Lipstick & Danger

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Finding Your Way in The Darkest Night

When I met Rick Reed he was a presenter at Killer Nashville, a conference for mystery and thriller writers. After listening to him share about his work as a detective and dealing with some pretty shady characters, I knew his stories would keep audiences spellbound. Considering how many people attended his workshop I knew I wouldn’t be the only one who gobbled up his books.His latest book, The Darkest Night, is my favorite.

After becoming a best-selling author, Rick has remained unassuming and hardworking on his craft. I’m so honored to have him today to visit with us. Let’s ask him a few questions to see what makes him tick.

Typewriter, laptop, or pen & paper?

I learned to type on a manual typewriter but have preferred a computer word processing program since I bought my first Commodore computer with Corel word processing which later became MS Word. I have also used pen and paper to write, but found this to be limiting and time consuming to later type what I had written. I tried Dragon Speak dictation writing, but the computer never understood what I was saying. Now I use a laptop and a notebook. In the future I expect to see self-driving vehicles, self-flying planes, robot-killing wars, and self-writing books.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I favored Donut Bank Coffee Shop when I was a cop. What can I say? When I moved to California there was Peets Coffee or Starbucks. I chose Peets for the clientele, and the coffee was better. The atmosphere in coffee shops is perfect and full of people with laptops. In fact, if you come into a Peets or Starbucks without a laptop people nudge each other and whisper. Some of my best ideas and dialogue came from coffee shops. People-watching is a developed skill, not nosy behavior.

How do you choose your characters names?

I don’t choose them unless I have promised to use a readers name in a book. Character names choose themselves. It’s their story after all. If I need a name that belongs to a particular region I sometimes use the Internet to find male or female names that give the reader the flavor of the character. Sometimes I purposely don’t let the character pick their name. I use a list of names of people I wanted to get even with in the past. That’s where the saying “You’re on my list” comes from.

What word or expression do you most overuse?

I’m married so the expression “I’m sorry” comes to mind. Honestly, there are so many of these I can’t put them all down here. If I have to choose I’ll say the expression “looked around” and “and then” would be top of the list. My editor is trying to wean me off using these but it’s a long process. I tried to go cold turkey but I kept “looking around, and then” writing these. It’s an addiction that is hard to quit. I also tend to interject humor into what should be a serious incident. My defense is that I was a detective half of my life. The things I dealt with were so horrific that if you didn’t laugh you would cry. Crying was not allowed.

What’s your all-time favourite adjective?

I don’t play favorites. I like beautiful words, awesome friends, tantalizing plots, slimy low-lifes and so forth.

If your book(s) were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?

Mike Vogel (Under the Dome) as Jack Murphy. Rachelle Lefevre (Under the Dome) as Katie Murphy. Josh Holloway (Lost) as Liddell Blanchard. Evangeline Lilly (Lost) as Marcie Blanchard.

When did you realize you wanted to become an author?

I realized I wanted to be an author when I received my first royalty payment. Just kidding. My writing started out as a fun way to bring serious work issues out in the open. I wrote an underground newspaper for the police department for several years before getting caught and shut down. The paper was called “The Monkey Boy Gazette” and was a celebrity roast type of thing. If any politician, policeman, or other person of interest did something that everyone was angry about, but couldn’t speak their mind without retaliation of some sort, I wrote about the issue anonymously. I made fun of the incident in a way that allowed everyone to talk freely, if only to comment on my article. I loved the attention the paper got, and I loved being anonymous. I was a reporter/writer with an audience.

Kensington gave me an opportunity to co-author a true crime book, and I was off and running with a fiction crime series to follow.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

There is no such critter. When I don’t know what to write next I let myself become one of the characters. I talk to my dogs. I act out the last scene. I’ve created a alternate personality that I slip into and pretend they are writing the scene (I can blame the poor writing on them.)  I’ve learned to keep writing and fix it later.

When I was a detective I had to interview some pretty tough customers. The worst of the worst were child killers. In order to talk to these people you were forced to become someone else. Someone that didn’t want to choke or the **** out of the ‘alleged’ suspect. When the case was closed I could get back into my own skin, take a shower, sprinkle a little holy water around the house and have a Scotch. I think those intense out-of-body interviews helped prepare me for writing.

Do you listen to music while you write? What’s on your playlist?

Don’t laugh. I like AC/DC, Pyromania Hysteria, Golden Earring type of bands when I’m writing an action/murder scene. Michael Buble when writing romantic scenes. Sting, Marvin Gaye, Sade, Basia, and various artists when I need to be mindless.

Whom would you want to write your life story?

My wife should write my story. Apparently I know very little about myself. When I want to know what I like to eat, what I like to wear, and if I prefer a glass of wine over a triple Scotch. She knows I want to see a romantic comedy instead of an action movie. She knows when I am sleeping. She knows if I’m awake. She knows if I’m having an opinion, so I’ll be good for Heaven’s sake. Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife. She is the light in my darkness. She told me so. haha

What do all writers have in common?

We love to give the reader a break from their real lives. Let them live through our story for a little while. We love to make readers laugh, be afraid, cry. We love to tell lies and make people believe the lies. We love to read. We love to write.

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