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Interview with Chris F. Holm, author of The Collector series - August 22, 2013


Please welcome Chris F. Holm to The Qwillery. Chris is the author of the fabulous The Collector series. The final book in the series, The Big Reap, was published on July 20, 2013 (US/Canada) by Angry Robot.  The superb covers are by Amazing15. I highly recommend this series.




Interview with Chris F. Holm, author of The Collector series - August 22, 2013





TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. The final novel in your Collector series, The Big Reap, was recently published. I'm sad to see the series end. What was it like for you to have the last book published and is there any chance there may be more stories set in The Collector world?

Chris:  What was it like? In a word: terrifying. When you begin any writing project, its potential is limitless. As you write, you winnow it down into this specific, finite thing that has only a passing resemblance to the Platonic version of it that existed in your head at the outset. I knew going into this trilogy the story I wanted to tell, but that's a far cry from actually telling it well. THE BIG REAP takes some big swings. Fingers crossed it connects.

As to whether or not you've seen the last of Sam and company, that's hard to say. Collector novels are a blast to write, and I think there's plenty of story left to tell. But on the other hand, I'm not contracted for any more of them at present, and right now I'm working on something else entirely.



TQ:  Which character in The Collector series surprised you the most? Which character was the hardest to write?

Chris:  Lilith was, for me, the biggest surprise. She began as a riff on the classic femme fatale, but wound up far richer and more nuanced than I ever could have anticipated. That also, incidentally, made her one of the hardest to write, because truth be told, she probably appears on fewer than 100 pages all series. That's not a lot of space in which to work.

I should also note here that my editor, being British, might have a different take on which character or characters were hardest for me to write. Suffice to say any characters from the UK sound far more authentic in my printed books than they did in my submission draft. (I believe he once invoked Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins when describing some of Danny's dialogue from book two. It stung.)



TQ:  What beyond "these are really good stories", if anything, would like readers to take away from reading The Collector series?

Chris:  Obviously, first and foremost, my books are meant to entertain, but for me this series was also a very personal rumination on love and loss, good and evil, faith and doubt. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything so much as lay out my own thoughts, my own struggles. What's been cool is having other people connect with those struggles in a meaningful way. I think beliefs are deeply personal and should often stay that way -- but the questions that get each of us to where we end up are universal.



TQ:  Other than your Collector series, which UF/ParaNoir novels would you recommended to someone who wants to continue to read in this subgenre?

Chris:  Stephen Blackmoore's CITY OF THE LOST and DEAD THINGS are terrific examples of fantastical noir. And Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series is excellent as well. (Yes, the latter is about vampires. But believe you me, they sure don't sparkle.)



TQ:  Are there any additional genres/ subgenres in which you'd like to write?

Chris:  Absolutely! I've always admired writers like King, Crichton, and Matheson, who are sort of genres unto themselves, and write any damn thing they please. In fact, I'm working with my agent now to polish up a mainstream thriller with supernatural overtones. And after that, we'll whip the crime novel I've been working on into shape. I've been kicking around an idea for a weird-ass sf/horror novel for a few weeks now. And somewhere on my hard drive, I've got notes for a YA trilogy. Lord knows how much of it I'll ever get to.



TQ:  What's next?

Chris:  Hard to say which of the above will see the light of day first, but I'm betting it's the supernatural thriller. It's about the murder of a teenaged girl in small-town Maine. And also whiskey. And also ghosts.




TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chris:  Thanks so much for having me! It's always a kick.






The Collector

The Big Reap
The Collector 3
Angry Robot, July 30, 2013 US/Canada
     August 1, 2013 UK
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Chris F. Holm, author of The Collector series - August 22, 2013
Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.

