Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Rick R. Reed for stopping by today.
Title: Mute Witness
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Genre: Gay Fiction, Mystery
The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.
Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.
And then their perfect world shatters.
Jason goes missing.
When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.
As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.
1st Edition published by ManLove Romance Press, 2009.
1. We are here today to talk about Mute Witness. What can you tell us about it?
Mute Witness is kind of a hard book to classify, when it comes to genre. The publisher, DSP Publications, calls it mystery and suspense, and I suppose that’s true, but there’s also some romance and a more than generous dash of horror—of both the real life variety and, in one instance, the supernatural. If I could make up a genre for Mute Witness, it would be redemption. The book’s all about finding redemption and how love can lead us there.
The book has deep personal roots. Not so much today (thank God), but there was a time when bigoted, narrow-minded, and ignorant people confused gay people with pedophiles. There’s a lot of that ignorance on display in Mute Witness. The seeds of the book come from my own divorce, back in the early 1990s, when the simple fact that I was a gay man not only threatened my having custody of my then six-year-old son, but of even being able to see him. The other side fought valiantly to make it so he could never see his father again, based on the simple fact that I was gay and nothing more. I wanted to write a book that dealt with the heartbreak of this kind of prejudice and how harmful it can be (and, although better today, still is).
2. Tell us more about our main character(s)?
Sean, the father in the book, reminds me of myself as a young father. He’s very committed to his young son, and is racked by the guilt of his late acceptance of his homosexuality and feeling he needed to leave his wife and young son to be himself. He aches for the pain his lack of acceptance of himself caused others. I felt that, too. And right along with Sean, I rejoice in his relationship with his son and his new partner, Austin.
I also like the young mother and Sean’s ex-wife in the story, Shelley. She’s a true underdog, a strong single parent fighting valiantly to make a life for her little boy with very limited means. A mother’s love is a powerful thing and I put all of that love into Shelley. She was far from perfect, but I think she was real. And you care about her.
Jason, the little boy, was modeled of course after my own son. He’s smart, willful, vulnerable and sweet. Your heart will go out to him.
3. What about Mute Witness makes you the proudest?
That it deals with child abuse, prejudice, and hate in a forthright way and demonstrates that, in the end, loves goes a long, long way to overcoming these things. I like that, in spite of the horrible things that happen in the book, it ends on a redemptive note and I would say there is truly a happy ending.
4. How will the world end?
I have no idea. I’m assuming it will be long after I’m gone.
5. If the world were going to end tomorrow, how would you spend your last night on earth?
Boy, you’re kind of obsessed with this end-of-the-world thing. Do you know something I don’t? Anyway, I would spend it my husband and our dog at home—quietly. If I could have a wish come true, it would be that my son and his husband could join us from Montreal for that night. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that love and family are everything, so I wouldn’t want anything more amazing than being at home with the people I love.
6. What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?
Right now, I’m reading Travels with Casey, a book by a man who took his dog across the country in an RV and explores the US dog-obsessed culture. It’s truly fascinating! Next, I will most likely turn to fiction, but I’m not sure what. I have so many, literally, waiting in the wings! Maybe something by Lisa Unger or Karin Slaughter, both amazing thriller writers.
7. Rapid Fire Time
- Top or Bottom? None of your business!
- Tropical island or snow covered mountain cabin? Cabin.
- Strawberries or pickles? Strawberries.
- Go Fish or Old Maid? Old Maid.
- Salt or Pepper? Pepper.
- Sweet or Sour? Sour.
- Pixar or Dreamworks? Neither.
- Any Tattoos or piercings? Yes.
- Fire or Ice? Ice.
- Tennant or Smith? I don’t know what that means.
9. What are you working on? What is next?
I have a bunch of things coming up and the soonest are:
BIG LOVE (Coming from Dreamspinner Press in early April)
Here’s the blurb:
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 faces his attraction to men. Into his life walk two men who will change everything. He can’t deny his feelings for teacher Seth Wolcott, who is beginning his life anew. And bullied but out and proud freshman Truman Reid shows Dane what it means to love yourself, in spite of all the obstacles the world throws at you.
Coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak and falling in love…. The first day of school is the start of a truly life-altering year for the three men, who are about to start a new journey together.
And in August, my collaboration with Vivien Dean comes out, entitled STRANDED WITH DESIRE. Here’s the tentative blurb:
After he receives a mysterious message from his CFO, Maine Braxton heads back to Chicago from Seattle with his assistant Colby LaSalle during ominous weather. Their private plane crashes, leaving them stranded in the Cascade Mountains. They begin the trek back to civilization, with Maine determined to be a better man in light of his survival and Colby doing everything in his power to protect his boss without revealing the fact that he’s in love with him.
Along the way, they share a night in an abandoned shack, fend off grizzly bears, and get caught in a mudslide that nearly kills Maine. By the time they are rescued, Maine confesses he’s spent his entire life in the closet and that, in spite of having strong feelings for Colby, he can’t abandon the life or fiancée he has back in Chicago. Both men are treated at the hospital, where Maine is confronted with the reality of what he’s gone through and how much Colby has done for him. He decides to come out and break it off with his fiancée when they return, a decision he shares with Colby, but then must do it face to face with her when she shows up unexpectedly at their hotel.
