Blog-Versary: Cindi’s Love of Horror, Rick R. Reed Interview & 2 Book Giveaway

Congrats to MMorgan for winning the giveaway!

I’m a big romance reader – any kind of romance. A sappy romantic in the real world, my love of sweet happily-ever-afters isn’t really a big surprise. But my #1 reading love? Horror. I know, right? About as different as night and day.

I remember being way too young and devouring Edgar Allen Poe’s work. There was something about the creepiness of his writing that sucked me in – that still sucks me in. As I got older I discovered the great Stephen King and others who write in the genre. If an author has the talent to have me on the edge of my seat, that’s somebody I’m going to keep going back to.

Horror is my go-to when I get depressed or sad or I’m just having a really bad day. I know most people veer toward the happier books during those times but not me. I want to be scared. I want to be eager to turn the page yet scared of what’s going to happen when I do. I want to be taken out of whatever moment I’m trying to escape from in my real life and get lost in a world of monsters or bad guys. I don’t want happy. I don’t want sweet or nostalgic or romantic. I want the fear and anticipation of what will happen in whatever crazy and violent world I’m reading about. I also want to know what makes the bad guy who he or she is. Was it because of their childhood? Did they see or experience something that completely changed them from being good to bad? Or were they born inherently evil? I want to know details. I’m the same way when it comes to the real world. I was always accused of being too curious as a child. That curiosity only grew as I got older. I’m always looking for the answer to WHY?

It’s common knowledge that I’m a big fan of Rick R. Reed. I love his romance novels, as the amount of reviews on this site can attest, but man, I love his horror. His horror is how I discovered his writing. It all started with How I Met My Man – that I coincidentally read October 5, 2012, a day before On Top Down Under officially went live – and I moved on to anything of his I could get my hands on. I can’t think of one of his books that I didn’t enjoy and I’ve read a lot. There’s one, however, that really got to me. Even now I can’t think about that book without being bothered by it. Don’t take that to mean the book isn’t good. It’s brilliant, actually. It got to me for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I’m a mother and the book is about teenagers. It’s not a YA book by any means, but the characters are all mostly teens.

That book is Penance.

Penance is not a new book. It was originally published in the early nineties, but it’s not dated. Parts of the story are so brutal I had to walk away from it for a few days to read something sweet before I could go back into it. I ended it feeling lost over how to review it. I eventually did but nothing I said in that review could do the story justice. It made me sad and it made me very angry. It made me angry because I know what occurs in that story occurs in the real world. It made me want to hug my children a little tighter when I got to THE END. It also cemented the admiration I already had for the author.

You can check out my review here.

When I was thinking about what to write in this post I immediately went back to the books that have stayed with me during the five years I’ve been reviewing for On Top Down Under. There have been a lot during that time but I can honestly say that none have left me with the feeling that Penance did.

Because I’ve reviewed more of his books on this site than any other author, I couldn’t not ask Rick to be part of our celebration. When I told Rick what I would be writing about in this post, horror specifically, he agreed to go back to his earlier publishing days in an interview. This, along with discussing my latest favorite of his, The Perils of Intimacy, and answering other questions. The Perils of Intimacy is romance but it’s much more than that. You can find my review here. It’s probably the most personal one I’ve ever written. You can check out all my reviews of Rick’s books on this site and even some of his older interviews and posts.


Cindi: First, thank you for being part of our celebration and for allowing me to go back in time a little.

Since this post is about my love of horror and romance, what’s your favorite horror movie and/or book?

Rick: I have lots of favorites, but I’m a big believer in what pops into our heads first. That’s probably the truest answer. And what popped into my head first was Rosemary’s Baby. I confess I read my aunt’s copy of Ira Levin’s novel when I was in third grade and for a kid that age, it really kind of made my hair stand on end. But I’ve read it a few more times over the years, and the horror and the paranoia stand well enough for me to call this book a classic.

