Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spotlight: Novelist Rick R. Reed

Novelist Rick R. Reed has become one of the most prolific authors on the literary scene today. His books features gay characters in the most prominent roles and often his works are of the horror, and sometimes supernatural, genre. Unzipped magazine dubbed him "The Stephen King of gay horror."

Rick has spent the last few years amassing a huge following. His fan base is varied and it's also international. He's the recipient of an Eppie Award for his novel Orientation and he's been honored with many other awards as well, including Elisa Rolle's annual Rainbow Awards. The man is a dynamo when it comes to writing.

With his last couple of releases, Rick has given his fans something other than murder and mayhem with which to whet their appetites. His first gay romance novel, Tricks, has been a popular title on the bestseller lists and now he's out with a new tale, Dignity Takes A Holiday.

Rick is an old friend of mine. His warm, congenial nature wins people over immediately and the tenacity of the loyalty he has for his friends is inspiring. He regularly graced the pages of Web Digest Weekly with snippets from his books and also with insights into his world through more interviews than any other guest who appeared on the WDW Spotlight page. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk with Rick again now that his new book is out. Welcoming him to The Outer View is a pleasure.

CP:  Rick, long time since we chatted. How's life in Seattle?
RR: Misty, drizzly, and rainy, but at least we've seen very, very little snow and temperatures are mostly in the 40s and 50s. I do my best to get outside and avoid umbrellas at all costs--they're for amateurs.
CP: You've got a new book out, I see. Tell me about Dignity Takes A Holiday.
RR: Here's the cover blurb, which gives you a pretty good idea:
   Pete Thickwhistle doesn't live what one might call a charmed life. At age forty-seven, he's a flamboyant gay man who believes no one knows he's gay, still living at home with his harpy of a mother. Worse, he's still a virgin, longing to find just the right man to make his life complete. Pete's an upbeat kind of guy, yet he's never learned that the answer to his motto "What could possibly go wrong?" is always: "Everything."
   Pete's road to love and happiness is full of potholes, yet he never tires of searching, despite job losses, weight battles, clothing faux pas, and disastrous vacations, parties, and dating debacles. Pete is the ultimate underdog living a television situation comedy, one named Dignity Takes a Holiday.
CP: Where did you get the inspiration for this one?
RR: To paraphrase Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I never look any further for inspiration than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really had it to begin with. How's that for metaphysical and literary all at once?
CP: (Laughing) What's the general reaction to it been?
RR: Horror, shock, and disgust. No seriously, it's only been about a week and several readers have written me to tell me how funny they thought it was. One even said she peed a little when she read it, she was laughing so hard. I'll take that kind of reaction over a five-star review any day!
CP: And Tricks? That was another success for you.
RR: was my first full-length gay romance novel, so it's validating that it's had some wonderful reviews and strong sales. Here's the blurb for it:
   Tricks can mean many things: sex partners, deceptions, even magic. In Rick R. Reed searing love story, it means all three.
   Arliss is a gorgeous young dancer at Tricks, the hottest club in Chicago's Boystown. Sean is the classic nerd, out of place in Tricks, but nursing his wounds from a recent break-up. When the two spy each other, magic blooms.
   But this opposites-attract tale does not run smooth. What happens when Arliss is approached by one of the biggest porn producers in the business? Can he make his dreams of stardom come true without throwing away the only real love he's ever known? And will this question even matter if the mysterious producers realize their dark intentions?
CP: You are one of the most prolific writers on the scene today. How do you turn out so many popular titles so fast?
RR: I employ a staff of literary elves who have a penchant for crime and sex.
CP: Do you have another book in the works?
RR: I always have another book in the works. This spring I have two e-books coming out, Speed Demon and How I Met My Man, both from Amber Allure (the GLBT imprint of Amber Quill Press). In the summer, the one I just finished, Echoes, will also be published by Amber Allure. All three of those books combine gay horror and erotic romance in a hybrid I am forever working to perfect. I am just about to start on a new novel and have several ideas floating around. Even I don't know at this point which one I'll pick.
CP: When do you have time to, say, sleep? LOL.
RR: Between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. most every day.
CP: How's the family?
RR: My partner Bruce is doing well; his job as a national buyer for a major retailer keeps him very busy and traveling too much (he's in New York City all next week), but I plan on accompanying him to Milan when he goes for work in March; we'll also take some time out to spend a few days in Rome as well. Lily, our Boston Terrier, continues to lead a pampered lifestyle at the center of the universe. And my son and his husband in Montreal celebrated their first anniversary last summer and my son has a new job, which he loves.
CP: What have you been doing in your "Rick" time lately?
RR: What's that? You mean like spare time? What a concept! I do read constantly and just finished Stephen King's latest, Full Dark, No Stars. It was wonderful. I've also managed to see a number of really good movies over the past 6 weeks or so, including The King's Speech, 127 Hours, Rabbit Hole, and Black Swan.
CP: You're a renowned cook. Any new recipes you'd like to share?
RR: I don't know about renowned. But I do like to cook; it relaxes me. How about this? Take a bowl large enough to hold about half a pound of linguine and in the bottom of it put some olive oil, lemon juice, grated lemon zest and capers, salt and pepper to taste. Cook linguine, drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid and toss the pasta in the oil, capers, and lemon. Serve it atop a bed of arugula and top with a nice piece of grilled salmon.
CP: Sounds delicious! Rick, it's always a delight to visit you.
RR: And it's always a delight when you stop by; don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