However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Soul Solution | Secret Origins | Flaming Torches | Double Dealing ]




The Wrong Goodbye
The Collector 2
Angry Robot, September 25, 2012 US/Canada
     October 4, 2012 UK
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Chris F. Holm, author of The Collector series - August 22, 2013
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Missing | Soul Provider | Call Collect | Demon Child ]




Dead Harvest
The Collector 1
Angry Robot,  February 28, 2012 US/Canada;
     March 1, 2012 UK
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages

Interview with Chris F. Holm, author of The Collector series - August 22, 2013
Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don't | Collector Mania | On The Run ]




About Chris

Interview with Chris F. Holm, author of The Collector series - August 22, 2013
Chris F. Holm’s work has appeared in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. His Collector novels recast the battle between heaven and hell as Golden Era crime pulp. You can visit him on the web at www.chrisfholm.com.





Website  ~  Blog  ~  Twitter @chrisfholm




Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013



Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013


I was back to work this week so back to the big commute with a lot to read. I am most disgruntled as my Kindle decided not to work before I went on holiday and despite my best efforts I failed to revive it. It was less than a year old but as it was a replacement the warranty was only for a measly 9 weeks or something equally ridiculous.  This was my 2nd replacement so needless to say  I am not amused it has broken so quickly.  This is where proprietary systems let us down. I am almost totally locked into having a Kindle now as I have several hundred books bought from Amazon and therefore, not compatible on other e-readers. I have been reading books on my iPad but its quite heavy and if its a crowded tube and I have to stand then reading on it is impossible. So it's the big debate whether I buy another Kindle and be annoyed with myself or by a Nook and convert all my books. Decisions, decisions.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013
Anyway I am sure you are bored of reading my big whiny tale so onto what I have read. I finished the last two books of the Eddie LaCrosse series by Alex Bledsoe - Dark Jenny and Wake of the Bloody Angel.  They were both great and I will be reviewing the whole series so keep your eye out for it.

I also finished Queen of the World by Ben Hennessy. I can't say I enjoyed it. I thought it was a tad dull and while the concept of mute heroine was a good one I don't think it worked. Or at least perhaps Hennessy needs to write Sarine a bit differently so that she is a bit more brave and less reliant on her companions.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013Two of my sisters recommended a book to me which I immediately downloaded -The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley. It has started out to pretty engaging and hope it have it finished next week.

I have been SUPER naughty and ordered a bunch of books from NetGalley including The Big Reap by Chris.F Holm, God's War by Kameron Hurley, Three by Jay Posey and finally Shifting Selves by Mia Marshall. Now all I need to do is read these and I will be all set!

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013

This is my last full week in my current job and I am super nervous about leaving after 9 years.  I am looking forward to my TBR to settle my nerves. Well, that's it for me so until next week Happy Reading!

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!

After an incredible 1189 votes over a two week period the results are in and ... it's a tie! Two novels from Angry Robot Books tied for first place with 492 votes each.  (I'd like to have a word with Angstrom A. Robot about this!)

I think this is simply a testament to Angry Robot's dedication to having wonderful covers for their novels.  It also has much to do with the fans for both Chris F. Holm's and Chuck Wendig's marvelous writing.

Cover Wars started as a way to recognize and celebrate the talented individuals who bring books to life with their eye-catching covers. While I may not judge a book by its cover, a terrific cover will certainly make me want to know what is on the inside.

Amazing15 and Joey Hi-Fi created spectacular covers for Dead Harvest and Blackbirds respectively.  Congratulations to both for being the Winners of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR!





2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!
Cover created by Amazing15





2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!
Cover created by Joey Hi-Fi




The results:

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!






The 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars Monthly Winners

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!




A huge thank you to all of the wonderful authors who participated in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge and to all of you who read their Guest Blogs and Interviews and their novels.



Cover Revealed - The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm, Review of The Wrong Goodbye & Giveaway

The cover for The Big Reap, the 3rd novel in the outstanding The Collector series by Chris F. Holm, has been revealed!  How awesome is this cover?? I'll tell you. It's utterly awesome!  The folks at Amazing15 have done it again.  The first 2 books in the series (see below) would make an excellent holiday present for the Urban Fantasy reader on your shopping list.


The Big Reap
The Collector 3
Angry Robot (July 30, 2012 US/Canada; August 1, 2013 UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook

Cover Revealed - The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm, Review of The Wrong Goodbye & Giveaway
Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.

