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Friday, 21 August 2015

ℚ Unholy Bargain [1] - Travis Hallden Holt

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Unholy Bargain (, Double Dragon eBooks, 226 pages) a supernatural thriller.

Praise include:

"Lincoln Child fans will enjoy this enthralling tale of a pragmatic lawman trying to solve a case of demonic possession..." review from Bestthrillers.com

"Author Travis Hallden Holt has put together a good, flowing story that is part supernatural and part crime thriller and just one great book." 5-star review from Readers' Favorite.

"...strength is unquestionably the characterization...the reader truly knowns these characters as real people, complete and flawed, with sometimes unwise choices..." 5-star review from BestSellersWorld.com

Author Q&A | Video | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Tour Stops 


Hello Travis, welcome and thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for Unholy Bargain?

"In 1998 I interviewed an inmate convicted of one of the most brutal and senseless murders in Florida history.  Within the sterile, cinder-block walls of a maximum security prison, a baby-faced, 15-year-old boy recounted that gruesome afternoon.

By all appearances, he looked the most unlikely of killers.  He sat in my office with prison blues hanging loosely over his petite, lanky frame.  He looked like a boy who should be bagging groceries or stumbling through school hallways hunched over by an overstuffed book bag.  But that is not what made this case unique.  Forty-eight times he had plunged a knife into the chest of an elderly widow, and even more unsettling was his unwavering insistence that those actions were not by his own will.  In other words, he claimed he was possessed.

I had worked that job several years and learned to sift through lies to uncover truth.  This young man was telling the truth, or at least what he believed to be true.  Furthermore, he had already been convicted, and because he had pled guilty, he had waived his right to appeal.  It served no purpose to lie at this point, especially such an outlandish one.  He was going to spend the rest of his life in prison, and had no legal recourse to attempt otherwise.

I went on to do my own research in the subject matter and was intrigued with the possibility that spirits could influence humans to commit crimes, maybe to serve some bigger purpose outside a personal agenda.  The research gave birth to ideas and eventually those ideas were shaped into a story."
I just had to find out who you were talking about...  amazingly there were three murders committed by 14 year-olds in Florida in 1998 (none the year before, by any minor):
  • on 10 March in Seminole County, Jonathan Arce killed his neighbour June Stillman, 68, who apparently suffered 115 wounds, more than 80 of them cuts and punctures (I take it this is the 15 year old you mentioned, who had absolutely no history of violence);
  • on 16 October in Seminole County, Mark Louis Dufault killed his grandmother Joyce Adams, 60, by stabbing her five times with a paring knife;
  • on 3 November in Jacksonville, Joshua Earl Phillips killed his neighbour Maddie Clifton, 8, fatally beating her with a baseball bat, stabbing her and then hiding her body in the pedestal of his water bed for seven days (i.e. until his mother chanced upon the girl's body).
All three ended up with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.  I know I am digressing, but that really got me thinking about the James Bulger's killers, here in the UK, who in 1993 (they were 10 yrs old at that time) abducted, tortured, killed and dismembered a two year old... and only served eight years in prison and where released with brand new protected identities.
Anyway... moving on!


How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"I've spent the past twenty-two years in law enforcement working with criminals, criminal courts, etc.  Since the male protagonist is a cop, there's no question my experience influenced the framework for that character, and we share many of the same perspectives."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Unholy Bargain - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I came up with the concept of shaking hands to depict a pact made between Satan and a man.  The end-times-looking background relates to a scene late in the story.  I proposed it to my publisher, Deron Douglas, and he took the idea and designed the cover, and did the artwork himself.  He did a smashing job and perfectly captured what I envisioned. "
Why should we read Unholy Bargain and what sets it apart from the rest?  What makes your book unique?
"Unholy Bargain is part supernatural thriller and part crime thriller.  The crime aspect wasn't intentional.  It naturally crept into the story from my work experience.  A portion of the story takes place in the astral plane, or the spirit realm.  It opens up another dimension (pun intended) to the story.  Much of the story takes place where those two worlds intersect.  Also, if you're worried about going to hell and suffering eternal damnation, this book provides snippets of insight into your potential destination.  No kidding.  Kind of like a travel brochure."
Can you tell us something quirky about Unholy Bargain, its story and characters?
"A nerdy, teenage boy comes onto the scene fairly early in the book.  He's the sort who has comic book collections and dresses up for science fiction conventions.  But he's adept at astral projection and fancies himself as having super powers."
Who would you recommend Unholy Bargain to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Readers who love thrillers.  If you like fast-paced action, police procedural/crime with a flare for the supernatural but not in a formulaic fashion, than this is your book."
Sounds good to me :-)
If you could / wished to turn Unholy Bargain into a movie, who would be your dream team?

"I would have J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Alias) direct.  He is the king of thrillers and a master at suspense.

Anson Mount would play Nate Barrington, the cop/protagonist.  He's currently playing a cowboy on Hell on Wheels and has a rugged look and a dark edge that is fitting for Nate.

Katee Sackhoff from Longmire would play the female protagonist and Nate's lover.

This may sound unusual, but I would like to see Brendan Coyle (plays John Bates on Downton Abbey) play the part of the villain.  I love him as the good guy, but I think he's a brilliant actor and could excel as a villain.  I sure wouldn't want to cross him."
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"My interest lies in the physical world and the unseen world.  Where they touch, interact, and dance.  It's a world most people are conditioned to ignore.  Those labelled as "gifted" catch glimpses through the veil.  I find it fascinating."
What is your writing process?
"Much of Unholy Bargain was written from a park bench during my lunch hour.  Usually I would choke down a sandwich sometime late morning, then drive two minutes from my office to a nice, quiet, off-the-beaten-path park.  That routine gave me maximum writing time.

I don't think my co-workers ever really knew what I was doing.  They got together for lunch most days after I had already disappeared.  I think they figured I was just antisocial (which I'm not denying as a possibility).  I simply thought it was an efficient use of time."
It sounds like a very good used of time to me; I have never been able to stop an hour for lunch - there is simply too much to be done!

What is in store next?

"I'm working on a sequel to Unholy Bargain which takes place a few years down the road.  All the main characters will return of course, plus a few new ones will enter the scene.  Without giving too much away, there will be more dealings with the spirit realm: remote viewing that spans time, an ancient artifact, past lives, and "walk-ins.""
Many thanks again for chatting to us Travis, and best wishes with the remainder of the tour!

Unholy Bargain - available NOW!

UK: purchase from Amazon.co.uk purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK purchase from iTunes UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from Amazon.com purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo purchase from iTunes US

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