Rick R. Reed

Rick R. Reed
Instant Message or Instant Murder

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
January 14, 2008

Q.    How did you come about the idea to write IM?

A.   IM stands for instant message (and then it became kind of clever to wonder if it also stood for instant murder). The book is about a serial killer in internet chat rooms seducing his victims through instant messages. The inspiration for the book came because I have done some of the online mating dance myself and done some stupid things, which led me to think about how easy I could be making it for someone with deranged or violent tendencies to come into my home. And do harm to me and then leave…without leaving much of a trace behind. It would be hard to connect him to me.

Q.    How did you come about the title?

A.   Unlike e-mails, which are able to be traced more easily, instant messages offer almost perfect anonymity, especially if the user has set up a bogus account. Plus it’s become a new 21st century word, IM, that you see in a lot of places. It’s short and to the point and, as I said above, has the added advantage of also standing for “instant murder.”

Q.    How did you come about Ed’s character?

A.   The killer is such a psycho in this book, I wanted Ed to be the flip side of the coin, a nice gay man with the kind of troubles readers could identify with (he’s just coming out of a break-up and he’s not really accepted in his work on the Chicago police force).

Q.    Why did Ed and Dan end their relationship?

A.   I think readers can speculate on that, since I never come right out and say. It wasn’t all that important to the plot, but if I would speculate I would say that Dan wasn’t good enough for Ed, even though it was Dan who ended the relationship. Ed is like the friend you might know who is so nice, but never seems to meet Mr. Right.

Q.    How did you come about Timothy’s character?

A.   Timothy was fun to write just because he is so evil and brutal. It’s a little weird and thrilling at the same time to let yourself get that in touch with your dark side. Creating a monster like Timothy, though, I think had to be tempered with some humanity, which is why I give Timothy a back story of abuse and deeply buried family secrets. That way, if readers don’t exactly sympathize with him, they can at least understand why he became the murderer he is.

Q.    Did the police department give Ed back his job?

A.   I like these questions because it means that, in your mind, the story and characters became so real you wonder about their lives outside the confines of the book’s pages. My thinking right now is that, if I write a sequel to IM, Ed will not be a police detective again, but may work in some capacity for the city as a gay/lesbian community liaison or something like that, which might still bring him into contact with crime.

Q.    How many books have you written?

A.   My published books include, Obsessed, Penance, A Face Without a Heart, Twisted: Tales of Obsession and Terror, IM, In the Blood, and now Deadly Vision. I have three more coming out in 2008: High Risk, Orientation, and Dead End Street. That makes…what? Ten. With more on the way, God willing.

Q.    Are you currently working on another novel?

A.   I am in the planning stages for another book (I usually am; I have more ideas than time to write about them). I think the next one I write will have similar crime/horror aspects to IM, but will be very different.

Q.    What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

A.   I’m a morning person, so I do my best work at that time. I am not someone who can write with music on. I like it quiet, with few distractions, so I can go sort of go “under” and actually live for a while in the worlds of my characters.

Q.    What message would you like readers to receive from reading IM?

A.   The internet can be a wonderful place for meeting people, but it can also be fraught with the possibility of danger. Just like in the real world, the cyber world has all kinds of traps and pitfalls, some of which can be very deadly. As the watch commander advised cops at the beginning of the old series, Hill Street Blues, I guess I’d just like everyone to “be careful out there.”