However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Soul Solution | Secret Origins | Flaming Torches | Double Dealing ]
PreOrder




Prior Books in The Collector Series:

The Wrong Goodbye
The Collector 2
Angry Robot (September 25, 2012 US/Canada; October 4, 2012 UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
(Review copy provide by the publisher)

Cover Revealed - The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm, Review of The Wrong Goodbye & Giveaway
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Missing | Soul Provider | Call Collect | Demon Child ]


My thoughts:

The second novel in The Collector series has everything I loved about Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) plus some. There's exciting action, a twisty plot, superb world-building, and a terrific cast of characters (returning and new).

Sam gets in trouble (I see a theme) when he's supposed to pick up a soul and it disappears. The powers that be in Sam's world are none too happy when a soul goes missing. Sam has to figure out who took the soul and why. Plus he must get the soul back or he's not going to like what happens to him. He has encounters that emphasize this point for him and were quite wonderfully creepy.

In The Wrong Goodbye, Mr. Holm further fleshes out Sam's  past and the world of Collectors. I love finding out more and more about Sam's world and its mythology. The pacing of the novel could not be better and again the mystery kept me guessing. The ending was exciting, unexpected and just right. 

The Wrong Goodbye is the ultimate road trip buddy story if one buddy happens to collect souls, the other buddy is dead, all sorts of odd supernatural stuff is going on, and there's a mystery to solve. A liberal dash of noir, a pinch or two of horror, and some remarkable characters round out this incredibly fun and engaging read.

(It's not necessary to read Dead Harvest to understand The Wrong Goodbye, but you should. It's also a terrific read.)



Dead Harvest
The Collector 1
Angry Robot (February 28, 2012 US/Canada; March 1, 2012 UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Cover Revealed - The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm, Review of The Wrong Goodbye & Giveaway
Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don't | Collector Mania | On The Run ]


My Thoughts (previously published here):

Dead Harvest is a noirish urban fantasy with a surprisingly different and likable main character - Sam Thornton. Sam is a Collector. He's part of the careful balance between Heaven and Hell. He gets his orders and off he goes to collect a damned soul and send it off to Hell. You might say he works for the bad guys, but it's not quite that simple. In Dead Harvest, Sam is assigned the job of collecting the soul of a young woman (Kate) who has brutally murdered her family. It should be an easy job. Find her, collect her soul, go on to next job. Unfortunately for Sam, things are not as they seem. He decides something is not right about this collection and decides to figure out what is going on.

Sam is an amazingly likable character despite what he does. Through a series of well placed flashbacks we learn how Sam became a Collector. He did not have an easy life. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions' could probably be Sam's motto. Which is not to say that he did everything on the up and up when he was alive. Nonetheless, I was on his side. I wanted him to be right and to figure out what was really going on. I did not want him to have to collect Kate's soul.

In addition to Sam there is a well fleshed out supporting cast. Kate is terrific even though she's not sure what she did or didn't do. She may actually be guilty. In addition we meet some angels, demons, seemingly crazy people, and Sam's remarkably chilling co-worker, The Bishop, who is out to collect Kate's soul because Sam has not.

Dead Harvest does not feel like a debut. Chris F. Holm's writing is assured and the world building is outstanding. The story is fast-paced with several well-done action scenes. The mystery kept me guessing - did she or didn't she and if she didn't what is really going on? I completely enjoyed reading Dead Harvest with its unlikely anti-hero and world painted in shades of gray. The Collector series is on my must buy list.

File Under: Great writing | Excellent World Building | Intriguing Mystery | Terrific Characters

I give Dead Harvest 5 Qwills.




Read The Qwillery's interviews with Chris F. Holm here (March 1, 2012) and here (September 26, 2012).




THE GIVEAWAY

What:  One commenter will win Mass Market Paperback copies of Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) and The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector 2) from Angry Robot!

How:   Answer The Qwillery's Question:  

Is there a novel cover that you absolutely love and what is it?

