so far, they have managed to figure something out. Let’s hope that trend continues!

What mysteries or strange occurrences in your real life have inspired your writing life? 
I’ve always read mysteries, starting with the Bobsey Twins. However, when I was 10, one of my friends was murdered and buried in a cornfield next to my house. I’m from a farming village of 600 people, so you can imagine how it rocked our world. (The perp was caught quickly, the sociopathic grandson of the lady who lived down the street). At 10, I wasn’t smart enough to feel frightened, but it did make me curious about the psychology of killers. My mystery, Portrait of a Dead Guy, takes place in a small town, but the murder I knew from childhood isn’t represented here. I actually got the idea of an artist having to paint a coffin portrait after my father’s funeral. My Cherry Tucker mysteries take a more humorous look at small town crimes. Perhaps the grisly murder I knew from childhood made me curious, but I feel unable to put such a gruesome crime into a story.

Leave a comment below to win an eBook edition of Portrait of a Dead Guy. Be sure to visit Evelyn Cullet's blog to read a a sexy encounter between my Remain In Light characters Martin and Christian. 


Terri said…
Congrats on the book, Larissa. You do a wonderful job with humorous writing in PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY.
Thanks Terri. I have to use humor when writing about tragedy or the path would get very dark for me.

And thanks Collin for having me on today! Glad to share a spot with another Atlanta author!
Oh, my goodness, how horrible to have a childhood friend murdered. It probably affected you more than you realize. It's been interesting learning more about you and your books.
cmgren said…
No one should lose a friend so young. I am happy that it got you interesting in writing mysteries. :)
Thanks Marilyn and cmgren.
It is horrible. Evil exists everywhere, but feels especially startling to find it in a small town. This was 30 years ago, so life has gone on, but I don't think anyone could ever be the same since. I remember her mom coming to our school to talk about it. Kind of bizarre to have those memories mixed in with the typical childhood remembrances.
Julie said…
I love your humorous take on small town crimes and find it interesting what happened in your childhood. Your book is GREAT Larissa, congratulations!!

Julie Gallo
Editorial Intern
Henery Press
M.M. Gornell said…
Larissa, I share your love for British mysteries, and some of my earliest and fondest memories are from those authors (some of which you mentioned). That poor child's murder during your childhood I'm sure will be with you forever, even though you don't write directly about it. Your post made me think--a good thing. Excellent post.


Alicia Tonne said…
Oh, Agatha is one of my writer heroes! (As she should be!) Now, I'm going to check out the other authors you mentioned. Great interview, Larissa! I can't wait for more mysteries from that clever head of yours!
Thanks Julie, Alicia and Madeline!
I didn't even mention Dick Francis. Have a lot of those, too!
Jake said…
Glad to know your childhood loss of a friend helped make you writer you are now. Thank you for letting your readers know more about your life.
Thanks Jake. I think you gather experiences and they sort their way out on paper. At least for me, anyway.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Larissa,
Sometimes I wonder why I need to work through some small town or down-home crime or haunting situation. I never experienced the awful thing that happened to you. However, in my never-still imagination, it seems there is something so intriguing and upsetting about a place that's supposed to be "cozy" but harbors secrets and possible menace all the same.
Shelly Frome said…
I don't know why I signed it "Anonymous" My name is Shelly Frome, part of the Murder We Write kindred spirits.
Hey Shelly! I don't know, the anonymous signing kind of went with the spookiness of small town crimes! I agree, we tend to think cozy with small towns, but in my experience there's a grittiness to them as well. Small towns have desperate people in them, same as big cities. And suburbs just hides those kind of folks in a better looking facade.
marja said…
Larissa, I enjoy anything with humor. I'm glad you've been able to move on from your childhood experience. I can't even imagine what people went through. Thanks for sharing!
Marja McGraw
Thanks Marja! I'm a fan of humor, too!
What a horrible thing to happen to your friend and to everyone who knew her. No wonder you now write mysteries. But I'm glad you write with humor. We can always use a bit of humor in our lives.

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