Permuted Press: First things first: introduce yourselves! What books have you written, etc.?
Rick Reeves: Well, my name is Rick Reeves and am a native of the great state of Texas: Fort Worth, actually. I am a USAF vet and after moving around all of the country and one stint in the U.K., I ended up here in Seattle. As far as all the numerous books I’ve written, (and I speak only for myself, here), The AfterDark Chronicles: Survival is the only one so far. Melinda and I started writing it in 2010 and it has gone through a lot of different changes since we first started it. Funny, we still have all of the early stages, chapters, and so on, and every once and a while we look back at them and marvel how we ever got published in the first place. That being said, a lot of gold was in those first drafts that we were able to expand upon and create new directions for the story. We are very pleased with the final result as it is NOT your everyday Zombie novel. We have some short stories that have been published in an anthology in an Indie press here in Seattle.
Melinda Reeves: I’m Melinda. I have to admit that I kinda suck at the whole “tell me about yourself” thing. I’m basically a 6-year-old with 20-year-old tendencies stuck in a 45-year-old body. Currently, Afterdark Chronicles: Survival is the first book Rick and I have finished, but our second is just about done and we will get cracking on the third.
PP: You’re a husband-and-wife writing team. How do you plan and write books collaboratively?
RR: LOL. Is that ever a loaded question. I guess my “husband” response should be she’s right, always!!!! Was that correct, my dear Melinda? She’s nodding her head so I’m good to continue. Seriously, we have laptops that face each other on a dining room table and we will simply write. We talk out scenes and throw ideas out to each other. We will write out stuff and will swap off and go through and add our own voices to the work and it ends up being our voices in the finished piece.
MR: I think the way we work is crazy in a good way. We sort of play What If? One of us throws out “Hey what if…” and we start bouncing ideas off of each other until we say, “Let’s write it.” Usually whatever idea we are working on starts throwing off sparks and we each write a chapter or piece of the story, and then we trade them and blend our ideas and styles together.
PP: Did you both start your writing careers as a couple? Do you write separately as well?
RR: Well, we aren’t at the “career” point yet but we certainly hope that comes to pass. Funny, I had just read Iain McKinnon’s book, Domain of The Dead and loved it so much I decided I wanted to try my hand at a zombie novel. I started writing it and one day I texted Melinda (this was before we were married) and asked her if she wanted to write a zombie book with me. Without the slightest pause she replied she would love to. The rest is history. We have, indeed written separately and have a couple of short stories published in a couple of anthologies. Melinda’s writing is awesome in that she can paint a picture and really fleshes out her characters. I tend to gloss over some of the details just so I can get to the “fun” stuff, but she comes in and fill those parts out beautifully.
MR: Wow. Career. That’s a word that kind of changes your perspective a little...or a lot. I have written most of my life, but I didn’t write seriously until Rick texted me one day and asked me if I wanted to write a book. We do write separately now and have published short stories. I love Rick’s style. To me, he’s the master of wanting to show you something scary. He doesn’t screw around getting to the visceral horrifying heart of the matter, and he’s completely unapologetic about it. I like to take you down a path and by the time you realize it’s scary it’s too late.
PP: What got you both interested in zombie fiction? What are your favorite zombie movies or books?
RR: Like I said earlier, I had read Iain’s book and after that I would go to the book store and look for anything with the PP on the binder. I couldn’t get enough and was able to experience a lot of great authors in the genre like McKinney, Mayberry, Bourne and so on. As far as movies all of the Romero movies, 28 days later, Extinction.
MR: I have always dug zombie movies. I love Day of the Dead. There is a special place in my heart for Bub. Extinction, Shaun of the Dead, Fido…. I guess I like my zombies to either evolve, be funny, or be Romero. Rick got me interested in zombie fiction. He just kept loaning me book after book. I remember WHO I like to read better than titles. Joe McKinney, Brian Keene, Bowie Ibarra, Craig DeLouie, Tim Long, JL Bourne, Iain McKinnon. That’s just the zombie short list that comes to mind. There were a LOT of books...
PP: For how long have you been members of the Washington State Paranormal Investigations and Research group (WSPIR)? For readers who may not be familiar, can you elaborate on how paranormal investigations operate? How would you say paranormal research has impacted your writing?
RR: I’ve been a member since 2010, but I’ve always been interested in the paranormal. I actually lived in a house in Wisconsin that had a ton of activity…rapping on the walls, an apparition of an old man that my kids would see upstairs, footsteps going up a down the stairs when I’d be home alone. WSPIR is actually part of the TAPS family (yes, those guys on TV). First and foremost we are here to help people who are experiencing activity that they can’t explain and are afraid, in some cases, to stay in their own home. The investigations start with an assessment to see what is being experienced, if there is a natural cause, and so on. We then go in a set up equipment: cameras and mics in each room that has had something happen, and then we set up base with monitors, DVR’s so we can record everything that the walkthrough team may or may not experience. Like Melinda says, it’s not like on TV. We may spend an entire night and not get a thing, but we have witnessed some strange things as well. One instance that comes to mind is we were doing an investigation at a house where Poltergeist activity was reported. I was in the process of setting up a camera in the kitchen area when I felt something fly by my head and heard a crash. I looked and saw that a coffee cup had flown off of a tall cabinet that was a good 5 feet away from me and crashed on the floor at my feet. That was a little unnerving. As far as writing, Melinda and I plan at some point to write something about a haunted house. We actually have an idea of a short story that will lead into a full-blown novel about a haunted starship, but that’s down the road a bit.
MR: I have been a member of WSPIR since 2007. For the record, I wish investigations worked more like they do on TV: everyone seems to be warm, well rested, and they always get at least one piece of really intriguing evidence. How they actually work is you review the assessment findings to decide whether it warrants investigation. If it does, a team goes out to investigate. We have tech teams and sensitive teams. (I hesitate to use the word psychic. That word has so many ridiculous and negative connotations with it now.) We usually set up at night and, if it’s winter or early spring, it’s generally in a cold garage. Then we take readings, test cause and effect, and investigate until the wee hours of the morning. I think that cause and effect probably has the biggest influence for me in writing, in a way. If I do this, what happens? Well, what about this? I think that having to deal with so many different types of people gives you and interesting perspective on how the “average” person reacts to fear. The writing has definitely impacted the investigating in that there’s less time for it now.
PP: What sorts of stories do you plan to work on next?
RR: After we finish this trilogy we will probably move on from zombies. Melinda has a great idea on a YA series that could actually have some of our AfterDark characters do a cross-over. Again, the haunted starship and one I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years now called The Hallway about a guy who gets up in the middle of the night with nothing but his dog and his cell phone. Upon returning to his bedroom, he finds that where his bedroom use to be is just a blank wall that goes on forever. That one is going to be very scary, I think.
MR: All of the stories! I have a young adult horror in mind. Not completely zombie related, and I guess not necessarily strictly young adult. It’s about a boy who can see things others can’t and the situations that arise from that. Let’s see, we want to do the home invasion gone really wrong, a haunted starship, supernatural secret agents, the list is practically endless. Right now, though, AfterDark Chronicles is front and center.
Thanks again, Rick and Melinda, for talking with us!