(Click to Buy)

(Click to Buy)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review - Another Enchanted April by Eric Arvin

Novelist Eric Arvin has written yet another tale that is an instant must-read. The author of such popular books as SubSurdity, Superbilicious, Simple Men, and The Rest Is Illusion always takes his readers on a journey with his stories; a journey they simply don't want to get off. Another Enchanted April continues his magic streak.

This is the story of three guys who travel to a quaint bed and breakfast in the seaside town of Beechwood. Each one is looking for something different. While Doug is looking for sex and Jerry is looking for love, Tony isn't sure why he's there. In fact, he didn't want to come at all. But these three guys are in for more than they expected when they set out on their trip.

There's a garden with something supernatural going on. A roller skating drag queen enters the mix, as does a chef named Anna Magnani, and our trio of guys find themselves enjoying a comedy of errors of sorts as they wend their way toward the conclusion of this adventure. It's a ride to the finish that each of the protagonists will find illuminating in his own distinctive way.

Eric Arvin writes like someone who was born to write, and I think he was. His formulas are superbly wrought tales of human emotions and drama, into which he injects humor and insight, that give his tales a stamp that is uniquely Arvin. He knows just what his readers want and this he delivers with amazing clarity and a passion for what he's doing.

Another Enchanted April is a winner. Recommended reading.

5 Stars.

Book Review - Meets Girl by Will Entrekin

Boys meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl doesn't love boy back. But he wants her anyway. It sounds like a formulaic plot, yes?

Well, think again. Novelist Will Entrekin has taken this theme and spun a story around it that makes for a great read indeed.

The protagonist of the story is a writer who wants to be a success at his craft. Like so many in his field he faces the obstacles of massive competition and apathetic readers. So he distracts himself with his one sided romance and is equally frustrated as things continue not to unfold along the course he'd like on either front. The girl just isn't interested in him.

Then he meets a man who offers him the choice of his life. He can either have the girl... or become a successful writer. One or the other, but not both. Who is this mysterious would-be benefactor? If you're thinking the devil, well you're not by yourself. Even our hero thinks so. Whether he is or not, his offer stands. And what does the guy choose?

I'll leave that to the reader to discover. I will say that Will Entrekin has really shown himself to be a first rate novelist with Meets Girl. The story crackles with energy as it progresses toward a satisfying conclusion. It's one you just can't put down. In fact, don't be surprised if you find yourself reading long into the night to get to the end.

5 Stars.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: Caesar's Fall by Dorien Grey

Dorien Grey's third Elliot Smith story once again combines the elements of murder and romance to paint a picture that even the most casual reader will enjoy. Elliot is aided by paranormal assistant John, a ghost with a lot to offer. He also has the support of his lover Steve, who is a painter, and the two must face the moment in all relationships when their future comes into question.

The mystery centers around lottery winner Bruno Caesar's murder. Bruno dies a somewhat grisly death. His killer also helps himself to a stamp collection that Bruno held dear. Bruno dies after telling everyone who's been taking advantage of his newfound wealth that he's cutting them off. Those suspected of the crime range from friends to family members and it seems all of those involved had something to gain from his untimely death.

