Hullo, all! Since Lisa has yet to bar the doors of The Novel Approach, I’m here today with DSP Publications author Rick R. Reed to talk about suspense and serial killers and anonymous hookups. But all in a good way! (…Wait, is there a good way to talk about serial killers? 0_o Eh, Rick will figure it out.)
But first, let’s take a quick look at what Rick has in store for us with his new release, IM:
One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, and charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. When the first body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. At the scene, the young man who discovered the body tells him the story of how he found his friend. But did this witness play a bigger role in the murder than he’s letting on?
For Comparetto, this encounter is the beginning of a nightmare—because this witness did more than just show up at the scene of the crime; he set the scene.
Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth—before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity… his life. Because in this killer’s world, IM doesn’t stand for instant message… it stands for instant murder.
Carole: Thanks for being here with us, Rick. How about we kick things off with the basics: tell us about your genre.
Rick: Thriller, suspense, horror…I think there are many overlaps here (even with mystery) and they all fascinate me. I think IM falls as much into the psychological suspense category as it does the thriller category. Either way, the book (and the genre) are marked by escalating peril (suspense) and, usually a sense of dread. What should keep people turning the pages in any good thriller is an investment in the characters, so you need to keep reading to discover what happens next.
Carole: Why M/M?
Rick: I write M/M or gay fiction because I’m a gay man myself. I have an investment in telling the stories of my “people” in a way that I hope is entertaining, thought-provoking and, more often than not, touching.
Carole: I’m sure your fans would say your work is all those things, Rick. So tell us about this release in particular. Tell us about IM.
Rick: It’s been a long journey with IM, because this is its third edition. It was originally published in 2007 as a paperback by the Quest imprint of Regal Crest Enterprises. The book struck a chord because it plays on both the fear and excitement of anonymous online hookups, a form of meeting up that continues to grow. This new edition is, if I may say so, the most awesome edition. Starting with the arresting and gorgeous cover design by Reese Dante, the book has been thoroughly re-edited, so I think this is the best possible version of IM for readers.
Carole: IM is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in IM and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
Rick: I was thrilled that one reviewer recently compared the terror in IM to that found in The Silence of the Lambs, one of my favorite thriller/horror tales. I suppose IM fits better at DSP Publications because of the escalating suspense and sense of dread that defines the plot arc. We have one twisted serial killer at the heart of things—and a compelling mystery: is this killer even alive? Or was he murdered himself? The romantic aspect of the story is strong (it’s between the Chicago cop investigating the case and the love interest he finds along the way—a librarian who helps him with more than just research). Because the suspense of the story is so predominant, the romance naturally takes a back seat, so I think that’s why IM is such a splendid fit for the new imprint.
Carole: Okay, you’ve told us about the journey of IM’s publication. Now tell us about the evolution of the story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of IM?
Rick: It occurred to me, when I was younger and single and guilty myself of doing a little hooking up online how anonymous it all was. How you could, on many of these sites, interact via the site with instant messages and in no time at all, have a stranger at your door. While that stranger could be key to all sorts of earthly delights, he could also be your worst nightmare—and thus, a story was born. Add to that the fact that these online connections are difficult to track, and you have an almost perfect crime scenario—something very tempting for a psycho killer.
Carole: In today’s online/high tech world, a plot like this would seem to have such broad appeal, whether in mainstream or gay lit. circles. Why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?
Rick: I think that’s fairly obvious. While I’m sure online hooking up takes place all the time in the straight community and even the lesbian community, I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s nowhere more prevalent than in the gay male community. It’s that two-sided coin of risk/excitement versus danger/peril that, I think, makes the story work particularly well with gay men as antagonists and protagonists.
Carole: So, besides the obvious Awesome book, you’ve gotta read this! every author hopes a reader gets from their book, what’s the one thing you’d like to see readers take away from IM?
Rick: I think one thing people have told me, over and over, is that IM made them think twice about hooking up online. You just never know, with such anonymity, what you might be getting yourself into. You could end up with a future lover, future fuck buddy, future husband…or having no future at all. It’s the chance you take when you roll the dice online.
Carole: Excellent advice, Rick. Thanks for chatting with us today, and happy hookup—er, I mean best of luck on your release! :D
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). His novel, Raining Men, won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary General Fiction.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.”
Join us next time on Genre Talk when Andrew Q. Gordon will come bearing yet more gifts!