Hi, everyone, and thanks for joining us on Genre Talk here on The Novel Approach Reviews while we take a break from the awful things going on around us for a moment. Today, DSP Publications author Rick R. Reed has come to rescue us from real-world horrors with his 4th Edition release of A Face without a Heart, a Fantasy/Horror… wait. 😉 Okay, well, this kind of Horror we can get behind.
Rick’s also generously brought us a giveaway (!!!!), but you know what they say about horror and patience…. Actually, I just made that up, so let’s get right to it and see what we’re in for.
A Face without a Heart
A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”
A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.
Carole: So, Rick, most people know the story of Dorian Gray, but in A Face without a Heart you’ve delved even deeper and given it twists to make it your own. Can you tell us a little about why you felt compelled to explore a classic in this unique Fantasy/Horror setting?
Rick: A Face without a Heart is truly literary fiction, an updated version of Oscar Wilde’s classic, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde himself was gay and, if one reads the original through the lens of today’s LGBT frame of reference, I think you’ll agree that the book has strong homoerotic themes running throughout. However, due to the time of its publication, the original book’s homosexual themes had to remain firmly between the lines. This is something I wanted to play around with and bring more to the forefront. I’m proud of how I handled the update and am thrilled with the reception the book got upon its first publication in 2000 and in subsequent years. At last, DSP Publications gives the book a completed re-edited version with a gorgeous cover by Aaron Anderson that truly puts a mysterious and apt face on the story.
Carole: How did this idea evolve for you? What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of A Face without a Heart?
Rick: I have to admit I got the idea for A Face without a Heart my agent at the time, Lori Perkins, who suggested to me that no one had ever done anything with Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (that has since changed, there’s at least one other modern-day take on the story, Will Self’s Dorian, but that came out after my version). It sounded like a great idea and I went home to Chicago from New York and immediately began my story. I wanted it to be modern-day, I wanted it to be set in Chicago (in particular the club scene at the time). I wanted the sex, violence, and drug use to be much more graphic. And I wanted it to be a mirror held up to our own culture’s obsession with age and beauty. To make it more immediate, I wrote the book in first person from the different main character’s perspectives and then alternating their chapters. This part was really a lot of fun, because for me it was as much an acting exercise as it was a writing one.
Carole: Interesting idea of fun, there, Rick. 😉 But now that you’ve brought it up—what do you do for fun?
Rick: Aside from writing, there are a couple of things I do that help ground me in the present and bring great joy to me. The first of these is cooking (and eating!). Food is my way to nurture and also my way to be present in one of life’s greatest pleasures. Hand in hand with that is my second passion—running. Running allows me to burn off some of those pesky calories accumulated from my love of food. But more importantly, running is my Zen. It’s my time to be alone, to be free of thought, yet intensely present, and to release a whole lot of endorphins that make me feel great during and especially after my run. I have gorgeous scenery all around me here in Seattle, so that makes the runs (which happen four or five times a week, averaging five miles per each run) a joy.
Carole: And for those who might be new to you (because your fans certainly already know the answer to this one), do you have any pets, maybe a particular “familiar” who supervises your writing work ethic?
Rick: If you follow me at all on social media, you know about the pet that supervises my writing. Lily is my Boston terrier—she’s thirteen and a half years old now and has been a part of our family since she was eight weeks old. She and I share the same birthday and she’s always with me in my office every day as I write. Here she is, hard at “muse” work.
Carole: And having personally met Lily, I can vouch for the fact that she’s very serious about her work. 😉
So, Rick, you’ve been publishing for quite a while now. How has your writing changed since you published your first book?
Rick: Well, my first book was published way back in 1999 by Dell. It was part of a groundbreaking horror line they were just developing and it was called Obsessed. It was about a serial killer terrorizing Chicago—a serial killer who believed he was a vampire. It’s a twisted thrill ride and I’m still very proud of it and happy that it’s still in print.
My writing has changed a lot since then. I’m now much more focused on my people—the LGBT community—and love stories predominate over horror. I think that’s because I’m at a less fearful and more contented place in my life and want to write stories that warm the heart rather than stop them! Yet, I still have a place in my poor damaged heart for horror and always will. A Face without a Heart could certainly qualify as a horror novel!