Please remember - if you don't answer the questions your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, December 26, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.


*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Interview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - September 26, 2012

Please welcome Chris F. Holm to The Qwillery again. Earlier this year Chris blogged and was interviewed as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. Chris' second novel in The Collector series, The Wrong Goodbye, was published on September 25th in the US and Canada.


Interview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - September 26, 2012


TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery!

Chris:  Thanks so much for having me!


TQ:  What do you wish you'd known when the 1st book, Dead Harvest, came out that you know now?

Chris:  Truthfully, my publishing schedule's been so compressed, what with THE WRONG GOODBYE following DEAD HARVEST by a mere seven months, I'm not sure I'm a whole lot wiser than I was when my first book came out. What I am, I think, is considerably more disciplined, and maybe thicker-skinned.

I confess, the two months surrounding DEAD HARVEST's release, I was so distracted I didn't get much writing done. A good review would leave me flying high. The rare lousy one would lay me low for days. And the myriad guest posts, interviews, and podcasts became my focus -- my sole book-work -- rather than playing a support role to the writing itself.

Now, though, I have no such luxury. My deadline for book three, THE BIG REAP, is early next year, so I can't very well squander any writing time between now and then. I've had to learn to adapt. To write no matter what. And as a consequence, I've developed even more respect for those writers who make this roller-coaster appear effortless, and keep putting out good work year in and year out.


TQ:  Please tell us something about The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector 2) that is not in the book description.

Chris:  THE WRONG GOODBYE finds Sam diving down the rabbit-hole of the demon drug trade. And tangling with a giant, pissed-off bug-monster. And picking up an accidental sidekick who happens to be an undead Vegas mobster who, as it turns out, is dating a kickass blind transgendered fortune-teller. If I've done my job, it's a bigger, scarier, funnier novel than its predecessor, one that answers several questions left dangling at the end of DEAD HARVEST, as well as introducing a few more along the way.


TQ:  Which character has surprised you the most in the series so far?

Chris:  At risk of tipping my hand for stories yet to come, I'd have to say Lilith. Her character and motivations are so much more complex -- and more nuanced -- than I initially gave her credit for. The Lilith of myth, which is essentially the Lilith I'm writing, is the archetype for the femme fatale of classic crime pulp. You know, the kind of sexy, redheaded seductress that lays some bogus sob story on world-weary PI in an attempt to play him for her own gain. Only the more time I spend with her, the more I realize she didn't wind up that way of her own accord. She's been dealt a pretty lousy hand, and she's playing it for all it's worth. That makes her far more sympathetic of a character than I anticipated. And now that I have a sense of how that hand plays out, I'm damn excited to write it.


TQ:  In a nutshell what is supernatural noir or urban fantasy noir? Are they the same thing?

Chris:  Noir, to me, is more flavor than genre. And though definitions for noir are a dime a dozen, here's my short-and-sweet: noir is nothing more or less than bleak humanism. I'm talking shit options, bad decisions, and dire consequences. And it seems to me that flavor plays as well in the realm of the fantastic as it does with crime fiction.

As for the difference between supernatural noir and urban fantasy noir, my series has been called both, and that suits me just fine. For most folks, the terms are interchangeable. My only stumbling block is with the "urban" part, because I don't think it's an essential ingredient to the stories I'm telling. Much of THE WRONG GOODBYE takes place in the desert wilds of the American Southwest, or the Amazon rainforest. Very little of it happens in cities. But "urban fantasy" has become a catch-all term for fantasy that takes place in our modern world as opposed to, say, Tolkienian high fantasy, so it makes for a handy enough shorthand nonetheless -- my silly nitpicks aside.


TQ:  Are there any other genres in which you would like to write?

Chris:  Oh, heck yes. In fact, not too long ago, I finished a straight-up crime novel about a hitman who makes his living killing other hitmen. I've got a small-town-mystery-slash-ghost-story sitting on my shelf as well. I've been noodling a high-concept science-nerd thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton for years now. I'd love to write a comedic caper one of these days. And I'd be surprised if I never write a horror novel.


