Hello everybody! I am excited that my buddy Rick Reed is meeting me today at The Shepherd’s Bean. One of the first MM books I ever read, one that popped me between the eyes, was Chaser. I absolutely loved it. I liked the fact that it was about real men—real gay men—and not about perfect bodied twenty-somethings. I liked that they made mistakes. I liked that the “villain” was real. I loved the ending, which was much more literary than Harlequin Romance formula.
And then I met him, heart-pounding—so nervous I was couldn’t even talk. Because it was more than Chaser. I had been familiar with Rick before Male Male Romance. See Rick… Oh! Here he is! Hey Rick, how’s it going?
BG: Thanks for meeting me today.
Rick: Glad to be here, Ben and it’s so good to see you again. This is a nice place!
BG: Rick, sit down. Let me get you a cup of coffee. They’ve got a couple Columbian roasts, very bold, and one from Cajamarca Peru that is to live for, very crisp. What can I get you?
Rick: The bolder and the darker the better. And I’m talking about coffee here.
BG: Then I’ll get you the La Palma y EL Tucan. I think you’ll love it. Now sit! Sit! How’ve you been doing?
Rick: Busy! I just had a new book out, Big Love, which I think is one of my best so far. So, I’ve been busy promoting that. And I’m also gearing up for A Dangerous Game, which is a thriller/gay romance coming out in June, and then in August, my Dreamspun Desires book, Stranded with Desire, a collaboration with Vivien Dean, comes out. So lots of exciting stuff on the horizon.
And, I just turned in my latest “dinner” book, Dinner at Jack’s, and that will be out later this year sometime. And my work in progress, Lost and Found, is a gay romance built around a…beagle and the two men who love him. I’m about 3/4 of the way done with the manuscript.
BG: Wow! There must be something going around with gay writers. Brandon Witt, Tara Lain, and finally I caught the bug.
How’s your husband doing?
Rick: Bruce is good. He’s also very busy with his work, but we find lots of family time to be together, so that’s good.
BG: And Lily?
Rick: She’s slowing down in her old age—she’ll be 13 on July 1, which is also my birthday—but she’s still in great health and looks half her age. She’s also my muse and writing assistant and is in my office every day, right behind my desk making sure I hit that daily word count.
BG: Lily for those of you who don’t know, is only one of the cutest dogs on the planet. When I went to stay with Rick and Bruce, she was very nice to me and I even woke up a morning or two to find her lying at the foot of my bed!
Rick: She is really cute and we love her like family.
BG: Your son is gay. Was that a surprise? How did you find out?
Rick: When he was growing up, I had absolutely no idea my son hadn’t fallen far from the tree, if you get my drift. No idea at all! He came out to me in high school and I was stunned. I had to readjust my thinking about who he was, so it took some getting used to, even for a gay dad. But it makes us even closer, I think. We have a wonderful relationship.
BG: And like you he is married. And you’re pretty crazy about his husband.
Rick: When Nicholas told me he was gay, it was about 14 years ago and gay marriage wasn’t really something I could envision happening at the time, so one of my first thoughts was, “I’ll never dance at your wedding.” But I’m happy to say that not only did I dance at his wedding, I also officiated. It was one of the most special days of my life. We love our son-in-law Tarik and I’m so happy to see their happiness together. It’s really a solid and happy match. We are all blessed.
BG: I was just starting to tell people that I was a fan of yours before I discovered MM Romance. You were known as the gay Stephen King. Tell me a little bit about how you came to write horror.
Rick: I’ve always loved horror. I grew up watching Dark Shadows and cheesy horror movies and so it was just natural that I would want to write scary stories.
BG: Oh my gosh! I loved Dark Shadows, although Mom wouldn’t let me watch it when it was originally on and I caught it a couple years later in reruns….
Rick: My first two novels—published by Dell in the early 90s, were both horror, Obsessed and Penance—and I really thought my path was toward being a horror author. But then I discovered much later on I wanted to write about my (gay) people and I took to the gay romance genre even more obsessively. There’s something so satisfying about writing about the emotional connection of love and how the search for it can be such an important quest in our lives. I still dabble in horror and don’t think I’ll ever lose the taste for it, though.
BG: You’re publishing with Dreamspinner’s imprint DSP Publishing, which includes an amazing book called Third Eye. Tell us about it.
