Rick Reed writes horror. Rick writes gay horror. That thought intrigued me, so I asked Rick if I could get a bit of clarification on this sub-genre.
A few words about Rick, first. Rick has written a basketful of books, all of them available from Amazon. Simply search for Rick R. Reed and you’ll come up with several novels that deal with the seamier, more demented side of the psyche.
He recently moved from Chicago to Florida, so he's probably in a somewhat culture-shocked state right now. His latest book, IM, is just being released this month from Quest Books.
IM, stands for Instant Message or is that Instant Murder? A serial killer stalks men through gay instant message sites. This is a chilling tale of the dangers of high tech friendships.
In the Blood is scheduled for release in November and Deadly Vision: Book One of the Cassandra Chronicles is scheduled for release in January, 2008, both from IM book trailer on YouTube.
Marva: Welcome, Rick. Thanks so much for stopping in.
Rick: You’re welcome. I couldn’t resist, especially when you have cookies set out. And martinis.
Marva: First up, tell us a bit about your latest book, IM.
Rick: IM is a light-hearted romantic romp about the trouble one can get into when one goes searching for love online. Readers might be dismayed to find those troubles can include murder and dismemberment. But seriously, IM has been called a "deliciously nasty psychological thriller" by one reviewer and I think that’s a pretty good descriptor. It’s about a serial killer who may or may not be dead himself luring his victims through Internet hook-up sites. It has a lot of twists and turns and I think keeps readers guessing right up to the end.
Marva: A cautionary tale? It makes me think twice about instant messaging. The theme of people walking into dangerous situations unthinkingly is a horror icon. Was that part of your thinking? To warn about consequences of risky behavior? After all, every teenager in horror movies just has to explore that creepy house by the lake.
Rick: Another reviewer called it a ‘cautionary tale’ and I can understand why, since one doesn’t have to look too far to see a warning about the perils of inviting strangers you’ve met online into your home. I don’t really set out, though, to write tales that are ‘cautionary;’ I just set out to write good stories that keep readers turning the pages. If anything is ‘cautionary,’ it’s because horror and suspense come from dangerous situations. So, using that logic, any book about a dangerous situation might be labeled cautionary.
Marva: You wrote a blog on questions asked by a friend about the label 'gay horror writer'. Tell us about that.
Rick: First, he asked me if it bothered me being labeled a gay horror writer. He wondered if I resented the label and if I just would prefer to be called writer and let my writing be looked at simply for its own unique characteristics rather than under some arbitrary labels, especially ones that had the potential for being loaded, like "horror" and "gay." I told him that booksellers and publishers were very fond of labels and of fitting writers into niches. More than fond, it was almost a necessity. I said that I didn't really mind because labels help readers find me. If people out there are looking to read some good gay horror, I'm happy to be found on that particular shelf. I'm happy to be found anywhere, because I have been known to be invisible, but that's another blog, or a topic for discussion with a good psychotherapist.
Marva: Do you feel as if you're a spokesman for gay horror writers?
Rick: The guy who asked me about gay horror was of a mind that I was the only writer operating under such a mantle. I told him first that I was not the only gay horror writer. There are many other very talented writers out there who might also be labeled the same way: Doug Clegg, Christian Muncy, Michael Rowe, Clive Barker, to name just a few. But if I were given a tiara and a sash that read "Gay Horror Queen" I would wear it with an enormous amount of pride and would endeavor to fulfill all the duties (including being a spokesperson and letting the world know how gay horror can contribute to world peace). In the end, though, I’m just a writer who wants to tell goosebump-raising stories; I leave the spokesperson stuff for the ad people and politicos.
Marva: Some of your previous books don't have a 'gay' theme (whatever that is). IM, your latest book, is very upfront about that. How does it advocate 'gay' anymore than, say, King's Misery advocates overzealous book fans?
Rick: These questions coming right now seemed fitting. As you said, IM is probably one of the gayest of gay horror books I've written, even though one reviewer (bless him) said that it could be enjoyed by any fan of mysteries or crime fiction. I don't mind being a gay horror writer, but it's always nice to cross over. But IM really deals with the gay community, particularly the community that is exploding onto sites like Manhunt, Men4Men, AdamforAdam, Gay.com and so on. I do think IM will resonate with gay men especially because of how it ties anonymous sex to the potential for anonymous murder. I think any "community" has its own unique horrors...and with IM, I just explored one I knew.
Marva: A friend of mine mentioned he didn't read horror because it didn't scare him. What does IM offer somebody like my friend? How would you entice him to read it?
Rick: Your friend and I would get along, because I’ve said the same thing about both horror movies and books. I’ve become too jaded to scare easily. But I would tell him to not close the door completely because when something does succeed and does scare me, then it’s priceless. One movie that did that was an Asian horror film called AUDITION. It still disturbs me to think about it. I’d like to think that IM would have the kind of dread-filled moments in it that might frighten your friend. Even though we’ve had all this talk about it being gay, I think the fear in IM is pretty universal. Gay, straight, or whatever, I think we’ve all taken risks when it comes to making a human connection for love or sex, and therein lies the fear. All it would take is one mentally unbalanced person, thinking, "it could never happen to me" and allowing yourself to be alone with this person. I think what makes IM scary—and what makes a lot of my work scary—is that in my definition of horror, it could really happen. When a stranger you met online comes over, looks harmless, and then pulls out a hunting knife, I think that’s pretty damn terrifying.
Marva: I like to end with an invitation for a writer to say/plug anything they want. 500 words or less. Go.
Rick: I love nothing better than plugging myself. Thank you. I’d just like to encourage anyone out there reading this to stop by and visit my website at http://www.rickrreed.com/ or my MySpace page, www.myspace.com/rickrreed. A quick visit to either place will give you a pretty good snapshot of who I am and what I’m all about. I would also encourage all of you to pick up a copy of IM…it’s sure to make you deliciously unsettled.
Marva: You're entirely welcome. Grab another cookie on the way out.