Monday, December 31, 2012

Two of ten! (Okay, eleven, but still.)

I'm delighted to report that DEAD HARVEST and THE WRONG GOODBYE both made Elizabeth A. White's Top Ten Reads of 2012! (Okay, sure, she cheated and counted them as one spot so's she could still pick nine more, but whatevs. The woman reads 192 books this year; I think she earned the baker's ten.) Thanks, Elizabeth!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Auld Lang Syne

Some years, it seems, pass by quietly, without notice: no forward movement, nothing much of note, just a few more gray hairs to show for them, and some hopes and dreams pushed back to be tackled that next year.

Some years, life stacks up, all coming in a rush. When those years hit, all you can do is try your damndest to hold on.

1999 was like that for me. I graduated college. Got engaged. Lost my grandfather, whom I adored. Moved to Virginia to chase my dream of becoming one of those bug-hunters you see in movies like Outbreak and Contagion. Problem was, that dream wasn't me; it was an amalgam of what I thought I wanted, what I'd been good at in school, what other folks expected me to be.

Other folks who weren't my wife-to-be, that was. She saw how unhappy that path made me. Encouraged me to find another path. One mine and mine alone. And so I left grad school. Left Virginia. Left that path behind. And spent a lot of years chasing a new dream: one of becoming a published author.

Many of the years that followed were of the quiet type. Debt paid down and pages written, sure, but not the kind of progress that I hungered for. I wondered if I'd been wrong. If I'd made a bad decision. If I'd abandoned a perfectly fine path, a perfectly comfortable life, because it wasn't quite what I had hoped it would be. But I kept on down my new path anyway, because I didn't know what else to do but see it through.

Now I know better. Now I know that comfort is the enemy of happiness.

Looking back on 2012, I'm elated I was too butt-stubborn to give up. This year stacked up big-time, and with more good than bad by a damn sight. In February, I released my first novel, and people seemed to really like it. In September, my second, and most folks liked that one, too. I saw two of my oldest friends get married. I ate the best pork chop of my life in Cleveland, Ohio, at at table overflowing with my favorite folks. Had greasy, delicious poutine and fine Scotch with new friends and talented wordsmiths in Quebec. Spent one of the best weekends of my life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin of all places. I read in front of packed houses, and, but for store employees, one empty one as well. And I wrote my ass off, too, finishing three books in one year. HIT, I began writing in October of '11, and finished the end of June. PROOF, which started life as THE ANGELS' SHARE, went through many rewrites starting the day I'd finished HIT, and emerged quite different come September. And the third in my Collector series, THE BIG REAP, I broke ground on as soon as I sent off PROOF, finishing not ten seconds before I began this post, in draft, at least. Not bad for a fella with a day job.

I write this in part because I think it's important to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going. But mostly, I write it by way of thanks. The book community I've fallen in with as a result of all the ink I've spilled since I first set out down this path has enriched my life in ways I can scarcely find the words to describe. I'm truly honored to count those in it as my friends, my tribe, my home.

It's been a hell of a year for me, y'all, and it's been that way because of you. So thanks. And cheers. I hope your next year returns your kindness tenfold.

I think this makes me an honorary member of Sleater-Kinney...

Adam Christopher, ace author of the wildly ambitious and critically lauded EMPIRE STATE (and also all-around nice fellow and great geek-entertainment conversationalist on Twitter) put together a list of his Favourite Things of 2012 (the "u" is his, obviously), and DEAD HARVEST is on it! I'm honored to've made such a fine list, featuring fellow authors Stephen Blackmoore, Owen Laukkanen, Greg Rucka, and John Hornor Jacobs, and some great music and televisual picks as well! (Punk-geek side note: this is likely the first and last time I ever hit the same best-of list as Corin Tucker.)

And Abhinav Jain of Angels of Retribution, who recently named DEAD HARVEST one of his Best Debuts of 2012, has just released his Best of the Best list, on which THE WRONG GOODBYE earns an honorable mention nod for Best Novel.

Thanks, Adam and Abhinav, for the kind mentions.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cover Me

The Qwillery is hosting a Best Debut Cover of 2012 competition, and DEAD HARVEST is among the covers up for vote! If you're reading this, you're eligible, so what're you waiting for? Get over there, and make with the democracy. (Also, you know, fingers crossed you vote for me.)

Fantastically Fantastical!

Today, A Fantastical Librarian announced her list of Favourite 2012 Debuts, and DEAD HARVEST was on it, alongside fellow Angry Roboters Anne Lyle, Cassandra Rose Clarke, and Madeline Ashby, as well as a host of other mightily talented folks.

