Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Release Day! The Beautiful Misfits by Susan Reinhardt ~ My Thoughts and an Interview #TheBeautifulMisfits @SusanGReinhardt

Happy Release Day!

Congrats Susan
on the release today of
The Beautiful Misfits!

The Beautiful Misfits by Susan Reinhardt
Contemporary Women Fiction, 254 pages
Published March 7, 2023 by Regal House Publishing

Eighty-four seconds can change your life. Or destroy it. 

Josie Nickels is an Emmy-winning news anchor, poised to rise through the ranks of television journalism. On a bitter March evening on live TV, the pressures and secrets burbling behind the closed doors of her ridiculous Victorian mansion explode and the overwhelmed journalist spills family secrets like a Baptist at altar call. 

The aftermath costs her much more than a career. It robs her of a beloved son—a preppy, educated millennial trapped in the deadly world of addiction. Desperate for a new start and a way to save her son, Josie packs up her pride, her young daughter, and accepts a new job slinging cosmetics at a department store make-up counter with other disgraced celebs. In the gorgeous mountains of Asheville N.C., known for hippies, healings, and Subarus, Josie is faced with a choice for her son: Take a chance on a bold, out-of-the-ordinary treatment plan for her son or lose him forever. 

This heart-wrenching and, at times, hilarious novel, will delight fans of book-club women’s fiction and inspire and give hope to those with addicted sons and daughters. 

My thoughts about The Beautiful Misfits ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"In ten minutes, Josette Nickels would go live with the day's news, just as she'd done every evening without incident for the past twenty years."

The Beautiful Misfits is a heart-warming look at the power of a mother's love while also being a heart-wrenching story of a son's addiction and the effects that it has on family. The story is a beautifully written tale showing struggle and drama while also taking the reader on an amusing ride through the lives of Josie and her family, family that means the world to her.

This was a story that was at times a bit hard to read, with the whole drug addiction aspect, but also very enlightening because of those very same things. I came away with a little bit better understanding of how drug addiction affects all of those involved. 

The Beautiful Misfits was a very enjoyable story and I highly recommend it. 

I received a copy of The Beautiful Misfits from Books Forward and this is my honest opinion.


An Interview with
Susan Reinhardt

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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/

Connect with Susan


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