TQ:  What's next?

Chris:  Right now, I'm working on book three in the Collector series, THE BIG REAP. It should be out sometime next year. And after that, who knows? I'm a lousy judge of where this crazy writing-ride is taking me.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chris:  As ever, it's been a pleasure.



About The Collector

The Wrong Goodbye
The Collector 2
Angry Robot (September 25, 2012 US/Canada; October 4, 2012 UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - September 26, 2012
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Missing | Soul Provider | Call Collect | Demon Child ]



Dead Harvest
The Collector 1
Angry Robot (February 28, 2012 US/Canada; March 1, 2012 UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - September 26, 2012
Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don't | Collector Mania | On The Run ]



About Chris

Interview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - September 26, 2012
Chris F. Holm was born in Syracuse, New York, the grandson of a cop with a penchant for crime fiction. He wrote his first story at the age of six. It got him sent to the principal’s office. Since then, his work has fared better, appearing in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Needle Magazine, Beat to a Pulp, and Thuglit.

He’s been a Derringer Award finalist and a Spinetingler Award winner, and he’s also written a novel or two. He lives on the coast of Maine with his lovely wife and a noisy, noisy cat.


Chris' Links

Website : Blog : Twitter : Facebook




The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector 2) from The Qwillery.

How:   Answer the following question:

Have you read any supernatural noir or any noir novels? If yes, name one. 
If not, what is one of your favorite Urban Fantasy novels?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, October 3, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.


*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Guest Blog by Chris F. Holm - Confession Time

Please welcome Chris F. Holm to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Chris' debut novel, Dead Harvest, was published on February 28, 2012 by Angry Robot. You may read an interview with Chris here and my 5 Qwill review of Dead Harvest here.


Confession Time

Confession time: I’m a fan of rules. Of parameters. Of restrictions. As a writer, I feel like I’m not supposed to say that, because it punctures the notion of some quill-brandishing creative-type madly jotting down his or her every whim. And hey, some folks can pull that off: witness Jasper Fforde or David Foster Wallace. But I’m pretty sure my kitchen-sink novel would read like a psychotic fever dream, so when I sit down to tell a story, I give myself a few guidelines to stick to – and it turns out, I’m not alone.

I read an interview with Stephen Soderbergh recently in which he talked about how, when he set out to make his pandemic-thriller Contagion, he drew up a list of clichéd disaster-flick scenes he wouldn’t allow himself to shoot. In the documentary Under Great White Northern Lights, Jack White of the White Stripes talks of leaving his spare picks at the far end of the stage to inject spontaneity and creativity into his performance. And Shakespeare famously penned his sonnets while standing on his head. (One of those I may have made up because I was desperate to have a third thing. As I said, I like rules, and in writing, the rule of three is a big one.)

So, you ask, what were the rules I laid out for myself in writing DEAD HARVEST? (Yes, I’m aware you didn’t ask, but let’s pretend for the moment that you did. Otherwise, I won’t make my word count, and that’ll stress me out something fierce.)

1. No Hero’s Quest, No Prophecy

DEAD HARVEST is a strange little tale, one that filters the battle between heaven and hell through the lens of classic crime pulp. To my mind, one thing religion and crime fiction have in common is the notion of moral agency: good or bad, our actions are our own. So I wanted to reflect that, by creating characters who weren’t lucky enough to be handed a road map. They’re not chosen. They’re not destined. Their arrival is not foretold. They’re just scared, and human (well, most of them), and fallible. They’re doing the best they can in a situation they might well not survive.

2. No One True Religion

Obviously, when you’re writing a tale that features angels and demons, the topic of religion is bound to come up. But I had no interest in telling an explicitly religious tale. So when I sat down to craft my mythology, I decided to cast a wide net. I borrowed from Judaism and Christianity, obviously, but also from Eastern and Middle Eastern religions, as well as Greek and Mesoamerican mythology, folk tales, apocryphal texts, and assorted sundry writings on the occult. I had this idea of the world’s religions as the result of some great game of telephone, a couple millennia’s worth of folks passing down garbled tales intended to make sense of this vast, half-glimpsed cosmology all around them (and largely failing.)

