Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have been always been interested in writing — as far back as high school and college, when I wrote for and edited my schools' student newspapers, but completed my first novel only after retiring. In my writing, I draw on legal experience, but my legal practice largely involved managing high stakes civil litigation around the country, rather than the day-to-day criminal cases that dominate the legal thriller genre. I did, however, oversee investigations into corrupt South Florida providers, antitrust price-fixing investigations, and other matters in criminal prosecutions could — and sometimes — did occur. I began career as a litigator, handling product liability litigation and huge insurance coverage litigation.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Everyone is aware of the role of ambiguous cell phone videos in high profile cases of police shootings of suspects, but the inspiration for A Fatal Cell Phone Video actually came from two sources. On Fresh Air, Terri Gross interviewed the director of the indie film Tangerine, which was filmed almost entirely on cell phone video. I hadn't realized that people were adapting their cell phones for films and documentaries. The other source was the 2015 – 16 political campaign, which was ongoing while I was writing. The campaign provides color or background — or background noise — for the plot.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don't think my habits are unusual at all. I write better if I exercise first, and I actively feedback from local writers groups and my network of beta readers. I also rely on attorneys and others for where my novels call for that require expertise. For example, a co-worker who is an immigrant from India provided important insights to contemporary Indian customs The Blockbuster Drug and friends who practice criminal law lent me their expertise for A Fatal Cell Phone Video.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I try to read widely, but I think Isaac Asimov not only interested me in science, but taught me the importance of writing to be understood. As a young reader, I loved Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck, but I can't say my writing is influenced by them. Before writing my own novels, I read or re-read several John Grisham novels, to understand what the gold standard was. I did not try to imitate Grisham, but tried to use my own approach, which relies a bit more on wry humor. My writings are also more politically aware than Grisham — he generally avoids any hint of politics. I also refuse novels that depend on a conspiracy by some nearly omniscient bad guys, e.g. The Pelican Brief. I try to keep things within the realm of what's real. I find the real world can — at times — be plenty scary!
What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm trying to get people to read A Fatal Cell Phone Video. I've read plenty of legal thrillers, and I think A Fatal Cell Phone Video is actually a terrific novel. It's not To Kill Mockingbird great, but it's far better than its early sales would suggest. Of course, I'm also doing research on another "Devin Garner" novel. And I'm researching some really interesting scientific research that hasn't been covered in a book for lay readers.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Sorry, I don't have any advice to give on this score.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
In one of his songs, Willie Nelson croons, "You can't make an album if ya ain't got nothing to say." I think that's even more so of books. You need a story you want to — have to — tell. And you need to get as serious and candid feedback as you can. (Fortunately, as an attorney practicing in a sophisticated environment, I was used to giving and receiving feedback on writing. And not just on grammar or legal points. The big questions were always: Is this effective? Will the reader — usually an overworked judge — understand and be convinced by the words on the page?)
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
You have to spend time with your butt in the chair.
What are you reading now?
I just finished White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg, and want to read Evicted by Matthew Desmond or Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance next. (I also like to read books by or about scientists doing science and am reading a book on how scientists have come to know what they do about the ice ages.)
What’s next for you as a writer?
Spending some quality time with my butt in the chair, my fingers on the keyboard!
What is your favorite book of all time?
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
Author Websites and Profiles
Gary Reed Amazon Profile