My Hometown & the Setting for Mute Witness

February 12, 2016

Mute_Witness_Final

If any of my family or anyone I grew up with reads Mute Witness (published by Dreamspinner’s sister house, DSP Publications and out on February 3, 2016), they’ll know I based the town in the book, Summitville, PA, on my own hometown of East Liverpool, OH.

In the book, I describe Summitville like this:

As Sean drove through the streets of Summitville, with their curves and rises as the concrete mapped out a destination on the hills, he couldn’t help but think what a contrast the little city presented: the beauty of the hills, rising up above the town, tree-covered, the Ohio River twisting through its valley, all scarred by the evidence of human habitation. The houses perched, clinging to the hillsides, most of them in need of paint or repair, the rusting carcasses of cars littering many of the driveways. People, too poor to afford air conditioning, sat on front porch stoops fanning themselves, staring dumbly at the traffic passing their homes. Sean wondered why he even bothered to live there. He was a good, if not great, writer, passable enough to maybe not write the great American novel as he had once dreamed of doing, but adequate enough to at least work at a larger newspaper in someplace like Pittsburgh or maybe even Chicago. But he knew the reason he stayed. And it wasn’t because his roots were here. Nor was it because of Austin, whom he had once figured would be happy to pull up stakes and follow him anywhere. Nor was it because of his job, which valued his writing ability at the majestic sum of $32,000 per year.

No, he stayed because of Jason. To be near his little boy. The only child he would ever have. He wanted to watch his son grow up, to shepherd him to adulthood, to make sure he grew up compassionate….

An article on rustwire.com “East Liverpool and the Unforgiving Economy of Rural Appalachia”, (from 2014) describes East Liverpool today sadly, yet accurately. Just a disclaimer—this little town is where my roots and most of my family and some dear old friends are, so I don’t mean to disparage, but only to illuminate my inspiration for the fictional town of Summitville. I think it’s interesting to see how a kind of grim story arose from these grim surroundings.

But, like the fictional town and the real one, and the book and real life, where hope lives, redemption can arise. Read for yourself and see.

448_IMG_2555_adjusted

“About 100 miles Southeast of Cleveland, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, along the Ohio River sits the small city of East Liverpool, Ohio. Once known as the pottery capitol of the world, many of the China and glassware factories have closed, as have the steel mills where many East Liverpool residents once worked. In its heyday during World War II, almost 50,000 people lived in East Liverpool. Today the city’s population tops off at just above 10,000.

“Nearly 30 percent of all residents live below the poverty level. The per capita income is just more than $16,000. The unemployment rate is 13 percent. It’s a city where almost every second or third house seems to be abandoned, and not just abandoned. Some are burnt out. Some are falling down. The locals talk about the incessant and merciless drug traffic. They say dealers have come up to the city from the east coast – having found a robust market for heroin and other opiates. The drug trade wreaks constant havoc on the streets. In late September, five people were shot there in a single night.”

BLURB

The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.

Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.

And then their perfect world shatters.

Jason goes missing.

When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.

As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.

 BUY
DSP Publications ebook: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/mute-witness-by-rick-r-reed-206-b
DSP Publications paperback: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/mute-witness-by-rick-r-reed-207-b

Note: When you buy the paperback from DSP Publications, you get the ebook for FREE.

NOH8Rick

RICK R. REED is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

FIND RICK:

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RickReedWRITER
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Email: jimmyfels@gmail.com

 

Leave a Reply