And yes, that's "Favourite" with a "u." On account of I'm so international and stuff. In fact, since Mieneke, the keeper of the list, is from the Netherlands, I plan on using this as evidence that I am, as cheesy rock bands have dubiously declared for decades, big in Europe.

Thanks, Mieneke!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Chick Best-Of

Melanie, one of the titular book chicks over at Book Chick City, selected THE WRONG GOODBYE for the number three spot (!) of her Top Ten Reads of 2012! Thanks, Melanie, for the kind mention. 'Tis an honor.

UPDATE: Hot on the heels of her top ten list, Melanie posted her review of THE WRONG GOODBYE, in which she says, "THE WRONG GOODBYE is a fantastic read... Buy, borrow, but don’t steal it or you could end up like Sam!" Click through to read the rest.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Damn Books of 2012

Two posts in one day? It's a Christmas miracle!

Anyways, said historic second post'll be a short one. Author Ed Kurtz put together his list of The Best Damn Books of 2012, and it turns out, both of mine are on it. Also included are good friends Hilary Davidson, Peter Farris, and Elaine Ash, not to mention fantastic books from the likes of Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn. 'Tis truly an honor to be in such fine company.

The Next Big Thing

Last week, Frank Wheeler, Jr., author of THE WOWZER (which just wound up on Barnes and Noble's Ransom Notes' year end Best-Of list so go buy it and stuff), tagged me in the Next Big Thing meme that's been making the rounds. Now, I ain't one to tag others (in part because I'm lazy, and in part because I have no friends), but it's been a while since I've written a proper blog post, so I thought I'd take a crack at answering the questions, at least. So without further ado, here goes:

1. What is the working title of you current/next project?

THE BIG REAP. And I think the title's gonna stick, since my publisher's released the cover already.

2. Where did the idea come from?

I've talked before about the fact that my series' protagonist, undead soul collector Sam Thornton, came to me as I was drifting off to sleep one night. As for this book specifically, I wanted to pay homage to the iconic horror I was raised on, from the classic Universal movie monsters (and the novels that inspired them), to Stephen King and Alien, Jaws and Poltergeist and the like. So I folded them all into the Collector universe as best I could.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Folks seem to like to call this sort of book urban fantasy, but it seems to me, that don't quite fit. A lot of the action in my Collector series takes place in the middle of nowhere, which puts the lie to the "urban" part of the equation. I tend to think of the series as fantastical noir. But honestly, so long as folks are buying 'em, they can call the books whatever genre they like.

4. Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm always lousy about this game. My characters don't look like anybody but themselves to my mind's eye. That said, I've had this conversation with some folks online a time or two, and here's a couple bits of fantasy-casting I quite liked.

For Sam, I've heard Josh Jackson, whose world-weary charm on Fringe would fit the bill just fine. Clive Owen was also mentioned, and he's great with the sort of hard-bitten dialogue to which I aspire. Someone suggested Sam be played by Robert Downey, Jr., and I sure wouldn't say no to that, either.

Sam's handler Lilith is another fan-favorite when it comes to casting. Frontrunners include Christina Hendricks and Melinda Clarke. Author Dan O'Shea thinks a young Sophia Loren would fit the bill. I even got a vote online for Sofia Vergara, which is kinda left-field, but what the heck.

And for this book, I don't know who should play the monstrous antagonists, but I'd love Rick Baker to be the guy designing them.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sam Thornton's gig as a Collector means he's charged with dispatching the damned to hell, but when he's tasked with hunting down and killing the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who've cast off their ties to hell – he's forced to ask himself, is he still working on the side of right?

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

THE BIG REAP was sold by proposal to Angry Robot Books by Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Jennifer also brokered the initial deal for books one and two in the series.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

I don't want to jinx myself, since the book's not finished yet; as I write this, I'm at about 92,000 words, and I expect my first draft will come in just shy of 100,000. But I started it in August, and I'm getting close, so I'll ballpark the first draft at five months.

8. Which other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think Stephen Blackmoore's CITY OF THE LOST and DEAD THINGS play in the same pulp-crime-meets-dark-fantasy sandbox as my stuff. Ditto Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt books. As to whether I can hang with the likes of them is up the audience to decide.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Uh, see my answer to #2. For me, idea and inspiration go hand-in-hand. The Collector series is very much an assemblage of all the types of stories I love best: crime, horror, fantasy, action-comedy. I guess at root, I'm trying to write the sort of story I like to read. It just so happens all those sorts rarely wind up in one story.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest? 

It's got my own weird-ass take on vampires, lycanthropes, patchwork Frankenstein-monsters, and brain-munching zombies. Plus a healthy dose of secret history and religious conspiracy, and more action than you can jab a stake at. It also features maybe the weirdest, grossest scene I've ever written. (I don't know if that's a positive or a negative.) And while it's not intended to be the last of my Collector books, I will say this: it is chock full of BIG, IMPORTANT HAPS. So, you know, read it. Or don't. But please do.

