Award-winning author’s humorous and heartfelt novel explores second chances for lives upended by addiction.
************Humorist Susan Reinhardt, an award-winning Southern fiction writer whose upcoming novel, “The Beautiful Misfits,” has just been selected for Mariel Hemingway's new book club.
PRAISE FOR THE BEAUTIFUL MISFITS:
“In ‘The Beautiful Misfits,’ Susan Reinhardt has penned a powerful novel that encapsulates how the bond of motherhood can unravel, fray to the point of breaking, yet–with love, hope and hard-work–be reborn into something much stronger than we can imagine.”–Renea Winchester, bestselling and award-winning author of “Outbound Train”
“This book club must-read tells an emotionally charged story of one mother’s fight to save her son in this beautifully written tale full of heart and hope!”–Ciara Knight, USA Today bestselling author of the Sweetwater County romance series
“With grace, humor, and honesty, Susan Reinhardt delivers an important novel about the tragic opioid and drug addiction gripping our country. But, at its core, ‘The Beautiful Misfits’ is the story of a mother’s unconditional love for her son and her unwillingness to give up on him. Weaving humor and heartbreak, Reinhardt reveals what it’s like for a woman to walk the almost indistinguishable lines between loving and enabling and letting go and holding fast. This is a book with heart and hope. Don’t miss it!” –Tracey Buchanan, author of “Toward the Corner of Mercy and Peace”
“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. You’ll love ‘The Beautiful Misfits.’”–Robert Tate Miller, bestselling author and movie screenwriter for CBS, NBC, Disney, and Hallmark including films such as “When Christmas was Young,” “Three Days,” and “A Summer Romance”
“Reinhardt writes from the heart on the serious problem of rampant drug addiction—but always with the warmth and humor her long-time readers know to expect. A wealth of finely drawn characters populate this lively look at a single mother fighting her own demons and trying with all her might to save her drug-addicted son.”–Vicki Lane, author of “And the Crows Took Their Eyes” and the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian mysteries
“In her newest novel, ‘The Beautiful Misfits,’ Susan Reinhardt wraps all the emotions with beautiful imagery. She balances darkness and pain with the light and joyful moments of a family coping with addiction and secrets. Throughout her novel, while all her characters have their own struggles, she continues to give us signs of hope and signals that sometimes life works itself out long before we are conscious of its plans. A beautiful read where you connect with the beautiful misfits. This is one story that touched my heart.”–Lee St. John, #1 Amazon bestselling author and Georgia Author of the Year
“The Beautiful Misfits is a completely unique romp, endlessly entertaining, filled with heart, and hysterically funny. Reinhardt introduces us to a complex and sometimes kooky cast of characters led by Josie, a flawed but also quick-witted former news anchor trying to get her life back on track. ‘The Beautiful Misfits’ grabs you from the moment Josie melts down on the set of her news show and doesn’t let go until she finds a way to rescue the person she loves most. A former humor columnist, Reinhardt’s talents shine here and put her on par with Fannie Flagg and Rebecca Wells. Her misfits are definitely worth getting to know.”–Tracy Beckerman, Amazon bestselling author of “Barking at the Moon: A Story of Life, Love, and Kibble”
“Susan Reinhart is a Southern treasure, and one of those rare authors who can evoke laughter and tears. ‘The Beautiful Misfits’ also reveals her keen eye for detail and a well-turned phrase. It's beautifully written and shows another side of Reinhardt’s gifts. This is a poignant tale you won't soon forget.”–Karin Gillespie, author of “Love Literary Style”
ABOUT THE BEAUTIFUL MISFITS:
When an overwhelmed Atlanta news anchor accidentally spills her son’s struggles with addiction on air like a Baptist at altar call, she destroys her career, alienates her son, and ends up selling makeup at a mall with other fallen, disgraced celebs.
Retreating to the North Carolina mountains, she’s ready to risk everything, taking a chance on a man from her past whose seemingly outlandish rehab center may be her last chance to repair her and her son’s strained relationship.
Perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews, Marian Keys, and Kristin Hannah, this heart-wrenching novel about a mother’s unflinching love for her son masterfully weaves heartbreak with humor, exploring what it’s like for a woman to walk the almost indistinguishable lines between loving and enabling, letting go and holding fast.
AN INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN REINHARDT:
Why did you want to write about the opioid epidemic? Is the novel based on a true story?
For years I’ve been a mother in the frustrating and heart-breaking trenches of addiction. My son, now 30 and addiction-free, spent more than ten years struggling with everything from alcohol to opioids to the toxic and legal substances being abused today known as Kava and Kratom. His courageous fight to become clean inspired the novel, though the young man in the book isn’t actually based on my son.
What I learned through interviewing dozens of addicts and visiting treatment centers, some that my son was in, is that how the United States treats addiction isn’t working. Twelve Step programs are great for some, a minority. The real healing is in treating the addict as an individual and tailoring programs to match that person. Such as programs that include medication, harm reduction, and tools and educational and vocational opportunities so that those who leave the program can make a living and better their living conditions. The rehab in my novel is funded by volunteers, grants, and the community and is a working, money-making “resort” and organic farm featuring camper rentals. Addicts may stay for up to a year instead of the old model of 28 days. That's not enough time.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for those who may be in a similar situation as your protagonist, Josie?
So many people are touched and broken by addiction within their families. Moms are particularly vulnerable to the depression and guilt that ensues when their child goes against everything they’ve been taught, all that good parenting, and then slides into this dark world that often kills them. Drugs today aren’t what they were a generation ago. Even cocaine is now laced with the extremely deadly substance, fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. My other advice for moms is don’t blame yourself, but do all you can to show your addicted loved one that you love them, and are always available to help them get treatment. Tell them you believe in them.
