Happy Book Birthday! HIJACK IN ABSTRACT by Larissa Reinhart
HP: From Japan to Georgia, Larissa Reinhart is a one woman dynamo. We are lucky to have her here talking about her time spent abroad, life in the golf cart lane, and her newest book HIJACK IN ABSTRACT.
LR: Hey y’all! Thanks for the opportunity to chat.
HP: Larissa, you are quite the globetrotter. Japan, Thailand, and Egypt are just a few of the places you’ve visited. Do you have any plans for future traveling expeditions?
LR: We are always up for travel. We hope to go back to Japan this summer for a few weeks. My girls and I haven’t been back since we returned from living there three years ago, although my husband travels to Japan quite often. We want to visit friends and check out our old haunts. I even hope to do a book signing while I’m there! Right now I’m working on a place to stay that’s not a hotel room.
We’d also love to go back to Europe. My husband and I have been there a few times and took the girls to France when they were babies. However, mainly we travel back and forth within the U.S. Both sides of the family are ten hours away in opposite directions. And I make those drives at least four times a year.
HP: It’s really amazing that you adopted your children from China. Your girls are absolutely beautiful. Did your travels in the East influence your decision to choose China?
LR: Well, thank you! I think they’re pretty cute. Actually our travels partly influenced our decision. Growing up, I babysat two boys adopted from South Korea, so the idea of a multi-cultural home was familiar. We also felt very comfortable with adopting from Asia because we had both studied some Asian history. My husband has a M.A. in Japanese Art History and is fluent in Japanese. We lived in Japan twice before adopting our girls, where I taught English.
However the book, The Lost Daughters of China really influenced our decision. The One Child Policy in China has ravaged that country in the last thirty years. There’s an underpopulation of girls now because of it. In China, the son takes care of his parents. Daughters leave the home to live with their husband’s family. This is particularly true in rural areas and among the poor. When you can only have one child, you’re faced with a terrible choice. These brave parents leave their daughters in places where she’ll be found quickly with the hope they can have a better life. The adopted children are called “Lucky Babies.”
My oldest daughter was found in a tax office at three months old. Can you imagine giving up your baby after three months of caring for her, maybe in secret? My youngest was found on the orphanage steps at a day old. Ads are placed in the local newspapers for about three months in search for the parents. But it’s illegal to give up your child. I know families who can afford to do so, sneak into Hong Kong to have their babies where they won’t be registered. This was all true ten years ago when we adopted our first daughter. Hopefully as China’s economy is improving, this situation will get better.
Sounds like a dystopian novel doesn’t it? But I firmly believe that my husband and I were meant to parent the children we have. It just so happened our daughters were born in China!
HP: Did you all go trick or treating this year for Halloween? And let us know your costumes!
LR: The girls were book characters. My oldest is into Harry Potter (finally! I’ve been waiting!) so she went as Hermione. The little one read Ruby the Red Fairy and went as Ruby. So cute! We live in a planned city created with miles of golf cart paths. Folks walk their dogs by golf cart. I take my children to school by golf cart. It’s crazy. So, of course, they trick-or-treated by golf cart.
*This interview was conducted on a golf cart.
HP: HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third book in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. Does it get easier as the series continues, or more difficult?
LR: I’m nodding to both answers. I wrote a post on this for Romance University about a month ago, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Series Writing.” LOL! You know the characters so well that a lot of that side of the writing is intuitive. Naturally, Cherry would make this or that decision. To keep it fresh is difficult. I write very linearly in terms of picking up where I left off in the last book. However, I want someone who starts reading mid-series to not feel lost without boring the readers who have stuck with the series.
I also have to juggle a lot of characters. It seems everyone (but Cherry) is hooking up with someone new. So some characters are not as prevalent in one book, but will take their turn in another book. The characters have to learn to share or they’ll start falling off the pages. I’m imagining that old nursery rhyme “Roll Over” where they all roll over and one falls out.
Of course, Cherry keeps center stage. As she is want to do.
HP: Having taught English in Japan and World History at home, do you have any plans to return to teaching?
LR: I teach every day from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a break to drive to various activities, then more teaching until dinner time. Third grade is going to kill me.
HP: Recently you wrote the novella “Quick Sketch,” which will appear in HEARTACHE MOTEL along with two other novellas by LynDee Walker and Terri Austin. What was it like collaborating with two other authors? Did you jam out to Elvis during your brainstorming sessions?
LR: I totally jammed to Elvis while writing! Now my kids love Elvis. Collaborating was so much fun. At first, it was a game. What would happen if Cherry met Rose or Nichelle (Terri and LynDee’s characters)? How would we get them together? Could they swap supporting men (just kidding, not really)? When OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE came out, we had an Aha moment. Three interconnecting mysteries. In Memphis (someone threw out Graceland). At Christmas (the only time of year they might all travel to the same place). We pitched the idea to our editor and were amazed when she fell for it. I mean accepted it.
There was a flurry of emails in the beginning. Half of them ridiculous, intent on making each other snort. Actually, most of that brainstorming was ridiculous. We used Pinterest to share research photos. I have no idea where the female impersonators originated. They just showed up one day and suddenly the motel was filled with Elvis’s gals, all in drag.
I love my Priscilla. She may be my favorite character to date.
Each of our mysteries were realized independently. I wanted to do a scam/caper/heist. I think Terri had focused on an Elvis robbery from the beginning. LynDee wanted a theft with “no dead people.” When I finally read Terri and LynDee’s, their mysteries were a surprise. Actually, I think that was the most fun. Reading the harvest created from our crazy brainstorm seed planting.
HP: Finally, tell us your favorite mystery and what draws you to that particular author and the genre as a whole.
LR: That’s not a fair question! I have so many favorites. In the mystery genre, I really prefer British classics from the first half of the twentieth century. Which makes total sense why I would write modern American redneck mysteries, right?
The author I turn back to the most is Agatha Christie. I reread her mysteries because I love the characters, her voice, and the time period. Then I’d have to whittle it down to And Then There Were None, The Secret Adversary, and They Came to Baghdad. I love the plot and overall creepiness in And Then There Were None. I love the characters (Tommy and Tuppence, still my favorite detectives) in The Secret Adversary. And I love the setting and style of They Came to Baghdad.
Thanks so much for this fun interview!