Friday, March 12, 2010

Guest Blogger - Rick R. Reed

Shooting Your Child
by Rick R. Reed

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it. - Truman Capote

A statement like that makes a reasonable person gasp. The idea of "taking a child out in the back yard and shooting it" is such an arresting and shocking image that it takes one's breath away.

But if you're a writer--or anyone who creates--you might understand. First off, to say that Capote had a flair for the dramatic would be an understatement. In life as well as in his writing, he loved to push buttons, which is probably why he's remembered as much for who he was as much as for what he wrote. But Capote's point, about the sadness and loss a creative person feels at the end of a project is a lot like a death. A death that you bring about by your own hand.

I understand the quote because I feel a sense of loss and despair when I write the words, "the end." For me, who rarely writes a series, it is as if I have effectively killed off my characters. More prosaic people in my life think I'm crazy when I say that my characters come to life for me when I'm writing a book and that they often surprise me with what they do or say. Other writers--for the most part--understand.

For me, writing a book is all about taking a journey with the characters I have created. In the course of that trip, I nurture them. I love them (even the bad ones...and as many parents might attest, sometimes you love the bad ones the most). I don't always see it as me giving them life, but them giving something to me--surprises, emotions, a better understanding of not only them, but myself. They become dear to me, real to me.

When I finished my novel Deadly Vision, I asked my friend Mary, who was an early reader of the book, to give me her opinion on it. In the course of our conversation, I told Mary about that sense of loss I felt now that my characters' journeys were over and how much I missed them. She laughed and said that maybe I should "host a tea party" for my "little friends." She didn't quite get it. Or maybe she did. One of the best tests of friendships is sometimes the ability to be mean with each other and get away with it. But I digress.

The point is, when I get to the end of a book, it's not a cause for celebration, it's an occasion for mourning. Because, to use Capote's rather melodramatic analogy, I have taken my offspring out in the backyard and shot them. They are gone and for me, they won't be back. Once a work is published, I never reread it. And maybe that's why, because when I'm done, I'm done. And those people I came to know so well are gone forever, like dead loved ones. It's bittersweet to revisit their world.

Call me fickle, but after a suitable period of mourning, I find comfort in the arms of new friends, new characters and seldom look back on those I've shot. Heartless bastard.

In their October 2006 issue, Unzipped magazine said: "You could call Rick Reed the Stephen King of gay horror." And Dark Scribe magazine said: "Reed is an established brand - perhaps the most reliable contemporary author for thrillers that cross over between the gay fiction market and speculative fiction." To date, Reed has twelve published novels to his credit, and his short fiction has appeared in more than 20 anthologies. His novel, ORIENATION, won the EPPIE Award for best LGBT novel of 2008. He lives in Seattle, WA.

Rick's Homepage
Rick's Blog
Check out Rick's latest book, the heart-pounding child abduction thriller, MUTE WITNESS.


Danny said...

Hi Rick,

good to see you here! I have several of your books on my tbr pile.

Rebecca Ringler said...

Hi Rick - Very interesting blog. I like what you say about mourning at the end of your book once you finish it. It reminds me of myself when I have finished a good book & don't pick up another one right away because I am still enjoying the one I just read in my thoughts & like to dwell on it. I am not one of these quick readers, anyway. I like to take my time, savor it, make sure I know what is going on, & sometimes go back & reread stuff if I think I missed a little detail. I enjoy hearing you write about the sense of loss you feel at the end of the book. And how exciting it must be to fall in love w/ new characters all straight out of your imagination. Thank you for blogging here today! Rebecca

Lucy Monroe said...

Hey, Rick! Welcome to my blog. It's great to have you here and I love your post. I never mourn the end of a book because I'm always chomping to write the next one, which has been competing for brain time since somewhere after midpoint of the current WIP. LOL I think it helps to write series though too - you can revisit the characters if you want to. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorta with Lucy to the point that I don't feel sad about the end of a story IF I wrote one. I have my inspirations and they can be changed a bit here and there to make "new" characters for another story. But the base are still there and "they" don't change at all.

And I had written stories for my own pleasure, so I'm not in the caliber of the published authors like you and Lucy.

And Rebecca makes a great comparison to finishing a great story to the mourning period you mentioned.

Hope you are "over" that mourning period and able to look forward to future works AND characters!

Rick R Reed said...

Thanks for all the comments so far, and thanks SO much for reading. Looking forward to chatting with all of you again sometime in the future.