Asheville Arts 101: Susan Reinhardt
Asheville, like anywhere, has a tendency to throw a few curve-balls at you. Doors close and windows open, but when it comes down to it, life is what you make of it. You can allow what others say about you become your reality, or you can be deeply fabulous and make them eat their words. Susan Reinhardt has become one of the South's most beloved authors. Her call-it-as-I-see-it tone and larger-than-life stories have endeared her to our over sized, deep fried hearts and all too accurately represents below the Mason-Dixon line to those unfortunate enough not to live here.
When I first saw the mountains here, I was 25 years old and knew I had to make this my home. I drove to the Asheville Citizen-Times and all but begged them for a reporting job. Three months later they hired me, and I began telling the stories of the people who live here, the poignant or heart-wrenching stories. Or the funny, quirky ones. Like the man who got a DWI on horseback after he and the horse galloped through the McDonald's drive-through and got burgers.
I'll never forgot riding in the car with a 104-year-old woman who called me to ask if I'd take her to get her license renewed.
"My family ain't happy about me driving anymore, so I've been reading your little write-ups in the paper and thought you could come with me," she said. That proved quite the adventure, and no, the feisty former RN did not pass the vision test.
Other than marriage and motherhood, I gave 28 years of my life to this paper, before being suddenly, unexpectedly laid off at age 51. I was old. Big corporations toss the middle-age folks aside for young bucks they can pay less.
Just two months before being disposed like old garbage, I'd released my first novel, "Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle," which led to many book signings, public appearances, speeches, and won a Bronze Medal in the Independent Book Publisher's awards for Southern fiction. The novel remains on the Amazon bestseller list, and was set partly in Asheville, but mostly in Spartanburg, S.C. Interestingly, the novel is based on a woman from Buncombe country who was nearly murdered by her jealous, estranged husband, mowed down by his van in a grocery store parking lot, then stabbed repeatedly.
She survived, and I spent a few days interviewing her for what I thought would be a newspaper feature story. Instead, I took my imagination and crafted what most call a humor novel (mixed with a few dark spots). I now work for Lancome cosmetics at the Belk in Asheville Mall, and am working on a new novel, set here in these mountains, as well as writing monthly for Sophie. I have two children that I adore and a wonderful husband.
Susan Reinhardt is the author of the hilarious and quirky novel "Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle," along with "Not Tonight Honey, Wait 'Til I'm a Size 6", "Don't Sleep with Bubba," and "Dishing with the Kitchen Virgin." Check out all her books, other merchandise, and upcoming events on her website.