3. Neither Shrinking Violet nor Driven Snow

Look, DEAD HARVEST is at its heart a pulp tale, and as such, it was bound to have a damsel in distress. But what I didn’t want is said damsel to come off like some cardboard cutout paragon of sweetness and light. I wanted her to be fully realized. I wanted her to be scrappy. I wanted her to be flawed. Whether I’ve succeeded is for the audience to decide, but I, for one, quite like how she turned out.

And finally…

4. Fantasy Ain’t a Coat of Paint

This was a biggie for me. Too often in crossgenre works, there’s a tendency to half-ass one of the genres. I wanted to pay equal respect to both. That meant I couldn’t just cook up a crime tale (“They have to rob a bank!”) and slap on some supernatural derring-do (“They have to rob a goblin bank!”) So I set out to create a tale that couldn’t be told were it not for the fantastical element. What I settled on was a potential frame-up, but one in which the person supposedly framed for murder (the damsel in distress I mentioned a ways back, unless of course she proves a literal femme fatale) was witnessed committing the crime.

So were all those self-made hurdles worthwhile? I’ll leave that for you to decide. As for me, I’ll be busy fretting over the fact I couldn’t come up with one more rule – I was aiming for five…


About The Collector

Dead Harvest
The Collector 1
Angry Robot (February 28, 2012 US/Canada; March 1, 2012 UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Guest Blog by Chris F. Holm - Confession Time
Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don't | Collector Mania | On The Run ]
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million : IndieBound


The Wrong Goodbye
The Collector 2
Angry Robot (September 25, 2012 US/Canada; October 4, 2012 UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook

Guest Blog by Chris F. Holm - Confession Time
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.

File Under: Urban Fantasy
Pre-order


About Chris

Guest Blog by Chris F. Holm - Confession Time
Chris F. Holm was born in Syracuse, New York, the grandson of a cop with a penchant for crime fiction. He wrote his first story at the age of six. It got him sent to the principal’s office. Since then, his work has fared better, appearing in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Needle Magazine, Beat to a Pulp, and Thuglit.

He’s been a Derringer Award finalist and a Spinetingler Award winner, and he’s also written a novel or two. He lives on the coast of Maine with his lovely wife and a noisy, noisy cat.

Chris' Links

Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook


The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What are some of your favorite cross genre novels?
or
Are there any genres do you think should not be crossed?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Saturday, March 24, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Interview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - March 1, 2012

Please welcome Chris F. Holm to The Qwillery. Dead Harvest (The Collector 1), Chris' fantastic debut, was published on February 28 (US/Canada). You can read my 5 Qwill review here.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Chris:  You know, I was so stumped on this one, I asked my wife. She claimed to come up blank as well, though I can't rule out the possibility she was just being polite. I mean, everybody wears a feather boa while writing, right? It's great for de-linting laptop screens.

In all seriousness, if I had to come up with one, it's that when I write myself into a corner, I have to move around to get myself back out of it. As a consequence, many a long walk or run wind up with me right back at the keyboard, trying desperately to get a few miles' worth of thoughts down before they disappear.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Chris:  Oh, boy. This could take a while.

First off, I'd imagine it's pretty obvious to anyone who picks up DEAD HARVEST I'm quite fond of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Ditto James Cain, Ross Macdonald, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, and Charles Ardai. On the fantasy end of the spectrum, I'm wild about Tim Powers, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. I'm a lifelong devotee to the works of Poe, Wells, and Doyle. Michael McDowell's written some of the most wonderfully creepy stuff I've ever read. Frank Herbert's DUNE is
one of my all-time favorite books. Folks like Aaron Sorkin, Steven Moffat, and Joss Whedon have probably taught me as much about dialogue and structure as any author. I'm on a pretty serious Le Carré kick right now. And I could happily spend a decade reading nothing but P.G. Wodehouse.

