Four years ago if you had asked me would I envision myself interviewing writers of GLBT fiction to publish weekly, I would have laughed out loud. However, that is exactly what I have been doing now since the advent of the online social group I created and moderate: Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction. This week, I get the chance to interview a writer I greatly admire as a gushy fan of his writing, and who I finally got to meet personally when attending GRL 2013 in Atlanta this year; Rick R. Reed – Interview by Jon Michaelsen;
Where do you live?
Seattle, WA. More specifically, we live in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood, just above Lake Union (and, for the movie buffs, directly above the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat).
Writers rarely like to toot their own horns; seriously! What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
Oh, I toot my own horn all the time and get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Every man should toot his own horn at least once daily, don’t you think?
But seriously, folks… My greatest accomplishment? The promoting, horn-tooter in me would like to point to this or that book and count the reasons why it’s so special. But actually, my greatest accomplishment is raising a wonderful son and seeing him happily grown up and married to an amazing man. Right along with that is my own marriage to my husband. Even as recently as just a few years ago, I might not have believed I could ever write those words I just did. I guess the word family would be my answer when asked what my greatest accomplishment is.
Without getting too personal, can you share a little about your home life?
Well, I just did. At our house, we are all Cancers, even our dog, Lily (an adorable Boston terrier) so we are all very much into home life. I just was talking on the phone to my son the other day and I told him that I thought a great measure of success is when you realize there’s nowhere else you’d rather be than home. I feel that way. I love nothing more than hanging out with my husband, Bruce, cooking a terrific meal (I love to cook) and maybe just staying in and watching a movie. When we do go out, it’s usually to explore Seattle’s restaurant scene, to see a play or a movie, or to enjoy the abundant nature that surrounds us here in the Pacific Northwest. I also spend time at the gym and running outdoors when the weather is nice.
What inspires and challenges you most in writing?
Creating characters that I care deeply about. If I care deeply about them, chances are my readers will as well. Getting to the emotional truth of people in fiction is paramount in my goals as a writer.
You’ve probably answered this question a hundred times, but please indulge as our readers (and fellow writers) would like to know: Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines?
As I said above, for me writing a good story is all about finding my characters, making them real, and understanding their truth. What that means, to answer your question, is that I am more a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer. I like to take a journey when I write a book and I like to be surprised at what my characters say or do. Their truth informs me and the story, which means things can go off on a completely different tangent from what I intended. Of course, I have a general idea of where I’m going and what I want to say, but I am totally a pantser.
Early in your publishing career, you quickly earned a name (and some awards along the way!) for gay horror, suspense and thriller titles, such as “IM”, “The Blue Moon Café”, “A Demon Inside” and “Dead End Street” (and many others in mainstream fiction) – to name a few. More recently you’ve moved in the direction of gay romance. Can you share with us what influenced you to shift genres?
This is the question I really get asked a lot these days! I don’t think I’ll ever completely abandon suspense/horror, but I do think that if and when I write it again, it will be couched within a love story. I think I made the switch to romance because I found writing about the most important human connection we can have incredibly satisfying and universal. Personally, I think because I have found the love of my life (eleven years together, legally married for going on one year) and am no longer seeking that out, it’s easier to write about love than it was when I was so preoccupied with finding it for myself, if that makes any sense. I am enjoying the light over the dark right now.
Can we expect the return of gay mystery/thriller/suspense fiction novels from you?
As I said above, I don’t think I’ve left it behind, it’s just that it will be part of a love story. In fact, if you look at almost any of my work, even the stuff that’s considered thriller/horror/suspense, the love story is still at the heart of it. But yeah, I have a short coming out November 17 from Amber Allure [www.amberquill.com] called “The Ghost in Number 9” that has the ghost of a closeted married man coming back to haunt a trysting couple in a no-tell motel. And planning is in the works with my friend and very talented writer, BG Thomas, to write a book together. Who knows? There may be a supernatural or thriller element to that.
Two of my all-time favorite gay thriller/suspense novels you wrote are “Tricks” and the sequel, “Rent”. Will fans of Wren and Rufus get another story featuring them? What inspired you to write their love story amid the backdrop of go-go boys, sex and murder?
I haven’t really considered a sequel, but I never say never. If anything, I would be more likely to write something with new characters but set in the “Tricks” universe—the Chicago stripper bar that is central to both books. I think a gay bar has so many stories to tell because of all the different personalities that walk through the doors. Each person has a unique tale. Hmmm…this is getting the ideas flowing….
Have had you ever had to deal with homophobia after your gay novels are released, and if so, what form has it taken?
I have, sadly, had to deal with homophobia, but rarely in the context of my books. Most readers are well aware that my books are liberally peopled with gay characters and that’s what they want to read, so I really haven’t had that experience. What does make me sad is that I know there are people out there—straight friends and family—who are thrilled with my work and interested in it, but don’t read it because it’s “gay.” Little do they realize that gay themes are also human themes and they just might get an enjoyable read out of it if they’d concentrate more on the human part instead of being put off by the gay part. After all, if I was put off by “straight” fiction, I would have so much less to read!
On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.
Thank you for having me, Jon. Wait. That sounds dirty, doesn’t it? (Jon: not in the least!)
Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?
Oh yes! Legally Wed comes out in January and I’m so excited. It’s kind of my nod to same-sex marriage being legalized in my home state of Washington last year (my husband and I were married on the very first day it became legal and look forward to our first wedding anniversary on December 9). Anyway, here is the blurb for Legally Wed (and the gorgeous cover is by cover artist extraordinaire, Anne Cain).
Love comes along when you least expect it. That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants—a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life—and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.
Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?
And while I’m at it, I might as well give you the blurb and cover for “The Ghost in Number 9” as well.
For Tony and Carter, room number 9 in the Galaxy Gold motel on Seattle’s seedy Aurora Avenue is a refuge. There, the two young lovers have found a place to hide away from a world that would condemn them for their love. Within the darkened, summer-hot confines of room number 9, Carter and Tony can explore their love and lust for one another, free of the burdens of the outside world.
But room number 9 holds a terrible and tragic secret–one that dates back to the Galaxy Gold’s opening back in 1962, when Seattle was hosting its World’s Fair. There’s a ghost in room number 9 and he has a message for Tony and Carter, a message about the consequences of shame and hiding love behind a closed motel room door.
Will Tony and Carter listen to the ghost’s message and have the courage to bring their love out into the open? Or will this long-ago story, one eerily similar to Tony and Carter’s, be ignored?
The answer awaits in room number 9.
Rick R. Reed Biography and Contact
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Visit Rick’s website at www.rickrreed.com or follow his blog at http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/. You can also like Rick on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rickrreed. Rick always enjoys hearing from readers and answers all e-mails personally. Send him a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find any of Rick’s books mentioned above, visit www.amazon.com and search for Rick R. Reed or visit his author page at http://www.amazon.com/Rick-R.-Reed/e/B000AP5H2G/