Interview with Rick R. Reed

Jen: This week we welcome Rick R. Reed to Book Talk. Rick, will you please share a short bio with us?
Rick: Rick R. Reed has been described as “the Stephen King of gay horror” (Unzipped magazine, October 2006). His most recent novels include Dead End Street, a young adult horror novel; Orientation, the 2009 EPPIE Award winner about lost love, reincarnation, and sexual orientation; a sexy thriller called High Risk about a bored housewife who chooses a very handsome–and very psychotic–stranger to come on to; Deadly Vision, a paranormal page-turner about a psychic reluctantly caught up in the murders of two teenage girls in her small western Pennsylvania town; In the Blood, a tragic vampire love story, and IM, a thriller about a serial killer preying on gay men using online gay hookup sites. Bashed, a story about a hate crime and its aftermath, is slated for a spring 2009 publication by MLR Press.

Past writing credits include A Face Without A Heart, a modern-day, Chicago-set version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; Penance; and Obsessed. Both Penance and Obsessed were published in Dell’s lauded horror line, Abyss and, together sold more than 80,000 copies. He lives in Seattle, WA with his partner.

Jen: Tell us about Bashed and where it’s available.
Rick: Bashed combines three of my favorite genres: horror, thriller, and love story. It’s about a gay couple that get fag bashed…and one of the men does not survive. The back cover copy has already been developed and it’s good at telling the story in a nutshell:

Three haters. Two lovers. And a collision course with tragedy.

When Donald and Mark left the Brig that October night, they had no idea their lives and love were about to be shattered by fag bashers, intent on pain, and armed with ridicule, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.

The cowardly hate crime leaves one half of a couple alone and haunted—literally and figuratively—by the memories and denied promise of new love.

Bashed charts the course of a journey from grief to hope, from death to life, and from hate to redemption. Come along on a trip that encompasses suspense, horror, and—ultimately—romance.

Bashed should be out late spring/early summer. More details can be found at www.mlrpress.com.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Rick: Well, since I wrote my first story at about age six, it’s been a long time since I “discovered” writing. My first real big publishing contract came in 1991, for a novel called Obsessed. It was published by Dell (in their then-new line of horror called Abyss). That book was everywhere and I thought everything afterward would mirror that initial experience. I consider writing something constitutional with me; I can’t imagine not doing it.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Rick: Dark, suspenseful, hopeful

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Rick: I am one of those obnoxious morning people, so that’s the time of day I write. I usually set a goal for myself of 1,000 words and write first thing in the morning when I’m at my best. I write in my home office and like the familiar when I’m writing. You will never see me writing in a café, or listening to music while I write.

Jen: How many hours a day do you write?
Rick: I would say, on average, two to three. I used to feel guilty about that, until I realized that it was quality not quantity that mattered and I feel like that amount of time is the most I can write in a day and still maintain the level of quality I want.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Rick: The most challenging: continuity comes to mind. People probably don’t realize all the minutiae authors have to keep in mind when writing something as long as a novel: things like eye and hair color, ages, who said what, just the little details. I find it hard to keep all that stuff straight in my head and really have to be on the watch for it when I edit. The easiest: beginnings. It’s always fun to start the journey. Middles are the part I have to slog through sometimes.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Rick: Getting to know my characters. Once they become real people to me (I know, it sounds nuts), I find it fascinating where they take me, which isn’t always where I thought I was going. The things they say and do often surprise me as much as they might surprise a reader. When I’m really into writing, there’s almost a sense of going under…and the characters take over. Please do not suggest I see a mental health professional.

Jen: What did you do to celebrate the sale of your first book?
Rick: Oh God, that was a miserable time. I was going through a divorce and had lost my job. I honestly don’t know that I did anything special; the reward of finally getting an agent, and then a publisher, to say, “yes” to me was celebration enough.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
Rick: Flannery O’Connor, Ruth Rendell, Stephen King, and James Purdy are all big heroes of mine. They all taught me that characters come first and if you can write a character people can really care about, the story will follow. King and Rendell also really brought home the fine points of plotting and building suspense.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Rick: I think I answered this above. I do get ideas from dreams, sometimes. And, often, after I finish a book, I will be sad that the characters are no longer around. I was once teased about this by a friend who encouraged me to have tea with my imaginary friends.

Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Rick: Well, my novel Orientation, just won the EPPIE Award for best GLBT Novel of 2008 this past weekend in Las Vegas. That was quite a thrill and an honor.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Rick: I think my love for stories extends to my free time. I read constantly. I love movies and plays. And I do love to travel. I also work at keeping myself healthy and so I work out, run, bike, and walk at least five times a week.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Rick: Other than Bashed, I have a couple of new e-books coming out from Amber Quill Press. One is NEG UB2, which is a sequel to my romantic comedy, VGL Male Seeks Same and will continue the story begun in the first e-book. NEG UB2 comes out in May. Then in June, both of these e-books will be published together as a trade paperback. I also have a naughty m/m story coming out from Amber Quill later this year called “Pottery Peter.” I grew up in a pottery town and worked in industrial potteries in the summer to put myself through college, so I can lend some real veracity to this sexy story.

Currently, I am working on a new thriller called MUTE WITNESS and after that, have two more books planned: one a ghost story and the other a werewolf story. I have never done werewolves in any detail before and thought it was high time.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Rick: My website is at http://www.rickrreed.com. I can also be found on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/rickrreed, Twitter at http://twitter.com/RickRReed, on Facebook (search Rick R. Reed), my blog at http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/, and probably a few other places I’m forgetting.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Rick: Would you please buy one of more of my books? I promise not to disappoint you. But shameless self-promotion aside, I would like to know what really makes you, as a reader, keep turning the pages? What trait do you find that’s common in books you’ve read that you just can’t put down?

Jen: Thank you Rick for being our guest this week. Readers, Rick will be stopping by to answer any questions you have for him, so ask away. And around 5pm PST on Thursday, April 30, I’ll be picking a name from all the commenters to give away a free download of Rick’s romantic comedy e-book, VGL Male Seeks Same.