If I'm very lucky, my list of likes and influences hew closely to one another. But there's an even chance I'm just as influenced by crappy late-night horror movies, cheesy punk rock songs, and the occasional obscure commercial jingle I can't get out of my head.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Chris:  Both. Neither. Is there something in between?  (TQ:  Plotser?)

The truth is, for me, every project's different. Some, like DEAD HARVEST, I wing. Others, like my current work in progress, I outline. I'm not sure why. I guess the story tells me what I need to do to get it right.

TQ:  Describe Dead Harvest in 140 characters or less.

Chris:  DEAD HARVEST is the first in a series of supernatural thrillers that recast the battle between heaven and hell as Golden Era crime pulp. (Ha! Four characters to spare.)

TQ:  What inspired you to write Dead Harvest?

Chris:  A lifelong love of crime fic, fantasy, and horror. A fascination with the darker aspects of the faith in which I was raised. And most of all, a scene that popped unbidden into my head as I was dozing off one night and wouldn't leave. A scene in which a man of some renown stumbles out of a pub late one night, unaware he's being followed. As he staggers toward home, he realizes he has to pee, so he ducks into
an alley to relieve himself. His pursuer rather politely gives him a minute, and then ducks in after him. When they meet, that pursuer plunges his hand into the drunk man's chest and tears free his soul. As the man's wide-eyed, twitching corpse hits the pavement, his pursuer says to it, not unkindly, "Sorry -- it's nothing personal."

I'll tell you, I had no idea at the time what that scene was all about, or where it came from, but I knew I had to use it somehow. And I did: it's the opening to DEAD HARVEST.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Dead Harvest?

Chris:  The bulk of my research for DEAD HARVEST was focused on crafting my mythology. I had this notion of all the world's religions essentially being the result of a grand game of telephone, stories passed down the millennia by folks trying desperately to make sense of this vast half-glimpsed and largely inscrutable world that existed all around them. We're wired for survival, after all, not understanding. So I drew as much of my mythology and as many of my characters as possible from a wide variety of religious texts. I borrowed elements not just from the canonical texts of Judaism and Christianity with which I was already somewhat familiar, but also from Eastern and Middle-Eastern religions as well as folk tales, Mesoamerican mythology, and the Apocrypha.

Of course, research-wise, those are just the broad strokes. I'm also constantly peppering my mom, a nurse, with medical questions that I wouldn't dare ask of a stranger for fear of getting the cops called on me. And I research obsessively as I write, constantly checking facts online or tracing the path of my story's action on Google Maps. And there's a scene in DEAD HARVEST involving a helicopter that was one of the most research-intensive things I've ever written. I can't claim I for-sure nailed it, but I will say this: if I didn't, it wasn't for lack of trying.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Chris:  The easiest was by far my main character, Sam. His voice rang loud and clear in my head right from the start. Sam's not me by any means -- he's a little coarser than I, less educated, and decidedly more badass -- but we're enough alike that writing from his perspective is second nature.

The hardest for me was Anders. Anders is a diagnosed schizophrenic, though in reality he simply lacks the filter most folks have that allows them to tune out the crazy shit that happens all around them every day. Writing Anders was all about finding the sweet spot where he read off-kilter enough for his character to work, yet not so off-kilter that it was distracting within the broader narrative. Lucky
for me, I got some good advice early on from my agent, Jennifer Jackson, that set me on the right path.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Dead Harvest?

Chris:  The aforementioned helicopter scene was a blast to write, because it was pure action-movie cotton candy. Hopefully it reads that way as well. And there's a scene that takes place in the subway in which Sam finds an unlikely ally I quite like, largely because when I was writing it, I had no idea that was going to happen. There's something thrilling about your characters going off the reservation.

TQ:  What's next?

Chris:  Well, the second book in the Collector series, THE WRONG GOODBYE, will be out in November. (You can read the first chapter of it at the end of DEAD HARVEST.) I've been fortunate enough to get some decent press for DEAD HARVEST, but truth be told, I think THE WRONG GOODBYE is even better.

