What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
For your first draft, give yourself permission to write terribly, then edit it until it doesn’t suck. Find an early reader whose taste you admire and whose motives you trust — but never let their input override your gut. Read widely and critically. Be respectful to fellow writers, agents, editors, and readers. And most importantly, don’t give up.
What do you like about writing? What do you not like?
I live for the moments in which my characters surprise me. It’s a high like no other. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I hate outlining. I’m less wild about the times the words won’t come. I’m a slow writer on a good day. When I’m struggling, I barely feel qualified to write a grocery list. The trick is to keep writing anyway.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my first stand-alone thriller. It’s big and ambitious and I’m crazy psyched about it, but I’m a little superstitious when it comes to discussing works in progress — so for now, that’s all I’ll say.
What interested you about writing Red Right Hand?
One aspect of the modern era I find interesting is the fog of misinformation that follows any major act of violence, and the countless acts of heroism and venality it obscures. Red Right Hand gave me an opportunity to explore that. I’m also fascinated by the negative repercussions of viral fame, which is why the book centers on a former federal witness thought dead until he pops up in cell phone footage of a terror attack on the Golden Gate Bridge.
What’s the most important quality in a sidekick?
I’m tempted to say loyalty — but from a writerly point of view, I think the most important quality in a sidekick is that they serve as a good foil for the protagonist. Left to his own devices, my protagonist — Michael Hendricks — is a prickly, self-destructive loner. His sidekicks — Lester in The Killing Kind and Cameron in Red Right Hand — are funny, sociable, and surprisingly well-adjusted given the circumstances in which they find themselves. (I’d like to think they’re also quite different from one another.) Each injects their story with an interesting friction that’s fun to write, and hopefully to read. Each sees the good in Hendricks, and refuses to let him give into his darkest impulses.
Chris Holm is the author of the Collector trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy, and the Michael Hendricks thrillers. His first Hendricks novel, The Killing Kind, was nominated for an Anthony, a Barry, a Lefty, and a Macavity Award and named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015, and Strand Magazine’s #1 Book of 2015. Hendricks returns September 13th in Red Right Hand. For more about Chris, including links to his Twitter profile and Facebook page, visit www.chrisholmbooks.com.