But if they refuse help to get better, don’t send them money, gift cards or anything else they can sell. Provide the basics: food, shelter (if there’s no threat of violence to you or anyone else in the home) and clothing. Always, always, tell them you love them. So many mothers would literally die to have an extra day, an hour, another minute, with the child they lost to an overdose.
And please, find a support group. One can’t do this alone.
What was the research and writing process like? Do you plot and outline? Or go by the seat of your pants?
I spent much longer on “The Beautiful Misfits” than I did on any of the other books and novels I’ve written. Much of it was written while my son was still fighting his addiction. I also spent a lot of time in deep research exploring every avenue of addiction and treatment options. And I interviewed those who were in current or past addiction, young men and women whose stories brought me to tears and gave me hope. What I learned most is that none of those with addiction issues wants to use drugs. They wish they could stop. They cry out to God and anyone who listens for help. But it’s too strong a disease to just pray away.
As for my writing process, I was working during the writing of this novel. I was a regional makeup artist for Lancome and loved it. My first draft was during NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month held every November. I spent the next few years doing countless rewrites. I hired a professional editor for an assessment and did more rewriting. As for outlining, I usually have a loose outline, but it always changes as I proceed.
Why did you choose a cosmetics counter as the setting for much of the book? And as a trained makeup artist for Lancome, can you tell us more about working in this industry?
Addiction is such a heavy topic and so many of the books that focus on addiction are depressing. I wanted “The Beautiful Misfits” to be both poignant and hopeful, with humor balancing tragedy.
I chose the cosmetic counter setting because the work there is light, funny, and many of those working in the field are hilarious and quirky people, smart and delightful. The banter and shenanigans at the makeup counters perfectly balanced the darker material.
It’s odd how I went from being a syndicated humor and human interest columnist for decades to slinging brow pencils and serums. I was laid off in my fifties from the newspaper chain I worked for and had always loved doing people’s makeup in college. They paid me in beer and pizza. I heard about an opening in Lancome, my favorite department-store brand, and they hired me, sent me to train in New York City, and became a wonderful company to work for. And I’d like to say this…the cosmetics’ industry, or at least Lancome, celebrates diversity on all levels, including age, race, sexual orientation and anything else. Many of my co-workers were older.
You went from writing for newspapers and magazines to writing humorous books and thought-provoking novels. Was what that transition like and how did your background further your novel writing skills?
I’d always wanted to write, since I was twelve and started journals about the boy who didn’t love me. The one I crushed on for five years 🙂
Newspapers were hopping back in the early 80s and I loved the work. I got to cover everything from hurricanes to airshows, even flying in a stunt plane during one assignment. When I turned thirty, I decided to write a novel. My son was a newborn and I wrote late at night after work. That novel got me a great literary agent, but he couldn’t sell it. He suggested I write humorous non-fiction, a book of essays similar to those by David Sedaris or Laurie Notaro and Celia Rivenbar. We sold that book, “Not Tonight Honey: Wait till I’m a Size Six” in a three-book deal. My next novel was a rewrite of the one my agent couldn’t sell, my award-winning debut, “Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle.” Since then, I’ve been writing only novels. Decades of writing for newspapers and magazines taught me how to meet deadlines and write every day. It also gave me the discipline to slog through multiple drafts.
Your first novel, “Chimes From a Cracked Southern Belle,” won awards and was a bestseller. “The Beautiful Misfits'' is your second published work of fiction. Are there any overarching themes connecting these novels?
I think so. Both novels deal with heavy topics and themes and both use a lot of humor for levity. In Chimes, the protagonist was nearly killed by her abusive preacher husband. But the crazy cast of hilarious characters, mostly her family members, made the novel an uplifting rather than depressing read. And this is also how “The Beautiful Misfits” was crafted. When writing novels, my goal is to give a reader all the feels: joy, tears, anger, redemption, hope, and love.
What’s next for you?
I just finished NaNoWriMo and wrote my first romantic suspense novel. It’s in that crappy first-draft stage and I’ll work on it again beginning in January. Meanwhile, I have a completed romantic comedy called “The Half Wife” which I’m currently shopping to agents and publishers. I’m also planning to travel with both of my adult children. Now that my son is clean, we’ve done a few wonderful trips together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
SUSAN REINHARDT is a best-selling author known for her gift of taking serious topics and infusing them with humor and heart. She is especially praised for creating casts of unforgettable, quirky characters who stay in readers’ minds long after the final page.
Reinhardt’s books vary from book-club women’s fiction to romantic comedies and romantic suspense for the over-thirty crowd.
Her debut novel, “Chimes From a Cracked Southern Belle,” won Best Regional Fiction in the Independent Publishers Book Awards international contest, and was a No. 1 Amazon bestseller.
The novel was a top summer reading pick and a book-club favorite.
Her second novel, “The Beautiful Misfits,” releases from Regal House in March 2023 and is perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Kristin Hannah.
Her non-fiction humor titles include “Not Tonight Honey: Wait ‘Til I’m a Size 6,” praised by Publishers Weekly as filled with “lyrical prose” that’s “fun and fresh,” and by Booklist who lauded her work as “ranging from side-splitting to achingly poignant.”
She lives in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC, and is on her second and final husband.
She has two grown children, three steps, a granddaughter, and a rescue cat. Learn more at: https://susanreinhardt.com/
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