Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writing Process Interview #3 and Free eBook Contest: Untreed Reads Author Rick R. Reed

For my next victim, er, interview subject, Rick R. Reed has graciously agreed to let me grill him about his eBook short story, "Crime Scene""Crime Scene" is a chilling account involving a woman's musings about a crime scene photograph, and her vivid envisioning of events leading up to the scene in the photograph.  The story is beautiful and haunting at the same time, and is a must read for anyone who loves crime fiction.

Also, Rick has agreed to give a free copy of his eBook short story, "Crime Scene", to one random person who leaves a comment at the bottom of this post.  Start a discussion, continue a discussion, or just say "hello" (obviously, discussions are better).  On April 15, one lucky person will receive a free copy of "Crime Scene" to help ease the pain (or augment the pleasure, depending on your situation) of tax day.

Welcome to the "stage", Rick. R. Reed.

The Accidental Author:  As we progress through the second quarter of the year, I’m focusing this series of interviews on the writing process itself.  But, I would be completely remiss not to at least talk a little bit about your inspiration for your short story, “Crime Scene”.  Was there a specific event or memory that inspired you to write this story?

Rick R. Reed: Just like the woman in the story, I came across that book of crime scene photographs in a bookstore in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. Since I have a rather perverse idea of what constitutes entertainment (and a fascination with true crime), I flipped through the book, which included pictures taken at actual crime scenes.

One of these was on a beautiful little girl who had been strangled and her body left lying on a restroom floor. The picture was so sad and so tragic that it made me sorry I opened the book. That particular photo haunted me for a long time.

And, of course, it eventually morphed into the inspiration for a story about a woman who does just what I did (the description of the crime scene photo in my story is pretty close to what the actual picture looked like) and is haunted by the picture of the little dead girl. She begins to imagine what happened on that day, seeing the events that led up to the little girl’s murder, and in the end…well, maybe I shouldn’t say what happens in the end.

AA:  When you set out to write this short story, did you have the idea for the “frame story” or the “story within the story” first?

RRR: I think it came to me as all part of a whole. The frame story was my own visceral reaction to the picture of the strangled little girl…and then I began to imagine how something so horrendous and tragic could possibly come about.

AA:  How did you come up with the remainder of the story and eventually dovetail it all together?

RRR: I wanted to say something about how the power of our minds has the ability to take away some of the horror and hurt of the real world.

AA:  When you set out to write a story that transitions from time-periods (like Crime Scene), what is your greatest challenge?

RRR:  I wanted to get the period details right (1960s) in which the background story takes place and that took some research on the music of that time and what the beach at Coney Island would have been like. Other than that, once the characters sprung to life in my head, I just sort of reported what they did and said, which is what usually happens when I write.

AA:  When you sit down to write, besides a computer, what other things do you have to have in your direct vicinity?

RRR: I’m very much a writer that requires no distractions when I write. So I always answer with a blank stare when I’m asked if I listen to music when I write. How would that work? I wonder. I’d be too distracted. I also never position my desk facing window with a beautiful view, for the same reason. These days, everything I need is pretty much there on my computer, including the ability to quickly do research and get factual questions answered on the fly and immediately (gotta love Google!). Usually, my dog, a Boston Terrier named Lily, is on the couch next to my desk, snoring as I write. I think she channels ideas and editorial advice to me while I work.

AA:  Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you write when the mood strikes?

RRR: I write nearly every morning, with an aim to complete at least 1,000 words. I am a morning person, through and through, so often I do my best work often as early as five am.

AA:  Do you like to read the same kinds of things that you write, or is there a disparity there?

RRR: Um, probably what you find me reading most are books that revolve around crime (as I said above, I have a healthy—or unhealthy—fascination for the topic). So my reading for pleasure usually involves a mystery or a thriller. But I am pretty eclectic and dip into non-fiction (love biographies), humor (David Sedaris), and, of course, horror, although I prefer the kind that can either really happen or happens to people who are “real” if you know what I mean.

AA:  What are you working on right now?

RRR:   Right now, I’m working on a romantic novel set in the early 1990s about an AIDS buddy in Florida who falls for the lover of the man he’s been assigned to be a buddy to. There’s a lot of humor (the guy dying from AIDS is a very strong, witty, and funny character) and some tragedy. I have good feelings about the books. It’s strongly based on my own experiences in the early 1990s when I was a Tampa AIDS Network buddy to a very unusual person.

AA:  Finally, if you had one piece of advice for a fledgling writer who wants to make the leap from “writing for fun” to “writing for fun and profit”, what would that be?

RRR:  Without thinking about it, the cliché, “follow your heart” immediately popped into my head when I read your question, so I figure that means something. I’m a great truster of my instinct. But on the other side of following your heart and trusting your gut, it’s imperative that you learn your craft. I see way too many small press publications that demonstrate authors who haven’t taken the time to learn the CRAFT of storytelling, the structure, the pacing, and so on. But yeah, following your heart is the only way to go…don’t ever try to write what you think will be successful or will sell…that’s a surefire set-up for failure, in my opinion.

In their October 2006 issue, Unzipped magazine said: "You could call him the Stephen King of gay horror." And Dark Scribe magazine proclaimed: "Reed is an established brand - perhaps the most reliable contemporary author for thrillers that cross over between the gay fiction market and speculative fiction." In spite of this—or perhaps because of it—he has been lately turning more and more to writing romance and illuminating the emotional lives of gay men. To date, Reed has more than sixteen books in print, and his short fiction has appeared in more than 20 anthologies. His novel, ORIENTATION, won the EPPIE Award for best LGBT novel of 2008. He lives in Seattle, WA with his partner and a very spoiled Boston Terrier. Visit him on the web at or at his blog at 

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  1. Thanks for the chance to stop by your blog, Jesse. I had a great time. And good luck to the entrants of a free copy of CRIME SCENE.

  2. I love this interview, Rick you are awesome!

  3. Rick you are a terrific writer. I have enjoyed your writing for quite some time now...and I love when you do these interviews!! Keep writing!!

  4. Rick, feel free to stop by any time. I'm always on the lookout for great content (like this interview)! Thanks again for your participation!

  5. Great interview Rick. I always find it interesting to read about the writing process, especially for crime/suspense.

  6. Your WIP sounds so good. I can't wait. :) LOve you, Rick.


  7. Hi Rick :)
    It feels like Seattle weather here in Chicago.
    I can barely write a few sentences, let alone a book!
    If your ever in town, stop by AHIMA to say hi to your old coworkers.

  8. The winner of the free eBook "Crime Scene" is Jason. Congratulations!