I’m the Elizabeth Noble half of Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and Elizabeth Noble. Thank you for joining Genre Talk today on The Novel Approach Reviews and DSP Publications author Rick R. Reed as we discover some tasty tidbits about Rick’s newest release Mute Witness.
Mute Witness is, as Rick tells us, one of those hard to pin to one genre books. My favorite kind! Rick brings within this one book suspense, a bit of romance and, of course since it’s a Rick R. Reed book—horror.
Rick was kind enough to answer some questions.
First, a little about the book:
Blurb: The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.
Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.
And then their perfect world shatters.
Jason goes missing.
When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.
As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.
Elizabeth: And now…The Questions! Dun Dun Duunnnnn
Rick, would you tell us about your genre?
Rick: Mute Witness is kind of a hard book to classify, when it comes to genre. DSPP files it under mystery and suspense, and I suppose that’s true, but there’s also some romance and a more than generous dash of horror—of both the real life variety and, in one instance, the supernatural. If I could make up a genre for Mute Witness, it would be redemption. The book’s all about finding redemption and how love can lead us there.
Elizabeth: What is Mute Witness about?
Rick: The book has deep personal roots. Not so much today (thank God), but there was a time when bigoted, narrow-minded, and ignorant people confused gay people with pedophiles. There’s a lot of that ignorance on display in Mute Witness. The seeds of the book come from my own divorce, back in the early 1990s, when the simple fact that I was a gay man not only threatened my having custody of my then six-year-old son, but of even being able to see him. The other side fought valiantly to make it so he could never see his father again, based on the simple fact that I was gay and nothing more. I wanted to write a book that dealt with the heartbreak of this kind of prejudice and how harmful it can be (and, although better today, still is).
Elizabeth: Would you tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
Rick: In all of my LGBT fiction, I strive to present a realistic portrait of gay people in the world today. That’s why many of my books deal with topics that are relevant to the LGBT community—hate crimes, coming out, AIDS, same-sex marriage, and yes, even online dating and hooking up. Through writing compelling and, I hope, stories that touch the heart and are grounded in realism, I want my readers to see the LGBT world not through rose-colored and totally fictitious lenses, but as a world peopled by human beings that are just as hopeful and struggling as everyone else.
Elizabeth: Mute Witness is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Mute Witness and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
Rick: Mute Witness is the kind of book I could have never submitted to Dreamspinner Press in the past, because the love story, although there (the heart of the book is about Sean and Austin, who struggle to keep their relationship together amidst horrible stress and trauma) isn’t prominent enough for it to be considered a romance. DSP Publications is a great home for the book because it combines elements of suspense and mystery, but also makes a strong social commentary.
Elizabeth: Now for the fun stuff!
What do you do for fun? Do you have a pet who supervises your writing?
Rick: For fun, I run. Hey! That rhymes. But seriously, I live in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle), plopped down into some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country, so running for me is a joy. It’s a chance to clear my head and just be at one with my body and to enjoy the views of nature, water, and mountains that often surround me.
And yes, I have a Boston terrier muse/task master who comes to work with me every day in my home office. Usually you can find her snoring away next to my desk, but her presence is, nonetheless, always a comfort and an inspiration.
Elizabeth: My dog has that exact same bed! Your little pup is adorable.
How has your writing changed since you published your first book?
Rick: Interesting question. My first book, Obsessed, was published by Dell in 1991. It was a horror novel about a serial killer who believed he was vampire and it featured a cast of completely straight characters. Today, I write mostly LGBT-based romance, suspense, and horror and am glad to be with my people, where my heart is.
Elizabeth: I think it’s time for an excerpt.
Excerpt: Sean looked over at his younger boyfriend and thought how lucky he was to have found Austin, especially in a town the size of Summitville, where the population hovered just above ten thousand. Even better, Austin was his fantasy man, with a broad, beefy body that his mother and her friends would have called strapping, sandy blond hair, and the bluest eyes he had ever seen. When Sean first met him, he thought Austin’s eyes had to be fake, enhanced by those tinted contacts that never looked real. But he found quickly that the young man was simply blessed with arresting eyes to go along with his broad shoulders, dimpled chin, and infectious smile. He wore that smile right now, coming down from a fit of inappropriate laughter after hearing Elizabeth Taylor tell Richard Burton “I’d divorce you if I thought you were alive.”
A sick sense of humor was yet another thing the pair had in common.
It was what they both would have agreed was a perfect day. Well, Sean might have had one more item to add to the “perfection” list. Having his son, Jason, around for at least part of the time would have been all it would have taken to make the day ideal, but these days, Jason was for the weekends only.
In any case, this was close enough to nirvana. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back on Austin’s shoulder.
Sean was just thinking about slowly undressing Austin and then leading him into the bedroom for round two when the phone rang. Its chirp startled both of them out of the cocoon of warmth that had surrounded them, a cocoon built from good sex, supreme relaxation, and the afore-mentioned Jamaican weed.
Austin said, sleepily from under Sean’s arm on the couch, “Don’t get it. Please don’t get it. Just let the machine pick up. I don’t want to talk to anyone. And I don’t want you to, neither.” Sean eyed the little answering machine next to the cordless, wondering when they would enter the twenty-first century and use voice mail like everyone else. But, unlike voice mail, the machine did allow them to screen calls, and for two men who appreciated their privacy, this feature had voice mail beat all to hell.
Sean let the phone ring its customary four rings, although his tendency would have been to answer it. But if this would make Austin happy, then he was willing to do it. Especially since he had things in mind for Austin that did not involve the telephone. Things that would erase their fatigue and perhaps keep them up the better part of the night. Sean grinned.
On the fourth ring, Sean pressed the pause button on the remote control and sat up straighter to listen.
“Whatever it is, it can wait,” Austin whispered in Sean’s ear, flicking his earlobe with his tongue and giving his crotch a playful squeeze.
And then the moment shattered.
Shelley’s voice, almost unfamiliar under the veneer of tension that made it higher, quicker, came through. Shelley and Sean had been married once upon a time and their union had produced Jason, the best little boy in the world. As soon as Sean heard Shelley’s voice, he thought of his son, who shared his dark hair, green eyes, wiry frame, and his fascination with stories.
“Sean? Sean, I hope you’re there. This is important. Please pick up.” There was a slight pause. “It’s about Jason. He—”
Before she could say anything else, Sean sprinted for the phone in the entryway. “Shelley? Sorry, I was—”
“Jason is missing.”
Elizabeth: Rick, thank you for being our guest today. I do love a good thriller and this book sounds very enjoyable.
As always, thank you to our readers for your continued support. Please check out all of Rick R. Reed’s books.
Rick R. Reed Biography: 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 horror, 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). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle and is forever “at work on another novel.”
To stalk—um I mean find Rick online check out his social media sites:
I know you’re all interested in the coming soon announcement.
Next up on March 2, 2016 is Andrew Q. Gordon. Don’t miss it!
Until next time Happy Reading!