Interview with Richard R. Becker, Author of Third Wheel

24 Aug 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Third Wheel?

I didn’t pick Third Wheel as much as it chose me. After the success of my debut short story collection, 50 States, I had this idea to follow it up with another collection of short stories linked to those in 50 States. I wrote ten of them, one of which was set in Nevada, and published them as a Kindle exclusive called Ten Threads. Originally, I was going to write 50 stories and release them as a complete second collection. But once I wrote the Nevada story, I knew it had to be my debut novel. The story was personal, had momentum, and I immediately knew where it was going.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Third Wheel, what would they be?

This is such a fun question. It’s fun because the chapter titles of Third Wheel hint at a hidden playlist from the late 70s and early 80s. Not all the chapter titles match the song titles, but most people will figure them out.

I have two answers to this question; the first provides a cipher of sorts to the playlist. Brady Wilks identifies with “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who. There is a moment in Chapter 20: Bad Man when he plays this song over and over. He’s asked to turn it down. So he turns it up.  From a broader, more modern perspective, there is a song called “Brother” by Kodaline. It expresses his worldview on friendship.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

My reading is like my writing, eclectic. Some of my most recent discoveries include Fredrick Backman, Joe R. Lansdale, Jandy Nelson, S.A. Cosby, Pierce Brown, and Haruki Murakami. Genre aside, they tell the truth. I enjoy cross-genre writing. It is primarily grounded in literary fiction, albeit darker and infused with something else. My next novel is a psychological thriller, with a literary fiction bent.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

There are 256 books in that pile, and I’m never afraid to add more because I usually read four books at a time. I’m most anxious to start reading Light Bringer by Pierce Brown and Holly by Stephen King, and I’m overdo to pick up a lesser-known indie author.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

There is a scene early in the book when Brady helps an 18-year-old girl wash her orange Pinto. He is crushing on her, which is a problem. He’s only 14, and she doesn’t know it. There is a tenderness to the scene that doesn’t happen very often in Third Wheel, which is probably why I enjoyed writing it. It’s a dark book.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Brady Wilks is a Dungeons & Dragons aficionado. Before his friend group began to change, he was their dungeon master. Sometimes, he tries to understand life through that lens, which is dubious. He faces real-life dangers with no chance of resurrection. He inherited his interest in D&D from me. The rug under my desk and chair is a map of Greyhawk, a fictional world where early game campaign settings occurred. I’m surrounded by a few other talismans, too.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

We’re here to give to life, not take from it. My novel is fiction, but I did use some personal experiences to inform it. In doing so, I’ve never felt better about what happened to me, the challenges I faced, or where I am today — not as a measure of success or income level or job title or owner of things — but as a person.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

It’s never too late, until it’s too late.


Richard R. Becker is the author of the new book Third Wheel

Connect with Richard R. Becker

Author Site



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