Thanks so much for having me on MM&M! I love your blog.
Oddly enough, I was living in Japan when I got the idea for Cherry Tucker. We had moved to Nagoya from Georgia and lived there for two years, which was the period of time I got back into writing. I felt drawn to write stories set in Georgia and as a small town gal, the setting for Halo was easy. Sadly, during that two year stint, my father died and I returned to my hometown to live with my mom for a month. The idea of an artist having to do a coffin portrait hopped in my brain somehow. I also culled many small town story ideas. By the time I got back to Japan, Cherry would not leave me alone until I began writing her story. She’s very pushy.
Do you see any of yourself in Cherry (or any of your other characters)? Cherry’s probably more of an alter-ego. Her mouth is a lot quicker on the draw than mine. She’s also much tougher, more courageous, and shorter than me. I have about two and half inches on her. Mainly, I wish I had her stomach. I let her have all the Southern food I crave and know I shouldn’t eat if I want to fit into my current pair of jeans. I eat vicariously through Cherry.
Mysteries set "South of the Sweet Tea Line" are always so much fun. Why do you think Southern fiction is so popular? I think the south is more forgiving of the outspoken and eccentrics. There’s also a great storytelling tradition down here. I’ve lived in Georgia most of my adult life. It’s true that people are friendly in the south. They not only take the time to say “hey,” they will share their thoughts on many subjects and if you seem interested, will tell you their life story in an amusing way. Takes longer to do business, but it’s very entertaining in my opinion!
Who are some of your favorite mystery authors/books? I grew up reading Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Mary Stuart, and Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. My mother was a mystery reader and through her I graduated to Dick Francis, Colin Dexter, PD James, and Martha Grimes. I still love British mysteries, but now I also love American writers like Sharyn McCrumb, Nancy Martin, Carl Hiaasen, and Janet Evanovich. But if I’m having a bad day, I always read Agatha Christie.
How did you come to write for Henery Press? I belong to Kiss of Death, the mystery and romantic suspense chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). Another writer I respect told me about the acquiring editor of Henery Press. I checked out the website, which is adorable, and was impressed with the editor’s work and particularly her cover art. I also learned that she is a respected business woman in another industry. I submitted with blessedly good timing and got my contract offer.
What is a typical writing day for you? I have two girls, seven and ten, so I try to get most of my writing done while they are at school. After school I’m helping with homework and running them to activities in my car. If my husband isn’t home, I’ll also work after they go to bed. Holidays and summer break are hard. I believe my dog and I share the same attention span. In other words, I have trouble concentrating when they’re home.
Can you tell us one thing your readers might be surprised to learn about you? I was almost bitten by a monkey in Thailand. I’m not a fan of monkeys, so my dear friends love to send me monkey pictures. They find it amusing to hear me shriek!
What are you working on now?
My second Cherry Tucker mystery launches May 21, STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW. But I’m getting ready to hand my editor my third Cherry Tucker book, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT (November 2013), and a Cherry Tucker prequel novella for an anthology, THE HEARTACHE MOTEL, that comes out in December. I’ve got a few non-Cherry Tucker projects to work on this summer, a romance and another mystery, and then I’ll begin work on number four.
Synopsis: 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. Between ex-boyfriends, 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.
Purchase from Amazon here.
Larissa loves small town characters with big attitudes, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. Her Cherry Tucker Mystery series, beginning with PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (Henery Press), received a 5/5 Star review from the Examiner.com, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial finalist. The second book, STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW, arrives in May 2013 followed by HIJACK IN ABSTRACT. A Cherry Tucker prequel will appear in a December 2013 mystery anthology, THE HEARTACHE MOTEL.
After moving around the midwest, the South and Japan, Larissa now lives in Georgia with her husband, daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn Terrier. 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 http://theexpatreturneth.blogspot.com. You can find Larissa chatting on Facebook on her author page; on Twitter as RisWrites; and on Goodreads. She loves pinning on her Cherry Tucker and other boards at Pinterest.