Auntie M and Doc watch a show regularly on HGTV called “House Hunters International.” It’s a neat way to see how people live in other parts of the world, what their housing costs are, what the US family moving to another culture faces.
A recent show piqued Auntie M’s interest because it centered on a mystery writer finding housing for her American family in Japan. Auntie M contacted Larissa Reinhart,and here’s her story of being on a reality sho–and trying to write at the same time~
Real Life on a Reality Show by Larissa Reinhart
How real is real life on a reality show? That depends . . .
Actually, my family was lucky to be chosen for HGTV’s House Hunters International. If you don’t know, this is a cable tv show depicting a family or individual moving to or within a non-US location. There’s a brief introduction to the setting and the people moving, but the majority of the show depicts the subjects choosing one home among three.
In our case, our real life depiction was real, although some of it had to be recreated. We moved to Nagoya, Japan, with our two school-aged daughters and “little dog, Biscuit” last year when we were filmed (it took about a year for the show to be edited and shown). It’s the fourth time my husband and I have lived in Japan. Because of his work, my husband has to live in a teeny apartment two hours from Nagoya, where my daughters and I live, where they can attend international school. Biscuit enjoys a jet set life, alternating between his country apartment and city house.
He’s one spoiled dog.
And I am a writer as depicted on television (how much fun is that to say!). As proof, my sixth Cherry Tucker mystery, A Composition in Murder, releases on November 15th. My first Maizie Albright Star Detective novel, 15 Minutes, launches on January 24th, 2017. And in September my Cherry Tucker novella, “The Vigilante Vignette,” was published in a Halloween anthology, Midnight Mysteries.
On House Hunters International, they showed me typing away next to a pile of my books. If only real life was that glamorous. I normally write in an old t-shirt and jeans with my hair up in a clip. My computer barely recognized me for that scene. Plus, I could never focus well enough to write anything for real on camera.
There’s your re-creation.
Ironically, 15 Minutes is about a reality star, Maizie Albright—once a child actress who starred in a famous mystery series, “Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective.” After her star tarnished, Maizie returns home to Georgia, hoping to become a real life detective.
I had the idea and began fleshing out the characters and plot before moving to Japan was even a glimmer of reality. I had basically finished the first draft when my husband contacted House Hunters International to see if we could be on the show. We were HHI fans and he thought it’d be fun.
I said, “Why not, it’s not like moving to Japan is a new experience for us. It’d be great research for this book series.” But in my mind, I thought we didn’t have a chance in hell of making it.
Imagine our surprise when we kept getting callbacks after each step in the extensive application and interview process. The reality of reality tv didn’t really hit us until we began communicating with the producer. And then the director, sound, and cameraman arrived in Nagoya. It was thrilling and nerve-wracking.
My writing life is always a balancing act with children and all the stuff-that-happens-when-you’re-on-deadline. I was actually writing A Composition in Murder at the time, but I took notes for Maizie Albright during our five day shoot. Now I’m writing her second book, 16 Millimeters, with that experience in mind.
I’ve always felt the best part of writing has been the people. Meeting readers and connecting with other writers has enriched my life. That’s also been the best part of my very small, 15 minutes of reality star fame.
I have new friends in our British producer and American director. They’re lovely, interesting, smart women, who I genuinely enjoyed getting to know. I love having met our talented Japanese sound guy and British cameraman and enjoyed learning about their interesting work. Now I follow them virtually (on Facebook) around Asia to see their work on commercials, documentaries, and more HHI shoots.
During our filming, they all had an amazing rapport with my children (and our dog), giving my girls a positive experience, something I worried about before the shoot. My daughters received first hand experience in directing, sound, and filming. Also the hard work and long hours that goes into a show.
And after our episode aired, lost friends who saw the show searched us out on the internet to reconnect. New friends and readers, really lovely people, reached out just to tell me they enjoyed us on the show. It humbles me to realize our fun, family experience has made people smile. This is why I write for publication, to entertain readers, particularly for those wanting to escape from life’s difficulties. I didn’t think about the crossover into a twenty-five minute tv show.
It’s been an amazing real life experience.
P.S. If you have the HGTV app, you can see the episode, “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya.” The show also re-airs occasionally, check here for the listing: http://www.hgtv.com/shows/house-hunters-international/episodes/living-for-the-weekend-in-nagoya-japan#episode-tunein
A 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery and Maizie Albright Star Detective series. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, now live in Nagoya, Japan, but they still call Georgia home. Visit her website and join her newsletter for more book news at http://smarturl.it/larissanewsletter and feel free to friend her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.
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