by Chris Patchell
on Tour August 1-31, 2017
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.
Read my review here
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 🔗
Q&A with Chris Patchell
Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Absolutely! Writing creepy thrillers, there are always true crime stories that intrigue me and trigger a story ideas. Though it was years ago, I still remember hearing the news story about a pregnant woman who went missing on Christmas Eve. The photograph they showed of Laci Peterson was heartbreaking—eight months pregnant, the picture of health, Laci beamed into the camera. While I was researching my second book, In the Dark, I was talking with a seasoned police detective who told me something chilling that stuck with me years later. “As soon as I saw the news about Laci Peterson’s disappearance, I knew the husband did it,” he said. When I started mulling over story ideas, I knew Dark Harvest began with the disappearance of a young, pregnant woman. While the setup for the story was inspired by the true crime case, that’s where the similarities end. The actual unraveling of the case in my book arrives at a motive that will catch readers by surprise.
All authors put a little something of themselves into their work. When I was a kid, we lived way out in the country. On those long summer days, my brother and I would explore the fields behind our farmhouse that seemed endless. One day when we had wandered much farther than we had before, we discovered a house. It was in the middle of a field of long, swaying glass. Blackened with age, seeing it was like stumbling on a real-life mystery. Who built it? Where had they gone? Why had they abandoned the property? It was like one of those ghost towns where you walk through the fence and into other people’s lives. The image stayed with me and many years later, the memory surfaced while I was writing Dark Harvest.
We all see things, feel things, and writers find ways to channeling those experiences into their work, imbuing them with a sense of realism that draws readers in. I love it when I hear from a reader how a scene that I wrote impacted them. It’s the best feeling in the world!
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
OMG, it would be awesome to start with the conclusion and work my way backward, but most of the time, when I start working out a story idea, I’m not sure how it ends. My characters are very real to me and often have secrets they don’t reveal all at once. I like to think of it like a relationship—you don’t find everything out about a person in a few short days.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
All the heroes are based on me! HA! I wish. Some of the people I’ve known over the years have inspired characters in my books though it’s never a whole-sale transplant. When I wrote Deadly Lies, I set it in a company similar to where I worked. A parade of co-workers stopped by to tell me they had read my book and tried to guess the identity of the characters. “Is it…” They’d blurt out a name. Thank god, they always got it wrong. Dark Harvest features single mother, Marissa Rooney, who is struggling to help her daughter overcome her traumatic experiences while trying to keep the rest of her life from blowing up. Marissa bears some similarities to my mother—both were young when they had children, both underestimated themselves, and both had the kind of grit that allowed them to face and overcome their obstacles, sometimes in painful ways. It can be as small as a verbal tic or as big as the way loyalty blinds them to what is staring them in the face and ultimately proves their undoing.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
On a good day, I fall into the creative flow and time disappears as I hang out with my characters. Then there are the other days when I sit down to work and the dogs go racing out the door to bark at the neighbors. My jaw clenches and I think kill the dogs, kill the dogs. Of course, I don’t. I call them back into the house and close the door and they nap at my feet as I limp toward my daily word count goal. Because I always have a goal. Whether it’s how many words I want to write that day, or how many chapters I want to edit. Distractions are like ravenous little monsters desperate to eat up all my time. Facebook. Political news. Yeah. Sometimes I think I should disable the Internet for most of the day, but I’m not that hard core yet.
Tell us why we should read this book.
Dark Harvest combines a great cast of characters who are desperately trying to solve a disturbing abduction. The pace is fast. The stakes are high. And the fascinating motive behind the crime will surprise you.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have a long list of authors I admire, but here are a few of my favorites. I love Stephen King. I started reading his horror stuff in the 90’s. The thing I loved best about his writing back then was that his books were really long. Fast forward fifteen years though, and King has become a master. The way he breathes life into his characters is amazing, like Junior Rennie from Under the Dome. His imagery when unfolding a scene is intricate, beautiful, and at times, horrifying. Lisa Gardner writes well-executed thrillers with good characters and tight plots. Pat Conroy is also a master of characters whose flaws threaten to destroy them. Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pine series is a great example of compelling fiction. Great action scenes. Great emotion. Exceptional world building.
What are you reading now?
This summer I’m on a steady diet of psychological thrillers. Big Little Lies. I loved the HBO series and now am reading the book. Liane Moriarty has a unique, compelling, and funny voice. I just finished re-reading Duma Key, by Stephen King, and have Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter queued up on Audible. I listen to Audible in the car, because for some strange reason, it’s illegal to read and drive at the same time. At least that’s what the cops who pull me over keep telling me. I’m finishing Simon Sinek’s inspirational book, Start With Why. Being an avid learner, I always have a non-fiction book on the go.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
You bet! During my career in hi-tech, we were always struggling to define the next product while we were working on the current release, so when we finally shipped the current version, we could roll off to the next project without wasting time. Rarely did we manage to do this. When Dark Harvest released, I was already editing the next book. Vow of Silence is also a book #2 and picks up a few years after Deadly Lies ends. The life Jill Shannon wants is within her grasp. Engaged to prosecuting attorney, Conner Manning, she is about to give her daughter the family she has always wanted. But the secrets from Jill’s dark past come back to haunt her and threaten to destroy her dreams. It’s an entertaining story that explores the lengths to which someone will go to keep their past hidden with an undercurrent of politics that has been fun to research and write.
I’ve also been developing pitches for a few more story ideas that I have in my pipeline. Next month I plan to invite a group of friends over for a pitch-fest. I’ll have my friends read over three or four pitches and vote on which one is their favorite and why. Liberal amounts of wine may be served to help lubricate the conversation.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
From your lips to Hollywood’s ears! Usually this question leaves me scratching my head and staring at my feet, but not with Dark Harvest. This time if I had my magic casting wand, I actually know who I would want to play the book’s main characters. Kate Hudson would be a good fit for Marissa. She’s beautiful, vulnerable, and smart. Mark Ruffalo has the right blend of cynicism, fallibility, and intelligence to play the Holt Foundation’s lead investigator, Seth Crawford. Xander Wilcox would be played by one of my all-time favorite actors, Edward Norton, who excels at playing brilliantly flawed characters.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Writing! Crap, no. That’s my day job. I enjoy playing the piano even though I’m only a few steps up from just plain awful. And while I love the sound of the instrument, I love the way playing music exercises my brain even more. There is nothing else like it. I approach playing the piano the same way I approach writing. I set goals. Focus on technique. Strive for continual improvement. While practice doesn’t always make perfect, I keep going, even when it is frustrating, because I love it.
Red meat! I know how this sounds, but I could never be vegetarian or vegan. A grilled steak with mushrooms, grilled asparagus and salad is about the best thing in the world. Pairing it with a deep red wine makes it even better.
Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.
Thank you so much for hosting me! It’s been fun.
Chris Patchell is the bestselling author of In the Dark and the Indie Reader Discovery Award winning novel Deadly Lies. Having recently left her long-time career in tech to pursue her passion for writing full-time, Chris pens gritty suspense novels set in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her family and two neurotic dogs.
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