Rick: Thanks! Third Eye is about a young single dad who suddenly develops psychic abilities; there’s also a bit of an m/m romance, but the book is really all about the dark suspense.
BG: And I loved your novel A Demon Inside. I loved that book!
Rick: It’s my haunted house story and the only book I set in Wisconsin. It also combines two of my favorite genres: gay romance and horror. It all started with the idea of someone standing in your bedroom, in the dark, and waking to hear them whispering your name….
BG: And how did you make the shift for horror to romance—because it’s true, the “R” in Rick R. Reed does stand for “Romance.”
Rick: I think circumstances in my life dictated the shift. For years, I was sort of lost, trying to find the right person and that, in its own way, was a kind of horror. My focus was darker. When I met my husband Bruce fourteen years ago, that began to shift. My relationship with him caused me to want to tell stories that celebrated the power of love and the difference in can make in our lives.
BG: You’ve been really busy lately. Bam. Bam. Bam. One book after another. What’s your secret?
Rick: I don’t really think there’s any secret. It really boils down to just being dedicated and showing up for work every day. You face the blank page and work. If you do that every day, you just might end up with a book.
BG: Now you have a brand new novel, Big Love. I haven’t had a chance to even look at it with how busy I’ve been this month. So tell me all about it. Don’t leave anything out but the spoilers.
Rick: Big Love is a book I’m really proud of. It deals with the bullying LGBT people go through as teenagers and focuses also on a budding relationship between two high school teachers, one of whom is just coming out. It’s one of my most heartfelt books and certain passages can still bring a tear to my eye. The small fictional town and high school in the book are based on my own memories of the Ohio River town in which I grew up and the high school I attended (the only one in town!).
BG: Well, it certainly sounds like yet another winner for you, Rick. I can’t wait to read it.
Rick: Why wait?
BG: Well, this has been great fun. But then spending time with you always is.
Rick: Likewise, Ben. Until we meet again (in Kansas City, I guess!)
BG: And know that you are welcome anytime.
Rick: Thanks for having me. You’ve been a wonderful host. Can I get another cup of coffee? And maybe something sweet to go with it?
BG: One of your hugs is more than enough sweet to go with anything!
Title: Big Love
Author: Rick R. Reed
Genre: M/M, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.
But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.
As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.
EXCLUISVE EXCERPT: BIG LOVE
“Don’t Jump!” by Rick R. Reed
Big Love is about accepting yourself for who you are. And that lesson can be very, very hard-won, especially for those of us who are “different.” This scene illustrates how hopeless that acceptance can seem:
“He’s up there!” Betsy pointed to Truman on the roof ledge, her voice high with hysteria. “You have to do something, Dane!”
Dane peered up, squinting. For a moment he could see nothing. Although the day was bitter cold, with the temperature in the single digits and, with the wind chill factored in, most likely below zero, the sun was blinding and bright. The sky was a brilliant cerulean blue. The anxiousness and terror in Betsy’s voice ramped up his own terror, making him feel like an animal being plunged into nightmare.
Quickly, his eyes adjusted to the sun’s glare, and he could make out a silhouette on top of one of the two towers that fronted the school, one on either side, like a castle. A small figure with its legs dangling casually over the ledge flung Dane’s heart into his throat. Out of the corner of his mouth, he whispered desperately to Betsy, “Who is it?”
“It’s Truman Reid.”
“Oh God. Of course it is.” Dane flashed back to only a short time ago and what he had witnessed on the school’s central bulletin board. He must have seen. The kid was desperate. Dane recollected that it seemed like almost every week, maybe even every day, the boy was the punching bag for a bully, the butt of a joke, or a target for derision. Dane tried to step in when he could, but he couldn’t be everywhere at once. With staff cutbacks and growing class sizes, it had become harder and harder for Dane to concentrate on individual students, no matter how compassionate he wanted to be or how much they needed him.
And today, right now, Truman Reid needed someone.
He let out a shuddering breath and reached for Betsy’s hand, clutching it for a moment and squeezing for courage. “What do I say to him? What do I say?” Dane felt on the verge of tears. There was a quivering in his gut that made him feel dizzy, as though it were he and not the boy dangling over the edge of that rooftop. His next few words could, quite literally, mean the difference between life and death.
Betsy Wagner, teacher of social studies and human sexuality, could be relied upon for her well of knowledge in a desperate situation. She leaned in and whispered, “Hell if I know.”
