Ronald S. Barrios was born and raised in Oakland, California. He wanted to be a writer as far back as he could remember and began writing short stories when he was about seven years old, all of them mysteries. He always had a character in mind who was a private investigator but never had a name for him.
Growing up in the 80's, Ronald was there at the start of the Hip-Hop movement and like most other kids in Oakland, and across the country, quickly became a part of it. Yes he is a hip hop head to this day. He dabbled in graffiti, but wasn't very good at it, and took on the name of Rey. This became his alter ego and everyone from his friends to his family began calling him Rey. Ronald put writing aside for many years. When the urge to write came back up, it was at that point he realized he now had a name for the character that had followed him around for so many years and begged to be written about. His name was ... *drum roll* ... Rey.
Ronald always wanted to write books the way he envisioned them, without having to compromise, so Rey Books was born.
He calls his talent a God thing because where else could it have come from. Ronald takes no credit because he is just a vessel.
When a woman disappears, Rey is hired by her husband to find her. But a case of a runaway wife quickly turns into something more. Every lead takes the case in a new direction and it seems everyone has something to hide. Eventually murder becomes the solution to the problems at hand. There's a mob hit man whose involvement is unclear, infidelity on the part of the missing wife and the husband,and as if that wasn't enough, a teenage boy is murdered execution style on the streets of Oakland, CA. In retaliation for the murder, Rey's cousin is gunned down in front of his own home. This threatens to spark a gang war that will leave a trail of victims in its wake. It's a case that Rey can't afford not to solve even though it appears that no one wants him to.
What draws you to write mysteries?
I’ve always loved mysteries. When I was a child, one of the first book series I read was the Jupiter Jones mysteries and I watched a lot of Scooby Doo.
The first book of your series -- what came first: the main character of the series or the main situation that arises in the first book?
The first book in my series is Blood Drops. The main character, Rey, actually came first. He was a character that I’d invented when I first began writing around the second grade. Of course then he had no name because the name Rey actually came later when I dabbled in graffiti and took on Rey as a nickname. When the time was right, I transferred the name to the main character of my series because to me it seemed natural as I write in the first person and Rey is really patterned loosely after myself.
Who are some of your favorite mystery/suspense novelists, and why?
My absolute favorite was Robert B. Parker, the ‘Dean of Crime Fiction’. He was and remains the best to ever do it, period. I was introduced to his Spenser series in the ‘80’s and quickly realized we had similar styles in writing even though I had never read him before then. He then became my role model for writing much in the way Raymond Chandler influenced him. I used to say that if Robert B. Parker read one of my manuscripts and threw it on the floor and spit in my eye and told me to never write again, I would have stopped writing at that moment. That’s how much I admire him. Now since his passing, there isn’t another writer alive whose opinion means that much to me.
What is a key element to any good mystery/suspense?
Well I have to say I think the key to any good novel is the dialogue. If dialogue doesn’t ring true, or isn’t fluent, then the story is dead in the water. Specifically for mystery/suspense I’d have to say the story has to give enough information to make the reader want to know how it ends because if you don’t keep the readers' interest, then they won’t want to finish the book or any other book you write, so you need to keep feeding enough information, action and dialogue in the right amounts. That’s why I try not to let too much time lapse without something happening in my novels. I know I get bored when things aren’t moving along at a good pace. Hopefully readers will find my novels do that.
I know that mystery/suspense is your major genre for writing; have you thought about moving into other genres in the future?
I’m toying with the idea of horror, so we’ll see if that manifests itself in the future. I have an idea for a series of short stories in mind, but I don’t want to give too much away. In fact this was an exclusive.
For those interested in writing mysteries, what three pieces of advice would you offer?
First, read, read and read. Get a feel for different styles of the many talented writers out there and see what works for you. What kinds of styles do you enjoy because if you can’t read your own book how can you expect anyone else to read it.
Three, don’t worry too much about creating an ‘Original’ murder or crime because let’s face it, every crime possible has already been written about by someone. Instead pick a crime/mystery and work on the story surrounding it. Make the characters your own. Make the setting your own. Create your own world so when people read your novel they know they are reading a novel written by you. Familiarity is what you want. You want to connect with your readers and become an old friend that they look forward to hearing from.