by Chris Patchell
Published by: Kindle Press
Publication Date: May 30th 2017
Number of Pages: 336
Series: A Holt Foundation Story, Book 2
Purchase Links: Amazon ? | Kindle Unlimited ? | Goodreads ?
Becky Kincaid ventures out in the middle of a snowstorm to buy a car seat for her unborn baby and never makes it home. When a second pregnant woman disappears, Marissa Rooney and the team at the Holt Foundation fear a sinister motive lurks behind the crimes.
Lead investigator, Seth Crawford, desperately searches for the thread that binds the two cases together, knowing that if he fails, another woman will soon be gone. While Seth hunts for clues, a madman has Marissa in his sights and she carries a secret that could tear her whole world apart.
Can Seth stop the killer before he reaps his dark harvest.
What does a day in the life of Chris Patchell look like?
Chris: A typical day starts early differently than it used to. I used to get ready for work and jump into the car for a grueling 1.5 hour commute into Seattle (each way), but having made the shift to full-time writer, the rigors of my morning routine have eased. After my family leaves the house, I take our two neurotic Yorkies for a walk. Two miles later, it’s time to get to work. Business before pleasure, I spend the first hour reading emails, posting on social media, etc. Then I open up my manuscript. I spend a few hours in the morning writing—which differs depending on what phase of a project I’m in. Blue sky writing is my very favorite thing to do. I love letting my imagination take flight with my fingers furiously trying to keep up. If I’m not writing something new, I’m editing—reading and critiquing scenes and fixing what needs to be fixed. Round about noon, my husband comes home for lunch. If it’s nice out, we eat outside and chat about our mornings. Afterwards he heads back to work, I spend the afternoon continuing to write. I always have a goal in mind when I sit down at my laptop. My last writing block ends when my kids get home from school. The final hour of my working day is spent doing business—research, email, social media, or whatever else needs to get done. I try to structure my days like I did when I had a full-time job. Somedays that is easier to achieve than others.
What is it about suspense that appeals most to you?
Chris: I love love love the high stakes and fast pace of a suspense story. I adore the kind of story that keeps you turning pages because you can’t wait to see what happens next. My favorite kinds of reviews include the words “I couldn’t put this book down” because it means my work has hit its mark. My books are filled with flawed characters who travel down dark, twisty paths on a journey fraught with peril. Finishing a good suspense story is kind of like getting off a roller coaster. The initial rush of accomplishment is followed by the sigh of relief that you survived the trip. Pretty soon though, you’re itching to get back in line to take another ride.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated book?
Chris: It’s tough to say which is my favorite, so I’ll tell you about the most recent. Fiona Quinn’s WASP is a fun read. Trained Killers are after scientist Zoe Kealoha. Her marine boyfriend, Gage, saves her from the attack. But to keep Zoe safe, they must unravel the conspiracy behind the attack and identify (and neutralize) the mastermind. It’s a fast-paced book with lots of interesting details and a dash of romance.
What types of scenes do you find the most difficult to write?
Chris: Wow. Truth be told, I hate writing sex scenes. I feel like an awkward teenager when I write them and even worse when I hand them over to my editor. The fact that other people are going to read them, potentially a lot of other people, well… I remember reviewing the sex scene in Deadly Lies. I must have made a face because my husband asked me what was wrong. “Even I’m bored by this sex scene,” I said. He laughed and I rewrote it. Again. Humorous scenes are also tough. Although I’m witty by nature, my humor is typically situational. Sitting down to the keyboard cold, the first draft of my scenes come out about as funny as a second grader telling a joke. Pretty flat. Though I do try to work some humor into some of my stories, it’s a good thing for me, they’re not a staple of suspense fiction. I spend a fair bit of time editing them to try and strike the right tone.
Can you tell us more about your newest release Dark Harvest?
Chris: There are some news stories that you can’t get out of your head. For me, the disappearance of Laci Petersen, was that kind of story. As I was mulling over potential story lines for Dark Harvest Laci, and the tragedy of her and her son’s deaths, wouldn’t go away. So, I started to write. Though the story starts out with the disappearance of a young, pregnant woman, that’s where the similarities end. While the police have focused on the father of the baby as their most likely suspect, the investigation team at the Holt Foundation pursue other leads. The Holt Foundation has lost its leader, and the remaining members of the team are struggling to keep the foundation together while trying to solve the crime. Marissa is torn between her work at the foundation and trying to help her traumatized daughter. Former cop, Seth Crawford’s deep respect for the law is at odds to the way fellow investigator (and hacker) Henry Cahill does business. Henry believes that the ends justify the means and doesn’t think about the consequences when he does what he thinks is right. The inexperienced head of the foundation, Evan Holt, is left running the ship after his aunt succumbs to cancer. Each of these characters are doing their best to keep it all together while they search for the missing woman and her baby before it is too late. Though Dark Harvest utilizes some of the main characters as In the Dark, it’s written as a standalone, so readers don’t have to start at the beginning to enjoy this book.
What would you say is the most challenging part of developing the complex characters you bring to life?
Chris: Every character has his or her own story to tell. The story arcs of the main characters drive the overall plot, and I spend a lot of time fleshing out figuring out what drives them and why. What are their fears? How do those fears play into the character’s actions? To answer this question more fully, I think about the kinds of formative experiences they have had that created their world view. Figuring out the source of emotional scars adds depth to a character. I also use this method to flesh out my secondary characters. Henry Cahill played a small role in the book In the Dark, but in Dark Harvest, Henry’s role grew. I spent a few days mulling over Henry and what motivates him. I came to the realization that he was a lot like members of the group Anonymous—his goal was to fight for those who could not fight for themselves, and for him, the ends justified the means. By the end of the book, I could tell you just as much about Henry, or Xander Wilcox, as I could the main characters, Marissa and Seth.
As far as writing goes what are your future plans?
Chris: Right now, I’m editing the second book to the Deadly Lies trilogy. The book is called Vow of Silence and explores how far someone might go to keep the secrets of the past hidden. The trick to writing a good series is finding new ways for your characters to grow that will surprise, delight, and sometimes horrify your readers. Besides, numerous readers have threatened bodily harm if I don’t finish the trilogy. J I’m also working on two or three story ideas for the next book. I love the idea of building a story pipeline that directs my work.
What question do you wish someone would ask about you or your book? (then answer it)
Chris: How did you learn the craft of writing?
Educated in the technology field, until I started writing Deadly Lies, I had never taken a specific literature or writing course, which can be kind of daunting. The tech industry tends to attract people who have a deep interest in learning, and I’m no exception. Once I decided that I wanted to write a book, I set out to learn, and for the next few years, I took a bunch of courses and read dozens of books on the craft of writing. And you know what they say, the best way to learn about writing is to write. I did a lot of that too. I’m never afraid to throw something away that isn’t working and find a better idea. I think this is an important point because there are people that feel like they need the right credentials before they do something great. I was scared to death to publish my first novel. What if it was a flop? What if people hated it? Fear of failure is real, but pushing through that fear teaches you that you can accomplish things you never dreamed possible. When I finally made the decision to publish, I had to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and reconcile myself with the idea that there may well be flaws in my work, but each book is an opportunity to get better. If I hadn’t taken that risk, I would have missed the opportunity to share my work and meet fabulous readers.