20 Questions with Susan Reinhardt

Susan Reinhardt

20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.

“Maybe certain media types think if a woman enjoys herself in any capacity other than servitude that we ought to feel guilty.” Susan Reinhardt is a bestselling author and humorist whose latest novel The Beautiful Misfits was released this March with Regal House Publishing. Her debut novel, Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle, won the Independent Publisher Book Award for Best Regional Fiction, and Tantor Media recently bought the audio rights. Reinhardt lives near Asheville, North Carolina, and loves her grown kids and her rescue cats. Her quirky talent is riding a unicycle while twirling a baton. She joins me on 20 Questions this week to chat about her new novel and more.

Growing up, did you always want to be a writer? Did you consider any other career paths?

I wrote terrible poetry as a teen, much of it expressing the angst of unrequited love. I always loved writing, but was afraid it wouldn’t pay the bills so I went to nursing school for two years and worked as a nurse technician during college breaks. At the end of my sophomore year at the University of Georgia, I entered their wonderful journalism school and graduated with that degree. I’ve been writing ever since.

Favorite book of all-time?

Ahh, may I have two, please? My favorite comedic satire is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, who won a Pulitzer for it after his death. He never lived long enough to see this masterpiece published. I also loved The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. Her work is what inspired me to write fiction.

The best book you’ve read in the last year?

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. I also loved The Rosie Project. Fish out of water fiction is my favorite. I love quirky characters.

If you could pick one author that’s inspired you the most, who would it be and why?

Definitely Anne Tyler. Her work is more character driven, and she’s such a brilliant writer. She can tap into all the emotions with her words and portrays the nuances of family beautifully.

What time of day are you most inspired?

Midday and late at night. I’m nocturnal to a degree.

One song that you will never be sick of?

“Desperado” by the Eagles. Oh, and “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton. Sorry, I have trouble picking one of anything! That’s why I love buffets.

If you could have one writer, dead or alive, to compose your obituary, who would it be and why?

Lewis Grizzard, the late columnist and humorist from Georgia. He’s so funny that I’m sure he could create a hilarious obit for anyone.

Favorite thing to do on a rainy day?

Binge-watch shows.

Your new novel The Beautiful Misfits has been compared heavily to Steel Magnolias. What do you make of the ways that media typically marketed to and enjoyed by women are frequently called “guilty pleasures”?

I think steamy romances are often called guilty pleasures because they’re more escapist. For a lot of so-called women’s fiction, the material is about a woman’s soul-searching journeys and can be more serious in nature. Thus the “book-club” fiction genre that caters to women. Those really aren’t guilty pleasures, but more studies in human nature. Maybe certain media types think if a woman enjoys herself in any capacity other than servitude that we ought to feel guilty. I highly disagree!

What does the word “beauty” mean to you?

Beauty means an appreciation of one’s inner self and others, and having a decent level of confidence and contentment.

The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t take rejection personally or you’ll give up before the magic happens.

What’s one vice you wish you could give up?

Well, I have a few. I’d say procrastination. I’m still in my robe as I answer these wonderful questions.

One movie that will always make you cry?

P.S. I Love You with Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.

The last series you binge-watched?

Wentworth, a fantastic Australian show with at least eight seasons. Brilliant.

What’s the most challenging part of writing for you?

Making each voice or point of view sound unique and different enough to stand out.

Favorite social media app?

I’m old. So, Facebook.

How would you describe the importance of storytelling, especially in an age of social isolation?

As someone from the South, having lived in South Carolina, Georgia, and the past several decades near Asheville, N.C., storytelling is as much a part of me as the cells in my blood. My entire family and my husband’s are huge storytellers. Not the professional kind that does so onstage, but the types who sit around and can spin a fantastic tale and include all the juicy details. I hate when someone tells a “skeleton” of a story. You know the kind, the story that has you wondering about so many details, you feel you’ve been ripped off. During Covid and isolation, I mainly wrote stories. It was a fertile era for a lot of writers with all that time on our hands. Telling stories is a way to understand the shared experiences of being human.

As a writer and artist, what would you say is the best way to rest or decompress?

Getting outside in nature. For me, it’s going to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, my happy place and a setting in many of my novels. Snorkeling and aqua water are my peacemakers.

One thing that’s been keeping you sane throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?

Knowing that it’s lessening its fearful grip.

What can we expect to see next from you?

I’ve completed my first romantic comedy, heavy on the comedy. It’s called Rebound for Rent and is with agents and publishers as of this month. It’s a fun little book. After that, I’ve got a crappy first draft of a domestic suspense novel I’ll be editing and re-writing.

Follow Susan Reinhardt on Twitter and Instagram, and buy her latest novel The Beautiful Misfits wherever books are sold.