So there you have it. Like I said, I ain't gonna tag anybody, but if y'all feel like joining in, feel free, and I'll be sure to link to you.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Visions of Angels

Just a brief post amidst the final writing sprint on the first draft of THE BIG REAP to say that KellyVision and Angels of Retribution have both posted year-end best-ofs, and, uh, I'm on 'em!

On Kelly's list, I just squeaked in at #10, but on the plus side, DEAD HARVEST and THE WRONG GOODBYE tied for the honor! Not too shabby, that.

Abhinav's list at AoR was debut-specific, and action-packed with fellow Angry Roboters. I'm delighted DEAD HARVEST made the cut.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Three New Best-Ofs!

Wow. What a morning. I awoke to a veritable apocalypse of good book cheer.

First off, Grift Magazine went live with their Favorite Reads of 2012, and DEAD HARVEST is on it! And my oh my, what a list it is. Here's a taste of what editor John Kenyon had to say about me (click through to see the whole list, which you should totally do, because it's amazing):

"Holm is a pure storyteller, and his story of Sam Thornton, a soul collector for the dark side, is a compelling tale that puts an otherworldly twist on crime fiction. The follow-up, THE WRONG GOODBYE, is another gem."

Also, Barnes and Noble's Ransom Notes blog selected DEAD HARVEST as one of their Favorite Debuts of 2012! Check it (click through to see the rest of the list, and then buy them all, because dude):

"Holm is a master of pacing and balancing of horror, humor and heart, and The Collector is one of the most engaging series protagonists to come around in a while."

And last but not least, ace author Stephen Blackmoore, whose CITY OF THE LOST is one of my favorite releases of this year (and whose DEAD THINGS, which na-na-na-na-na-naahhh I've already read, is set to be one of my faves of next), also put up a Best of 2012 list on which DEAD HARVEST is included! Here's what he had to say (once again, click through or else):

"This book mixes a hard-boiled detective story with the machinations between Heaven and Hell with this poor schmuck caught in the middle. Extraordinary book. You should buy it and everything Holm has written."

So there you have it. Three lists in one day, placing me alongside the likes of Megan Abbott, Peter Farris, Frank Wheeler, Johnny Shaw, Craig McDonald, Stephen Blackmoore, Joe Landsdale, and Dennis Lehane, just to name a few. I am both honored and humbled. If this is the end of the world as we know it, I'll tell you: I feel fine.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE WRONG GOODBYE a Best of 2012!

Kristen at My Bookish Ways has selected THE WRONG GOODBYE as one of her Best Books of 2012! I'm delighted by the honor, particularly since her stellar lineup includes such killer scribes as Sophie Littlefield, Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, John Hornor Jacobs, James Renner, and Myke Cole, just to name a few. Click through to read her entire list and enter to win a book from it while you're there!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CM: Redemption Song

The question of the week at Criminal Minds is whether we've ever tried to redeem a bad guy in our fiction, and if so, why? You can read my answer here. (Spoiler alert: nearly every character in my novels is in hell or headed there. So, um, YES.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Snobbery's Best of 2012

Wootzah! The Collector series made The Snobbery's Best of 2012 list! And I'm double-psyched to share list-space with Jasper Fforde of all people. If you ain't reading him, you oughta be. Thanks, SJ, for the inclusion!

Friday, December 07, 2012

THE BIG REAP Cover Reveal

As first reported at The Founding Fields (complete with interview of yours truly) and now posted on Angry Robot's site, book three of my Collector novels, THE BIG REAP, now has a cover! And man, what a cover it has. Once more art-designed by Marc Gascoigne, and rendered stunningly by the top-notch design firm Amazing15, this cover fits in beautifully alongside books one and two, while carving out a niche of its very own. If you want my detailed thoughts on the topic of covers, or would like a hint or two as to what THE BIG REAP's all about, pop over to The Founding Fields and check out my Q&A. Me, I'm just gonna sit and stare at my new cover for a little while...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Erin Mitchell's Best Of 2012

Yesterday, the lovely and charming Erin Mitchell posted a list of her choices for Best Books of 2012. It's a damn fine list, peppered with names such as Pelecanos and Lehane, Burkes both James Lee and Alafair, John Connolly and Michael Connelly, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham, and a host of other stunning writers to boot.

It also features both DEAD HARVEST and THE WRONG GOODBYE.

To be included on the list is, of course, an honor. To have both books make the cut? That's got me grinning from ear to ear.

Thanks, Erin, for spreading a little early holiday cheer...