Susan Reinhardt to visit Blue Ridge BooksWill read from 'Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle'
Editor's note: Susan Reinhardt, an Asheville Citizen Times columnist, recently released her latest novel "Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle" and will make a stop in Waynesville at 3 p.m. Aug. 18 to sign copies. I recently asked Reinhardt the following questions about her new book.
Tell readers about this story.
Prudy (Dee) Millings, in her 30s, not too gorgeous like the heroines in most novels, but attractive and flawed, but determined to have a happy life. Her crazy Aunt Weepie lives to crash funerals, no matter she has no idea who's even in the coffins. Her contrast is the main character's mother, Lucinda Millings, Aunt Weepie's prudish sister who pretends her grown daughters are virgins and sends Proverbs on the main character's answering machine each day with her own moral attached, which is always really funny. Then, a whole cast of quirky characters enter the picture, including a romance from Dee's long ago past. I like the fact it has a happy ending. It's mostly set in Spartanburg, S.C. and lots of the fun action takes place at the nursing home where Prudy works.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I began the book nearly 10 years ago. The idea actually is based on a real event. A woman, quite courageous, got the nerve to leave her abusive husband, but in a jealous rage, he mowed her down with a car and she crashed into the Ingles plate-glass windows. He stabbed her three times, and yet she lived and went on to became a champion for domestic violence issue. While my book is almost all humor, this woman gave me a place to start. She also has connected with me again since the book came out and spoke at one of my events. Like with me, she said, humor heals her. I want people to read this novel and laugh out loud, but also realize the serious nature of domestic violence. The characters are so zany they make it a funny read.
Are any of the characters base on people you know?
A couple of them are based on people I really know. I think they've figured that out, but no one is mad...yet.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up in a small town near Atlanta called LaGrange, Ga. It was truly idyllic. I was awkward as a middle schooler, got teased a lot for being "weird" and began writing terrible poetry and keeping journals to jot down the angst and feelings. My dad loved good reading, and he also wrote a lot. He would make me read columns in our local paper by a great writer, and I thought, "This would be a great job." But first, I went to nursing school and worked in hospitals and nursing homes for a couple of years. I gave it up to follow my true passion: writing. Plus, I got tired of giving enemas.
Is humorous writing harder than you make it seem?
I've always been a clown, the one who could make people laugh. I sometimes find humor to be so subjective, that what one finds hilarious, another finds offensive. It's a tough line. We all have our favorite humorists. Lewis Grizzard was my first. And I love Sedaris and Celia Rivenbark.
What is it about the South that makes for such great stories?
Because we're all crazy and proud of it. We don't hide our more colorful relatives. We embrace them.
Reinhardt's new novel has been selected as a Top Summer Read 2013 by the University of Georgia and a Pulpwood Queens 2013 selection, and written by the bestselling author of “Not Tonight Honey: Wait Til I’m a Size 6.” Her book can be found at Blue Ridge Books or by ordering it at www.gratefulsteps.org.