Back in Chicago, Maine’s power-hungry younger brother Hart finds out about Maine and Colby and threatens to expose him if he doesn’t step down. Maine one-ups him by confronting him with the knowledge that Hart was the one who caused the plane crash. Maine comes clean with his company’s board, finally allowing him the freedom to be the man he ‘s always wanted to be, with the man he wants to share the rest of his life with.
IT WAS one of their rare lazy evenings. Summer, and the evening air was fresh and clean after an afternoon thunderstorm, with just a hint of a breeze. Normally, Sean and Austin were so busy that if they weren’t trying to change something about the little Cape Cod on the Ohio River they had bought a year before—adding a deck, putting in a new kitchen, stripping away years of white paint from the woodwork downstairs—they were too tired to do anything but crawl into bed and pass out, usually before eleven o’clock. Lovemaking, since they had bought the money- and-time-sucking house, had become relegated to weekend afternoons and the occasional early morning.
But today, Thursday, had been an easy one. Austin had called into work—the Benson Pottery, where he was a caster—and taken a mental health day. Things had just been too damn busy lately, and he needed the break. Waiting until Saturday was out of the question. Sunday seemed further away than the next millennium.
Sean, a reporter for the Evening View, the local thrice-weekly compilation of ads sandwiched in with a little editorial, had the day off. The couple spent the day in Pittsburgh, at the Andy Warhol museum, then had an early dinner at the Grand Concourse (the best paella on the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers), beat the brutal thunderstorm home, made love (acrobatically, in the kitchen, atop a butcher block), and now the two were curled up in front of the TV. Sean had rented Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and, after a bowl of Jamaican and a couple of vodka and tonics, the two were teary-eyed with laughter.
Sean looked over at his younger boyfriend and thought how lucky he was to have found Austin, especially in a town the size of Summitville, where the population hovered just above ten thousand. Even better, Austin was his fantasy man, with a broad, beefy body that his mother and her friends would have called strapping, sandy blond hair, and the bluest eyes he had ever seen. When Sean first met him, he thought Austin’s eyes had to be fake, enhanced by those tinted contacts that never looked real. But he found quickly that the young man was simply blessed with arresting eyes to go along with his broad shoulders, dimpled chin, and infectious smile. He wore that smile right now, coming down from a fit of inappropriate laughter after hearing Elizabeth Taylor tell Richard Burton something along the lines of “I’d divorce you if I thought you were alive.”
A sick sense of humor was yet another thing the pair had in common.
It was what they both would have agreed was a perfect day. Well, Sean might have had one more item to add to the “perfection” list. Having his son, Jason, around for at least part of the time would have been all it would have taken to make the day ideal, but these days, Jason was for the weekends only.
In any case, this was close enough to nirvana. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back on Austin’s shoulder.
Sean was just thinking about slowly undressing Austin and then leading him into the bedroom for round two when the phone rang. Its chirp startled both of them out of the cocoon of warmth that had surrounded them, a cocoon built from good sex, supreme relaxation, and the afore-mentioned Jamaican weed.
Austin said, sleepily from under Sean’s arm on the couch, “Don’t get it. Please don’t get it. Just let the machine pick up. I don’t want to talk to anyone. And I don’t want you to, either.” Sean eyed the little answering machine next to the cordless, wondering when they would enter the twenty-first century and use voice mail like everyone else. But, unlike voice mail, the machine did allow them to screen calls, and for two men who appreciated their privacy, this feature had voice mail beat all to hell.
Sean let the phone ring its customary four rings, although his tendency would have been to answer it. But if this would make Austin happy, then he was willing to do it. Especially since he had things in mind for Austin that did not involve the telephone. Things that would erase their fatigue and perhaps keep them up the better part of the night. Sean grinned.
On the fourth ring, Sean pressed the pause button on the remote control and sat up straighter to listen.
“Whatever it is, it can wait,” Austin whispered in Sean’s ear, flicking his earlobe with his tongue and giving his crotch a playful squeeze.
And then the moment shattered.
Shelley’s voice, almost unfamiliar under the veneer of tension that made it higher, quicker, came through. Shelley and Sean had been married once upon a time and their union had produced Jason, the best little boy in the world. As soon as Sean heard Shelley’s voice, he thought of his son, who shared his dark hair, green eyes, wiry frame, and his fascination with stories.
“Sean? Sean, I hope you’re there. This is important. Please pick up.” There was a slight pause. “It’s about Jason. He—”
Before she could say anything else, Sean sprinted for the phone in the entryway. “Shelley? Sorry, I was…”
“Jason is missing.”
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About the Author
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.”
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Email ID: email@example.com
February 9: Prism Book Alliance
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February 15: Bayou Book Junkie
February 16: The Land of Make Believe
February 17: The Novel Approach
February 18: Diverse Reader
February 19: Joyfully Jay
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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