Also, I'm planning on hitting as many cons as I can manage this year to promote DEAD HARVEST, so if any of your readers would like to stalk me, they can pop by my website for the whens and wheres. Aside of that, my day job, and working on my new as-yet-super-secret work-in-progress, I expect I'll mostly just be finding an odd hour or two to get some sleep.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chris:  Thanks so much for having me!


About Dead Harvest

Dead Harvest
The Collector 1
Angry Robot (February 28, 2012 US/Canada; March 1, 2012 UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages

Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don't | Collector Mania | On The Run ]

Read an excerpt




About Chris

Chris F. Holm was born in Syracuse, New York, the grandson of a cop with a penchant for crime fiction. He wrote his first story at the age of six. It got him sent to the principal’s office. Since then, his work has fared better, appearing in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Needle Magazine, Beat to a Pulp, and Thuglit.

He’s been a Derringer Award finalist and a Spinetingler Award winner, and he’s also written a novel or two. He lives on the coast of Maine with his lovely wife and a noisy, noisy cat.

Chris' Links

Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook


The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  Two commenters will each win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) generously provided by Angry Robot!

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Favorite mystery writer? or Favorite myth?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Thursday, March 8, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills

Dead Harvest
AuthorChris F. Holm
Series:  The Collector
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
PublisherAngry Robot (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9780857662187
Review Copy:  eArc provided by Angry Robot

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills
Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don't | Collector Mania | On The Run ]

My thoughts:

Dead Harvest is a noirish urban fantasy with a surprisingly different and likable main character - Sam Thornton. Sam is a Collector. He's part of the careful balance between Heaven and Hell. He gets his orders and off he goes to collect a damned soul and send it off to Hell. You might say he works for the bad guys, but it's not quite that simple. In Dead Harvest, Sam is assigned the job of collecting the soul of a young woman (Kate) who has brutally murdered her family. It should be an easy job. Find her, collect her soul, go on to next job. Unfortunately for Sam, things are not as they seem. He decides something is not right about this collection and decides to figure out what is going on.

Sam is an amazingly likable character despite what he does. Through a series of well placed flashbacks we learn how Sam became a Collector. He did not have an easy life. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions' could probably be Sam's motto. Which is not to say that he did everything on the up and up when he was alive. Nonetheless, I was on his side. I wanted him to be right and to figure out what was really going on. I did not want him to have to collect Kate's soul.

In addition to Sam there is a well fleshed out supporting cast. Kate is terrific even though she's not sure what she did or didn't do. She may actually be guilty. In addition we meet some angels, demons, seemingly crazy people, and Sam's remarkably chilling co-worker, The Bishop, who is out to collect Kate's soul because Sam has not.

Dead Harvest does not feel like a debut. Chris F. Holm's writing is assured and the world building is outstanding. The story is fast-paced with several well-done action scenes. The mystery kept me guessing - did she or didn't she and if she didn't what is really going on? I completely enjoyed reading Dead Harvest with its unlikely anti-hero and world painted in shades of gray. The Collector series is on my must buy list.

File Under: Great writing | Excellent World Building | Intriguing Mystery | Terrific Characters

I give Dead Harvest 5 Qwills.

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills



Next up in The Collector series in September 2012:

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - Covers - Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm

The covers for the first two books in The Collector series by Chris F. Holm were recently revealed. The covers were created by Amazing15.


Dead Harvest
Author:  Chris F. Holm
Series:  The Collector
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0-85766-218-7

Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don’t | Collector Mania | On The Run ]


The cover for the second book in The Collector series, The Wrong Goodbye:

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - Covers - Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm


Chris' Links

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter


Keep up to date with the 2012 Debut Author Challenge at the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Page.
Interview with Chris F. Holm, author of The Collector series - August 22, 2013Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 20132012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!Cover Revealed - The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm, Review of The Wrong Goodbye & GiveawayInterview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - September 26, 2012Guest Blog by Chris F. Holm - Confession TimeInterview with Chris F. Holm and Giveaway - March 1, 2012Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - Covers - Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm

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