Crossing the Writing Genre Barrier!

My Guest Today is Rick Reed

Anyone that’s published has discovered how hard it is to try and cross the genre barrier.  ‘Once a police procedural writer, always a police procedural writer.’  Or true crime.  Or romance.  Or private investigator.  Or…well, you get the picture.

The hardest thing a writer has to overcome is a publisher’s notion that policemen, and police women, make good sources for true crime books, and some can even write a true crime book, but very few can cross the line from writing true crime to writing fiction.  I’ve been lucky enough to cross the barrier.

My first book, BLOOD TRAIL, is the true crime account of serial killer, Joseph Weldon Brown.  I had the good—or bad—fortune to have been the detective that caught him, and an editor from Kensington Books contacted me to co-author the book with their writer.   It was a hit!  

But it took Kensington Books two years to believe that I could write fiction.  I was asked to send them ‘something.’  Serial killer fiction preferably.  I sent them a synopsis and first few chapters of what later would become, THE CRUELEST CUT, and was signed to a two-book contract.  It was published in 2010. Publishing rights to THE CRUELEST CUT were purchased by German publisher Weltbild, and the book was translated and released in 2012.  Publishing rights were also purchased by Polish publisher Proszynski Media S.P. of Warsaw.  It will be translated and released in 2013.  

The second fiction book was part of a series, but written as a stand-alone.  That book is THE COLDEST FEAR, published in 2011, and is a blend of serial killer and family killer. 

 What gave me the idea for the book was an interview I did with real serial killer, Joseph Brown, while in Lebanon, Ohio lockup.  Joe needed a break, so I took him to the sheriff’s department garage and let him smoke and have a cup of coffee.  He took a drag off his cigarette, looked at me, and said, “It’s a good thing you caught me when you did. I wasn’t through yet.” 

He explained that he was on his way to kill his brother and his brother’s family for an imagined slight.  Then he was going to Alabama and kill his oldest sister.  And then he was going to kill himself. 

What he said made me curious and I began to research family killers.  Joe fit the profile.  Luckily for the brother, Joe was stopped by Ohio Highway Patrol in Lebanon, Ohio.  He was less than 10 miles from his brother’s house.  His sister address in Alabama was in his possessions. 

It is much easier to write fiction.  You don’t have to get ‘releases’ signed by fictional characters.  You can lie and it’s okay.  You can draw on your past experiences and feelings and the sight and smell of blood or a decaying body, and tell the story any way you choose.  You don’t have to go to court and testify about what you write.  In other words, “You get paid to lie.”
I hope you will stop by my blog site, 

Rick Reed Bio

Rick Reed was a member of the Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Department for 30 years.  He worked in the Criminal Investigations Unit from 1987 until 2003.  During his career he served as a crisis management/hostage negotiator, handwriting expert, and violent crime investigator.

In 2003 he was promoted to Detective Sergeant and assigned as the commander of Internal Affairs.  It was a natural enough transfer for a detective that had investigated a multitude of ‘political hot potato’ cases.  As the Chief of Police said at the time of his transfer, “Everyone already hates you.”

Three years of being the most hated man on the police department were enough, and he retired from law enforcement in 2006 to become an assistant professor in the Criminal Justice program at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana.  He retired again in 2011, and moved to the San Francisco area where he writes full-time.  
During his time in law enforcement he was lead investigator on numerous homicides, rape, and battery cases.  His acclaimed book, Blood Trail, is the true account of one of the homicides he investigated in 2000 that unearthed a serial killer who claimed the lives of fourteen victims.  In 2011, this killer strangled his cellmate and received another life sentence.  

He now writes serial killer-fiction for Kensington Books.  The first book, The Cruelest Cut, introduces detective Jack Murphy and his partner, Liddell Blanchard, as they chase a set of serial killers through the streets of Evansville, Indiana.  The most recent release, The Coldest Fear, is the second in the Jack Murphy series.  The Coldest Fear was released in September 2011.

To learn more, visit Rick at:

 Thanks for stopping by today, Rick!


Kathy Bennett said…
I met Rick at Left Coast Crime this year, and he has fascinating stories to tell.

Rick, I've got The Coldest Fear on my TBR pile. I'll have to add The Cruelest Cut...but I'll get it in English!

Rick Reed said…
Thanks for stopping by, Kathy. And thank you for your kind words. I look forward to seeing you at the next PSWA conference.
Vonnie said…
Intriguing. As a non-American, the police hierachy fascinates me just as much as the crime stories. Keep on doing what you're doing!
Rick Reed said…

Thanks for your comment. I'm traveling and researching other countries police hierarchy and you're right. It's fascinating?


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