I’d have to pair the movie part of your question with the above, too. Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the novel is chilling, brilliant, and probably one of the most true-to-the-book films I’ve ever seen. This is one I can watch over and over.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the runner up, which would be The Exorcist, both William Peter Blatty’s novel and William Friedkin’s amazing adaptation, which I made my mom drag me to when I was fourteen.

Cindi: Your favorite romance movie and/or book?

Rick: I hate to go all egotistical and self-promoting, but what popped into my head first with this question was my own Raining Men. Of my own work, it’s one of my favorites. I love it because it is a romance, but it’s also very much a personal journey and learning to love oneself. I’m really proud of this one because I took a very reprehensible, almost villainous horn dog and made him lovable!

CindiI’m glad you mentioned Raining Men. I almost didn’t read it because I was convinced there was no way of redeeming Bobby. In Chaser he was one of the biggest jerk characters I’d ever seen. Not only did you redeem him but he became one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. I didn’t think that was possible.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? If so, what was it about and how old were you?

Rick: I don’t remember the title for sure, but it was about a young girl being kidnapped by something of a beast of a man. He holds her captive in the woods for a period of time and then, mysteriously, leaves her alone and gives her the freedom to leave on her own. I wrote this in fifth grade and read it to my class over a period of days—ending on a cliffhanger each day. They loved it and were really transfixed and couldn’t wait to hear what would happen next. I think this was one of the formative experiences in my journey to being a full-time author.

Cindi: I have to ask about Penance. I actually read “Moving Toward the Light” (and own the hardcover of the anthology it’s published in, The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams) before Penance so I already knew the fate of one of the main characters, Jimmy Fels.

My heart broke for that child and my mom instincts kicked in big time. Jimmy was forced to endure things nobody should ever endure. He’s young but he’s one of the strongest characters I’ve ever read about. What can you tell the readers about Jimmy? The reason I ask that particular question is because I know there’s an emotional connection between authors and some of their characters. I found myself just wanting to hug him every time he was on-page. He’s one of those characters that will stay with me – that has stayed with me.

Rick: Jimmy Fels. Take off the Jim at the beginning of his name and what have you got? My Fels…an anagram for what? Myself. While I wasn’t a street kid prostitute in uptown Chicago, I was a very vulnerable boy, like Jimmy. I was also a wise-beyond-my-years boy, like Jimmy. That wisdom meant I was probably too grown up for my own good by the time I reached Jimmy’s age (14) because it meant that I traded that maturity for part of my childhood, territory I can never reclaim. There are things about this character that are too personal to go into, but he is one that resonates very strongly with me and my younger self. And yes, I too, want to give him a hug.

From the book:

Jimmy Fels occupied his street corner. At thirteen, he already knew the poses. There was a casual defiance in the way he leaned against the storefront doorway, pelvis thrust out just enough to attract the interest of the cars cruising by more slowly than the others. He wore a faded jean jacket, Metallica T-shirt, pegged jeans, and Reebok Pumps. His ripped T-shirt deliberately exposed a nipple and a flash of smooth white stomach. The top of the T-shirt was cut away to reveal a gold rope chain, glinting in the glow of the streetlight above him.

Green eyes, wizened beyond their years, stared out of a pale face. He brought a cigarette to his full lips, lips almost too feminine and full for a boy, too ripe for anything clean. His hair, freshly washed, was still damp, looking darker than blond.

He tried not to appear too interested in the cars passing by, some slowing down to take a look at him. He knew it was bad to look too hungry. Make them think you’re doing them a favor…always keep the upper hand. Street knowledge passed on. Remember Gacy. Remember Larry Eyler and what he did to Danny Bridges, the boy who ended up chopped into pieces and thrown into a Dumpster. Get it over with as quickly as possible and keep moving. But he looked anyway, his eyes moving slowly, catching glances out of the corners, and saw the shadows of men leaning forward, their faces ghostly through car windows.

Cindi: Now to your romance. I’ve read so many of your romance books that I had a difficult time coming up with a favorite. Instead of asking about The Perils of Intimacy – that I go into below – I’ll ask what’s next for you in romance?