Dane turned away from Truman for a moment to glare at her.
“But you’ll think of something. All the kids trust you,” she said, and Dane was sure the smile she gave him was meant to be reassuring, if not inspiring.
Like Truman, Dane once again found himself alone. Betsy stepped back and away from him, presumably to give him more space to conjure up just the right words, the magic speech that would coerce the kid into swinging his legs back slowly off the ledge and then to retrace his steps back inside the school, where he could get the help he needed.
Dane put a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. “Truman?” he yelled. “Truman? Can I just talk to you, man?”
A shadow fell across the ground to Dane’s left as someone stepped up next to him. He turned quickly and saw it was Seth Wolcott, the new teacher. Seth’s hazel eyes, behind his glasses, seemed darker with concern. He handed Dane a bullhorn. “We had this in the theater department. Thought you could use it.” Seth clamped a hand on Dane’s shoulder and squeezed. The simple touch gave Dane courage.
Dane lifted the bullhorn to his mouth, grateful for the amplification. He only hoped he could hear if and when Truman responded.
“Truman?” he repeated. “I just want to talk to you. Okay?” He glanced behind him, stunned to see a massive crowd had formed. It appeared the whole school stood outside now, behind him. It was both a comfort, a horror, and eerie, because there was no sound from any of them. Dane hadn’t even heard them assemble.
He whispered to Seth, “Has anyone called 911?” Dane longed for official help. He also feared it—the sound of a siren could startle poor Truman right off the roof.
Seth answered, “Betsy called a few minutes ago from her cell. Someone should be here soon.”
For now, though, silence prevailed. Dane lifted the bullhorn to his lips once more. “Listen, son, whatever’s got you up there is something bad. I’m not gonna kid around with you or insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise. Life has dealt you a raw hand, and that really sucks.”
Oh God. This is terrible. I can’t make this speech. I can’t. Where are all the wise words from the books I teach?
Dane drew in a quivering breath and called up, “But whatever it is, the one thing I know, and I think you know too, deep in your heart, is that nothing stays the same. Nothing, Truman. There’s no one on God’s green earth who can say what’s gonna happen tomorrow. Or even a few minutes from now. We just don’t know.” Dane looked up at the boy’s silhouette, unmoving, above. Was he getting through at all?
“Truman? Can you just throw me a bone and let me know that you hear me, son?”
Dane waited, figuring he’d give the boy some space in which to reply. The wait seemed to go on for hours, when Dane’s rational mind told him it was only seconds until he heard the boy’s high and thin voice filter down.
“I hear you.”
Dane shut his eyes for a moment, feeling immense gratitude for such a small gift. “I’m glad you can hear. But can you listen?”
“I’m not going anywhere… yet,” Truman called down.
Dane was relieved to see the tiny trace of humor in his response. Gallows humor, but it was better than nothing.
“Then listen to me. What you’re thinking of is an end. There’ll be no coming back. What you’re doing is taking hope out of the equation. What you’d be doing, if you jump or even accidentally slide off that roof, is removing any chance at all for things getting better.”
“They always say ‘It gets better,’ but they lie,” Truman screamed. “Nothing ever changes!”
“Truman, you’re too young to be so pessimistic. Everything changes. Constantly. Whether we want it to or not. Things go from bad to worse, from good to better, and everywhere in between. And most of the time, none of it makes sense.”
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.”
Want to stalk…keep up with Rick as well as his latest releases? Then just click on any of the links below!
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Email ID: email@example.com
And to check out the other great books mentioned today….
CHASER buy links
Dreamspinner (ebook): http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3168
Dreamspinner (paperback): http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3169
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Chaser-Rick-R-Reed-ebook/dp/B0091USG8I
Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Chaser-Rick-R-Reed/dp/1613725841
THIRD EYE buy links
DSP (ebook): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/third-eye-by-rick-r-reed-16-b
DSP (paperback): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/third-eye-by-rick-r-reed-17-b
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Third-Eye-Rick-R-Reed-ebook/dp/B00OWMY0CG
A DEMON INSIDE buy links
DSP (ebook): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/a-demon-inside-by-rick-r-reed-138-b
DSP (paperback): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/a-demon-inside-by-rick-r-reed-139-b
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Inside-Rick-R-Reed-ebook/dp/B0145S7EMO
Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Inside-Rick-R-Reed/dp/1634761065