"This book had me hooked from the beginning and I couldn't stop turning the pages to see what happened next. I never read the first in this series but will definitely be going to check it out. The characters have been well established through the first one but there's enough new backstory that I didn't feel like I'd missed out anything except possibly a really good story." - Kirsty, Goodreads
Published: May 30th, 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.
1. What are the disadvantages of being a woman as a thriller/mystery author? (real or based on readers’ preconceptions)
Interesting question. Some readers have assumed that I’m a man and made references to it in reviews. Part of that is because I have one of those wonderfully ambiguous first names. I think another reason people make this assumption can be attributed to the dark, gritty nature of my work. Perhaps they believe that women should shy away from the darker themes, but I think that I would be doing my readers a disservice by making my characters too shiny. Unlocking the motivations behind a character’s actions is one of my favorite parts of writing. Having spent my entire professional career in male-dominated industries, I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on barriers. I focus instead on overcoming obstacles that impede my path.
2. What are the features of your writing?
I love writing multiple story threads told from different character points of view that weave into an complex narrative. I spend a lot of time trying to make my characters deep and realistic. I set my stories in the Pacific Northwest, which is a beautiful place to live in the summer, but in the rainy season, when Mother Nature turns nasty, the landscape itself can present natural barriers that play perfectly into the overall mood of the story.
3. From short stories to novels – which ones we prefer to write and why and which ones do you think are loved most by readers?
A short story is like a successful first date. It’s short, fun, and leaves you wanting more. A novel is more like a great relationship that develops deeper connections over time. I find that writing a short story is a terrific way to focus in on and improve a particular aspect of my craft because shorter works tend to be more focused and don’t require the same kind of lengthy editing cycle. For me, the challenge of writing a shorter work is being able to end it in a compelling way. So, while I enjoy writing short stories, I LOVE writing novels. I love the complexity of intertwining plot lines and character arcs in ways that are surprising which is not something you can typically do within the confines of a short story. That said, any story, long or short, with engaging characters and a compelling plot is sure to please readers. I find that sometimes short stories have more to say and grow into books. I wrote the first bit of In the Dark in a workshop at a writer’s conference. It started out as a small seed that grew.
4. Some authors say that they wrote only how they want. In what length do you (or an author should) consider readers preferences or expectations?
Once upon a time, I owned my own retail record store. As a lifelong music fan, this question reminded me of metal guitar legend, Eddie Van Halen. At a later stage of his career, Eddie believed that he could release an album (Van Halen III) without care or thought how it would be received by fans. As long as he was happy with the result, the audience didn’t matter. And while the album sold a ton of copies based on the Van Halen name, fans were bitterly disappointed in the result. I write to entertain—not just myself, but others. So, it’s important to write the kind of story that readers are going to love but there needs to be a balance. There’s a strong trend in the Indie Author community to write to market. Fifty Shades of Grey and the Twilight series spawned erotica and vampire books too numerous to count as everyone jumped on those bandwagons. As a writer, if I wrote a book that focused primarily on market that didn’t speak to me, it would come off as flat, one note. Like Van Halen III, it would fail to please audiences. As a writer, you need to balance of both to make a book successful. The story must speak to you AND your readers.
5. Same characters, different story. What makes A Holt Foundation a series?
The challenge of writing a compelling series is continuing to find ways for your characters to grow. NYT Bestselling Author, Robert Dugoni says that to keep a series fresh, your characters need to do things that they typically wouldn’t do. I believe that every character in a story needs a convincing story arc, in addition to a killer mystery to solve. The mystery part is easy, but continually challenging your characters is not. The Holt Foundation’s mission is to help the victims of violent crime, which takes many different forms. It was created by Elizabeth Holt, a lawyer who survived her own ordeal, and after a long and successful career as a lawyer, created the Foundation as a way to help others. All the characters associated with the Foundation believe in the organization’s mission, but they’re struggling with their lack of experience and differing opinions on how the foundation should be run. I found this aspect of Dark Harvest particularly enjoyable to write. Back before the days when writing was my fulltime gig, I was in the tech industry where I worked with all kinds of leaders—some good, some not so good. I used those experiences to shape some of the Holt Foundation’s inner turmoil—lack of leadership, conflicting ideals, there was so much good stuff to choose from. I love the idea that while everyone is motivated to do good things, they can still fail, because real life is like that. Even with the best of intentions, things can still turn out wrong.
Thanks for hosting me on your blog! I hope you and your readers enjoy Dark Harvest.
About the author:
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.