Carole: What projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
Rick: I’ve always got something in the hopper! Coming out soon is my revamp of my werewolf story The Blue Moon Café. It’s been extensively revised (with a new ending!) and retitled Dinner at the Blue Moon Café. Besides a new ending, this version will also have recipes for some of the Sicilian food mentioned in the book. It should be out in March of this year.
A new novel, The Perils of Intimacy, will be out in May or June of this year. It’s an intense love story that explores drug addiction and the secrets we keep. Here’s the preliminary blurb for it:
Jimmy and Mark make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness (and clean-cut cuteness) radiates out of him like light. Mark, although a bit older, complements Jimmy with his humor and his openness to love.
But between them, a dark secret lurks, one that has the power to destroy.
See, when Mark believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.
Mark has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings, had long bleached dreadlocks, facial hair, and was painfully skinny. And he was a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a different person—a lying, conniving thief who robbed Mark blind during their one-night stand.
Mark doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone horribly wrong with this fresh-faced, smiling twenty-something… but Jimmy knows. As they begin a dance of love and attraction, will Jimmy be brave enough to reveal the truth? And if he does, will Mark be able to forgive him? Can he see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers will depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.
Right now, I’m working on a new book that will incorporate, I believe, something unheard of in gay romance. And that’s all I’m saying!
Carole: Oh my god, you horrible, awful tease! But I suppose that’s why we adore you. Thanks so much, Rick, for spending time with us today, and for bringing us so many goodies!
And thanks to you, Awesome Readers, for coming along for the ride. We still have that giveaway to get to, but first, please enjoy the following excerpt from Rick’s latest release, A Face without a Heart:
He was beautiful. Beauty is so seldom ascribed to men, too often incorrectly attributed to men with feminine features—wavy blond hair, fine cheekbones, teeth cut from porcelain. But I’ve always thought of beauty as a quality that went deeper than the corporeal… something dark, dense, inexplicable, capable of stirring longings primal, longings one would be powerless to resist.
He was beautiful. I sat on a Red Line “L” train, headed downtown, bags of heavy camera equipment heaped at my side, one arm resting protectively over them. I watched the young man, unable to train my thoughts on anything other than this man who had blotted out the reality of the day, magical and transforming. Beauty, especially so rare a beauty, can do that. The young man was an eclipse, his presence coming between myself and the reality of the day hurtling by outside train windows.
He had come in behind three foreign people, a bright counterpoint to their drab clothes, colorless, already wilting in the August humidity. They chattered to one another in a language unrecognizable, Polish maybe, and I was annoyed at their yammering, unable to block it out sufficiently enough to concentrate on the book I was reading, a biography of William Blake.
I almost didn’t notice him. It wasn’t like me to pay much attention to what went on around me, especially when I was preparing for a shoot. Usually I used the time on the train to set up the photographs I would take, the way I would manipulate light and shadow and how it fell on my models, to arrange the props, set up and test the lighting.
But something caused me to look up when the doors opened—perhaps I was struck by the dissonance created by the unknown language—and I saw him. Close-cropped brown hair, a bit of stubble framing full lips, a bruise fading to dull below his right eye. The bruise did not detract from the man’s beauty but served to enhance it, making of the rough features something more vulnerable. The bruise was the embodiment of a yearning for the touch of a finger, the whisper of a kiss. He wore an old, faded T-shirt with a Bulls logo, black denim cut off just above his knees, and a pair of work boots, the seam on the left beginning to separate. In spite of the workman’s garb, there was something intellectual about the man, an intensity in his aquamarine eyes that portended deeper thought.
At that moment, I made a decision. I don’t know what caprice seized me. I have always led an orderly life, completely without surprise. But when the train pulled to a stop and the young man stood, I acted on an impulse that was as sudden as it was uncontrollable.
About the Author
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). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. 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.”
And now for the GIVEAWAY! Rick is giving away an ecopy of Third Eye, the Mystery & Suspense/Paranormal that Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words called a “riveting, nail-biting, thought-provoking, frightening thriller.” Please click on the Rafflecopter link below to find out how to enter. A winner will be chosen in one week.
We’ll see you next time on Genre Talk when we welcome author T.J. Nichols to tell us about the upcoming Fantasy/Paranormal release Warlock in Training. Until then, that’s all for this week, and thanks for spending some time with us!