Elliot becomes involved in solving the murder when the presence of John begins sending him messages in the scent of Old Spice cologne. Elliot and Steve were neigbors of Bruno's. Until now Elliot hasn't told Steve about John's manifestations. His reluctance is tested when Steve begins to smell the Old Spice as well. Also, John is giving Elliot informatin on the crime through his dreams and Elliot finds himself more and more embroiled in the case as the book progresses.

With the climax forthcoming, Elliot and Steve are brought to the moment where they must decide the fate of their romance, while Elliot has a killer to unmask thanks to the help of John. It's a threesome of infinite proportions as Elliot unfolds Caesar's Fall. The resolution will also lead him to his future.

A fine thriller with more hooks than a bait and tackle shop, Dorien Grey again gives his readers exactly what they're reading for. Caesar's Fall is a delight.

5 Stars.

Spotlight: Sportscaster Mark Dondero

One of the most common requests I get from my local readers is the desire for more local stories. As is often the case, one doesn’t always have to look far to find what he’s seeking. Dalton has its own TV station, WDNN, and each evening WDNN telecasts its own news program. Recently I noticed Mark Dondero doing sports on WDNN and I was struck not only by how good he is at what he does but by the way he conducts himself. As my grandmother would have said, Mark is not “from around these parts.” With a decidedly northern accent, he injects his own brand of talent into the work he does. I was impressed to say the least.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote Mark at WDNN and asked him for an interview. I wanted to find out what prompted him to relocate to Dalton. His bio was very interesting and so I knew he’d give a great interview. I wasn’t disappointed.

CP: Mark, thanks for chatting with me.
MD: No problem, Carey. Thanks for asking me.
CP: Where did you move here from?
MD: Boston.
CP: Where did you go to school?
MD: In Rhode Island, at Bryant University.
CP: And what brought you south?”
MD: I wanted to get into television and I saw the ad for a sportscaster on a website that advertises for openings at TV stations. So I got in touch with Calvin Means (WDNN general manager) and we had a good phone interview. One thing led to another and here I am.
CP: What about Dalton attracted you to the area?
MD: Aside from the job, I was really struck by the passion that people here have for sports and for their school teams. You don’t find that where I’m from. Dalton has different strengths. I really love it here.
CP: How long have you been here now?
MD: Just over a year.
CP: What were you doing before you came here?
MD: I was working for Toshiba, in sales. That was a good situation but it just wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. So I gave myself a little time to find a good opportunity.
CP: What are your long term goals?
MD: I’d like to move up in the market and make a career of out something I’m passionate about doing.
CP: What are some of your favorite places in Dalton?
MD: I’m a big fan of Spring Lakes Golf Course and I really like Dalton Stamp and Coin. It’s the best card shop I’ve ever seen.
CP: You’re an Italian American, right?
MD: Yes, that’s right. My great grandparents come over from Italy.
CP: Who are your heroes?
MD: I would have to say my dad. I’ve always admired how he handles himself. He’s much more by the book than I am. I think more out of the box than my dad. I also am a huge fan of Ken Griffey, Jr.
CP: What are some of your hobbies?
MD: Snowboarding, going to the beach. I’m a music guy. I enjoy a wide range of music. I really just like to have fun.
CP: What movies do you consider your favorites?
MD: I’m a huge Toy Story fan. I also enjoyed The Shawshank Redemption and Jurassic Park. The Mission Impossible Series is also a favorite.
CP: Do you enjoy reading?
MD: Yes. I really like James Patterson.
CP: Having lived in Boston and now here in Georgia, what is your personal preference, long sleeves or barefoot weather?
MD: I am a summer guy, so I’d have to say the barefoot weather.
CP: What advice or wisdom do you like to pass along?
MD: I suppose it’s something I learned from my mom. Just work hard for your goals and do what you want to do.
CP: Mark, thanks again for talking with me.
MD: Thank you, Carey.

At 25, Mark Dondero is positioning himself for a successful career in television broadcasting. He is a warm, personable guy who seems very much at home in Dalton. He’s easy to talk to as well. After meeting him, I can see why the WDNN brass was keen to bring him onboard. Mark has a lot to offer and he loves what he does. It’s a very refreshing thing to find a young man who is so passionate about his job. Those of us who call Dalton home are fortunate to have such a talented transplant on our hometown news team.

Carey Parrish