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…
Interview with Author Chris Patchell
What was the inspiration behind the story?
There are some news stories that you never forget. I found the disappearance of Laci Peterson deeply disturbing. On Christmas Eve 2002, in the eighth month of her pregnancy, Laci vanished. On the surface, she had the perfect life—a loving family, handsome husband, and a baby on the way. The story that later emerged showed that her life, specifically her marriage, was anything but perfect. While I was researching my second book, In the Dark, I spoke to a seasoned homicide detective and I’ve never forgotten what he said about the Peterson case. He said that from the moment he saw the first news report, he knew the husband did it. Dark Harvest begins with the disappearance of a pregnant woman. That’s where the similarities with the Peterson case end. I hope that the shocking motivation behind the crime will keep you turning pages as the story unfolds.
Tell us about your main character.
In my case, there are two main characters in the book. Marissa Rooney is a single mother with a daughter who is struggling to recover from a traumatic event. As much as Marissa’s need to provide for her family drives her, like many of us the fear of failure, of not being good enough, holds her back from fully achieving her potential. Marissa is also involved in a new relationship with her coworker, Seth Crawford. Seth is a former police detective who has joined the Holt Foundation as the lead investigator. His training as a cop and strong ethical bent make it difficult for Seth to accept the investigative methodology embraced by some of the other foundation employees. Seth is also a widower with baggage of his own that complicate his relationship with Marissa. And when things heat up on the case, things really go off the rails for our two heroes. There is no shortage of obstacles and complications in this story that travels to some very dark places.
Which is your favorite minor character and why?
I love Henry Cahill, the Holt Foundation’s computer specialist (read: hacker). He’s smart, funny, and irreverent. While his methods frustrate Seth to no end, his motivations are pure. In thinking through Henry’s character more deeply, I did some research into the group Anonymous, and why they do the things they do. I built some of their ethic into Henry’s character. Near the end of the book, there is a chapter or two written from his point of view. I loved getting inside Henry’s head and finding his unique voice. I could have written Henry chapters all day.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me eighteen months to write Dark Harvest. For much of that period, I was working full-time, dealing with my mother’s illness, and planning a big move for my family. Tumultuous times. There were many days when it was hard to get the emotional distance from everything going on in my personal life to write. But there were also days when it was lovely to have a different world to escape into and focus on my character’s fictional problems for a while. Writing is definitely a form of escapism for me, the same way you can lose yourself in a good story.
If your book was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters?
I picture Kate Hudson when I imagine Marissa. Petite, delicate, and pretty, the two have many physical characteristics in common, although some of Marissa’s hard-knock life must show in the lines of her face. Seth is a little harder to peg. Driven by his inner demons, Seth has burn scars disfiguring one side of his face. Mark Ruffalo has the right combination of intelligence, cynicism, and vulnerability I think of when I think of Seth. If I had a magic casting wand at my disposal, and a big, fat movie deal, I would pick Edward Norton to play Xander Wilcox. Norton is one of my favorite actors and has a unique ability to play vulnerable and at the same time horrifying characters. I first saw him opposite Richard Gere in Primal Fear and was further blown away by his powerful portrayal of a white supremacist in American History X.
Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?
One of the secondary characters, Tory Kaplan, turned out to be one of the most nuanced and interesting characters in the book. Part of understanding Tory’s motivations led me to write an “origin story” of sorts for her. I encapsulated part of this story in a flashback scene that gives us a glimpse into Tory’s heartbreaking childhood and tells us (to a degree) why she is the way she is. I could write a whole book about her.
Is there an underlying theme in your book?
Each of the characters is struggling to overcome some form of trauma, and each of them handles it in different ways. As much as the burn scars have ruined Seth’s face, the death of his wife has damaged his heart. Marissa’s struggle to survive and raise her girls has left her drowning in a deep well of self-doubt. Brooke is struggling to overcome her traumatic experiences. And the bad guys—well, I wouldn’t want to spill too much of their story. While some people rise above their circumstances and grow stronger from their experiences, some do not. Some people let the hard things that happen in their lives destroy them and go on to do terrible things themselves. The theme of overcoming adversity speaks to me on a personal level because we all have emotional scars. We all have obstacles to overcome. How we do that defines who we are as people, and as a writer, I find that people are the most fascinating puzzles to solve.
Fiction can often provide powerful life lessons. What messages do you hope readers get from your book?
You can’t let the hard things that happen in your life destroy you. You have to keep fighting to become the kind of person you want to be. You don’t have to do this on your own. If the emotions you’ve been wrestling with threaten to overwhelm you, find people to help. In many ways, I see this as the mission of the Holt Foundation—to be that beacon in the darkness for those who need it. I also think that by helping others, you can also help yourself.
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.
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