Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Q&A with Susan Reinhardt



Susan Reinhardt is the author of the new novel The Beautiful Misfits. Her other books include the novel Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle. She lives near Asheville, North Carolina.


Q: In the book’s acknowledgments, you mention your son as one inspiration behind The Beautiful Misfits--can you say more about that?


A: My son, Niles Reinhardt, is now 30, but for nearly half of his life, he battled addiction, mainly alcohol. His brave and at times devastating journey inspired me to dedicate The Beautiful Misfits to him. He helped me with research and introduced me to other addicts who opened up and told me their stories. Some recovered. Others didn’t. Sadly, street drugs today are laced with deadly fentanyl, and many don’t survive even one bad hit.


My son entered a few treatment centers, and finally, got clean. He credits much of his recovery to therapy, medication, and CBD products. I’m so proud of him. A couple of years ago, he opened his own business, CBD and More Company in Fletcher, North Carolina.


Q: How did you create your character Josie Nickels?


A: Writers draw from what they know and their life experiences. I worked for nearly 30 years as a feature writer and syndicated columnist for a major newspaper chain. When I was let go during company-wide lay-offs, the kind that toss older employees out to pasture, I was still writing books but needed a part-time job. And I wanted it to be a fun job.


I was hired by Lancôme, the French luxury cosmetics company, and worked for five years as a beauty advisor and regional makeup artist for them. My only prior experience in the field had been makeovers I did for the girls in my dorm. They paid me in pizza and cheap beer. I knew with all the layers of humor and drama at the mall makeup counters, I had to feature this as a setting in a novel.

Josie, the main character in The Beautiful Misfits, is a former Emmy-winning TV anchorwoman who falls from grace during an on-air meltdown and ends up as a beauty advisor for a luxe line in a mall.


Q: The author Robert Tate Miller said of the novel, “Susan is a wonderfully gifted storyteller who combines biting wit and laugh-out-loud humor with a beautifully moving writing style. She can turn tears of laughter into the other kind in a single paragraph.” What do you think of that description, and what do you see as the role of humor in the book?


A: I love Robert and we were in college together at the University of Georgia. He’s such an amazing writer and his movies are filled with hope and humor, but also don’t shy away from real-life issues.


When I read novels, I want them to contain humor, especially if the material is dark or heavy. When I write novels, I want my readers to experience every emotion. Dark and dreary isn’t my thing. Happy, satisfying endings are a must in what I write, and humor is a tool that gives readers a chance to release the pressure valve, have a laugh, and bond with the characters.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Great question. I rewrote this novel many times, even eliminating an entire secondary character at one point.


I knew the ending would be a great one. I work on endings as much as I do the opening chapters and the middle of the book. I hate when I’m reading a great book and it ends either on a downer note or so abruptly, I’m left thinking pages must be missing. With The Beautiful Misfits, I knew the ending early in the writing process so all I had to do was fine-tune the final chapter.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m doing one more edit on a novel I finished a year ago. It’s had so many titles, but the latest is Rebound for Rent. It’s my first romcom. I also have two other novels in various stages of editing and will shop them in the coming year. One of those is humorous women’s fiction and the other is romantic suspense.


Q: Anything else we should know?      


A: Just that I’m grateful to those who read my books and would love to connect on social media. I answer all messages. Readers and other writers are some of the most wonderful people I know. I am also available to Zoom or chat with book clubs and love giving away fun author swag for those who invite me to speak to their book clubs and events. Most of my swag is related to the beauty industry.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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