Rick: Well, my next new full-length novel won’t be out until next summer…and I think you’re gonna love it. It’s a lovely romantic story that involves an alien abduction. It really focuses on the love—and not the science fiction, but that part was absolutely fascinating to write (and I hope readers will find it fascinating to read).

It’s called SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES and will be released by Dreamspinner Press in (tentative) July 2018. Here’s the blurb:

What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?

That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.

Where has Rory been all this time? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into the heavens? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.

Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.

Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars….

Cindi: Finally, not a question but thoughts.

The Perils of Intimacy. I lost two close family members to addiction. The last loss is still very new so I admit to almost not reading the book. I’m glad I did. I’ve always said that the reason I love your writing is because you write about real people with real issues. That’s never been more the case for me than in The Perils of Intimacy.

As much as we all want to believe it, love is not the cure-all for everything. Jimmy battled his addictions daily and they didn’t just disappear simply because he found love. He’s one of the most real characters I’ve ever read. Thank you for that. I’ve read way too many books that pretended addiction disappeared or it was brushed to the side and no longer important to the story as a whole. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you writing it as it is in the real world.

I couldn’t not mention that in this post.

Rick: Thanks, Cindi. PERILS tells a deeply personal story—masked by the romanticism of love-story fiction. My goal was to give hope to those suffering from the chains of addiction—and to demonstrate that the redemptive power of love, and of good, can really be a way out.


To celebrate our 5 years, we’re giving away two of Rick’s e-books. One is my favorite horror of his that I’ve read and reviewed on On Top Down Under, Penance. The other is one of my favorite romance books of Rick’s I’ve read during the past 5 years. Choosing my favorite romance was difficult. I decided to go with The Perils of Intimacy for reasons mentioned in my review and in his interview.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment at the bottom of this post. The giveaway will run from Tuesday, October 3rd until midnight (U.S. Central Time) on Sunday, October 8th. The winner will be contacted on Monday, October 9th. If you enter the giveaway the winner will have 48 hours to respond back before another name is chosen.

Note that if you enter this giveaway to read all warnings and disclaimers in regards to Penance. It is not a romance and the brutalities are on-page. I can’t stress that enough. The Perils of Intimacy will require tissues – lots and lots of tissues.

Thank you to Rick for being part of our 5th anniversary celebration. In all the years I’ve been reading his books he’s always been kind and has accepted my fangirling with grace. 🙂 I can’t recommend his books – all of them – enough.


Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at or Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their Boston terrier.

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Purple ReaderDeeCindiH.B.Kazza K Recent comment authors
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Rick R. Reed

Thanks for having me on…and allowing me to ramble on about a few of my favorite things! Happy anniversary!


I’m a big fan of both horror and romance. I’ve not read either book. Thanks for the chance.


Great post and interview. I always need happy and sweet when I’m down. I couldn’t imagine reading a horror book during those times. I like horror but not when I’m sad.

I just added a bunch of books to my TBR.

Thanks and happy anniversary!

Kazza K

What a great post you wrote, Cindi. I mean, I know how much you love horror and the well written and eerie book named Penance. But just your overall honesty and passion shines through. You treat horror as I do darker romance or fiction, it can be a balm at times, even when things are darker than usual. Edgar Alan Poe was something else, wasn’t he? When you think about the time he wrote and what he wrote, what a punch it still packs today, it’s amazing. Poe’s words transfix you and defy time. As for Rick R Reed, his… Read more »


Thank you for the post. I knew Rick wrote horror stories but I haven’t actually read any of them. I appreciate the interview and getting an idea of how his brain works and what were some of his inspirations.


Thanks for the post. Talk about a lot of great information in this interview. Horror and romance plus SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES reminds me of a Starman kind of story. So excited for that! <3

Purple Reader
Purple Reader

Thanks for the interview and giveaway. I’m already a fan of Rick’s romances, and I’m going to have check out this horror one.