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Title: Dinner at Jack’s
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance, Romance
Release Date: 10/03/2016
Personal chef Beau St. Clair, recently divorced from his cheating husband, has returned to the small Ohio River town where he grew up to lick his wounds. Jack Rogers lives with his mother Maisie in that same small town, angry at and frightened of the world. Jack has a gap in his memory that hides something he dares not face, and he’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Maisie, seeking relief from her housebound and often surly son, hires Beau to cook for Jack, hoping the change might help bring Jack, once a handsome and vibrant attorney, back to his former self. But can a new face and comfort food compensate for the terror lurking in Jack’s past?
Slowly, the two men begin a dance of revelation and healing. Food and compassion build a bridge between Beau and Jack, a bridge that might lead to love.
But will Jack’s demons allow it? Jack’s history harbors secrets that could just as easily rip them apart as bring them together.
Recent Release Spotlight with Rick R Reed
We are here today to talk about Dinner at Jack’s. What can you tell us about it?
Plan on an emotional ride!
To get a sense of the story, the blurb lays out the central conflict pretty well. I hoped, as with my other “Dinner at…” books to marry the concepts of the food and romance and how the former, if done right and done well, can bring about the latter. Comfort food is especially important in bringing the love in this book into bloom.
Please tell us more about our main characters.
Beau is a personal chef fleeing Seattle (where he’d discovered his husband’s infidelity) to his home town and his family of origin. I love exploring how returning to one’s roots can be redemptive. Jack suffers from PTSD and is a shell of his former self. How these two come together and what makes Jack come back to life are what the novel is all about. It’s a compelling, sometimes funny, and often poignant story.
What about Dinner at Jack’s makes you the proudest?
I took on a difficult issue—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—in this one and I think I handled it with the sensitivity and realism this very difficult and challenging disorder demands. And I like to think that “love is the answer” shines through every page, loud and clear.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Read a lot. Write a lot. There’s no getting around those two things in developing your craft, your voice, and the stories your heart wants to tell.
What part of a new story comes to you first? Characters? Plot? A scene? A theme? Or does it vary from book to book?
Definitely the characters. Once I know them well, I become the conduit through which their stories can be told. I like to think that most of my work is character-driven, which I believe makes for the most emotionally-resounding reading.
What tool do you use to plan scenes? (such as index cards, white board, Ouija board, etc.)
I am totally a seat-of-the-pants writer (aka pantser). So, I start off with a good idea of who my characters are, an idea of the story arc, and go from there, letting my intuition (aka heart) speak to me as I write the story. The journey is always a surprising one, as my characters do and say the unexpected. But I believe, if I stay true to them, their motivations will be not only credible, but also, in a way universal, so that readers can join them in their journey and root for them to find love.
Do you read your reviews, and if so do they influence the way you write the next book at all?
Of course, I find it hard to resist reading reviews. I mean, I want to know what people think about what I wrote! However, it’s something a writer must approach very carefully. For one, I always remind myself that once a book is published, part of my contract with the universe is that the book is no longer my own—it’s a collaboration between me and each individual reader. That said, I have to respect their opinion and their right to voice it, even if I strenuously disagree or think they’re missing the point of what I was doing. For another, I also remind myself that a review, rave or pan, is simply one person’s opinion. And I know that not everyone will love what I do—and conversely some will really love it. I write for myself and for the latter. Who has time for the naysayers? Bad reviews might be hurtful, but I try very hard not to take them personally and move on.
I think there’s always a chance to learn something from a review, especially is consistent problems emerge, so I do try to look at them from a constructive criticism standpoint, even though I know that’s not their real purpose. It would be a waste not to try and learn something from what a reviewer says, be it positive or negative.
Do you take a break from a first draft to get distance from it, or dive right into editing, or edit heavily as you write?
No breaks. I generally write straight through, beginning to end, editing intensively as I go. My daily writing process, when working on a book, is to read the previous day’s work (sometimes more than that) to get a sense of where I’ll be headed, but also to revise and rewrite. This way, by the time I finish a novel, it’s in pretty good shape and pretty clean. I pride myself on not turning in messy books or books that I know need a lot of work. That way, during the editing process, I can work with my editors on polishing, ensuring consistency, and making the book the best it can be.
What book do you keep by your bed?
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s one of the best guides to life I’ve ever read. If you can truly keep these four agreements (easier said than done—but I try my best!), I believe your life will be much, much happier—and I try to do it. The agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Never make assumptions
- Always do your best
If the world were going to end tomorrow, how would you spend your last night on earth?
Ah, that’s easy. I’d gather together those nearest and dearest to me, make a great meal, put on some good music and simply enjoy their love and company. Because, in the end, family and friends are what matter most.
If you had to be a cat, dog, or a rat, which would you choose and why?
Oh my God, my husband and I have always said if we got to choose what to be reincarnated as we’d come back as a gay couple’s dog. We speak from experience. Our Boston terrier, Lily, has an enviable life as a much-loved little princess who wants for nothing. What could be better than that? And yes, I’m sure many straight couples treat their pets just as lovingly….
If you had to be a character in a Stephen King book – which one would you choose?
Even though she’s downtrodden, poor, and alone, I’d choose Dolores Claiborne. Her humor, her resiliency, and her strength make her, I think, one of literature’s strongest women and I think if I were her, her good qualities would stand me in good stead.
Rapid Fire Time
- Hawaii or Colorado? Hawaii.
- hot air balloon or blimp? Hot air balloon
- Underwear and socks: folded in the drawer or tossed? Folded and arranged by color
- Boxers or Briefs? Both and sometimes nothing at all
- cinnamon or maple? Maple
- Tropical island or snow covered mountain cabin? Both, depending on mood.
- West Wing or Friday Night Lights? Never watched either, so can’t say.
- Larry or Sterek? I don’t even know what that means!
- Peanuts or Cashews? Cashews, but my heart really belongs to pistachios
- Favorite Color? Orange
- Australia or England? England
- Favorite meal? My mom’s Sunday gravy (homemade spaghetti sauce) with meatballs and braised pork.
- Spring or Fall? Fall
- Alone or at a Party? Alone
- Windows or Mac? Mac
- Rock or Country? Jazz
- Pastel or neon (bright?)? Neon
- Call or text? text
- Jock or Thong? Jock
- Trees or Flowers? Trees
- first pet and name? A cocker spaniel named Pepper
- Waxed or Furry? Furry…all the way
- Coffee, black or doctored? Doctored, flavored creamer and sweetener. I have a terrible sweet tooth.
- Cook or eat out? Cook, but love eating out too.
- Twinks or bears? Bears
- Red Heads or Blondes? Both! Preferably as either side of a sandwich.
- Swimming or skiing (variation on the beach/mountains)? swimming
- Country or City? city
- Hugs or Kisses? Both
- Dogs or Cats? Both—hey, it’s apples and oranges and both have their unique charms
- Tax Audit or Enema? Enema (much quicker and much less painful)
- Landlubber or Sea Dog? Sea dog
- Favorite flower? Iris
What are you working on? What is next?
Lost and Found. Coming in December from Dreamspinner. Here’s the blurb:
On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.
On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.
Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park later that summer, there’s a problem: who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be—but that’s just what Flynn experienced.
A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it—and along the way, they just might fall in love.
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.”
October 3: Diverse Reader
October 4: The Novel Approach
October 5: MM Good Book Reviews
October 6: Bayou Book Junkie
October 7: Joyfully Jay
October 10: Prism Book Alliance
October 11: Love Bytes Reviews
October 12: Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews
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