• Featured Novel: 'Phantom Harvest'

    The first book of C.R. Richards's Mutant Casebook series: Phantom Harvest, is an imaginative Fantasy novel that explores these supernatural possibilities: What if atomic testing in the 1950s went wrong and there was an accident that ripped a hole in reality? Humans were pulled into another world. Their molecular structure mutated, giving them extraordinary power and changing their bodies to fit their new environment. How would the mutated humans cope? Would they cling to their old lives, building cities and developing governments? Or would they simply succumb to animal behavior?

    Interview with C.R. Richards

    Did you have to do some research to blend realism in your Fantasy?

    Throughout the book I reference technology and science. I was able to use my Information Technology background in some places. Other topics like genetic mutations, quantum physics and Area 51 (fun subject!) did take quite a bit of research. I also spent time researching the Japanese-American Internment camp, Manzanar for a character back story.

    Name some authors who have influenced your writing style.

    Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett wrote those gritty detective novels I love. Great storytellers like Terry Brooks and Tad Williams gave us epic fantasy adventures. I was a happy reader when Jim Butcher combined the two in The Dresden Files.

    What inspired you to write this novel?

    While this is a suspenseful fantasy, it was the individual character stories which motivated me to keep writing. Most of us can relate to Maialen Tate on some level. Her power will destroy a person's mind with a single touch on their skin. This leaves her feeling like a freak and isolated. Pete, her best friend and the only person that could withstand her power, has disappeared. The story reflects her courage and loyalty as she does whatever it takes to find him. It is her desperate attempt not to lose the only chance she has of feeling somewhat normal.

    Gideon's mother tried to kill him when he was a child. Yet, when she is kidnapped, he risks danger and the loss of his bounty to save her.Gideon tries to explain his need to understand his mother's betrayal,but can't quite come to terms with it. He knows she would kill him if she ever got the chance, but he still wants to confront her.

    Maialen sounds like an overpowered character. How did you set limitations fora character this powerful?

    Maialen is an empath with computerized implants which allow her to merge with any technology. She and others of her kind are a valuable resource to the mutant corporations. These rare mutants are showered with money and luxuries. Maialen grew up in a middle class house hold raised by her policeman father. Her head isn't easily turned by gifts. Rather, Maialen feels a bit self-conscious about her station. It is her upbringing and sense of right and wrong that stop her from abusing her power.

    Ironically, she is also limited by the very technology she relies on. If Maialen loses control and lets too much power escape, the system in her brain shuts down. This could result in permanent brain damage.

    Tell us about Phantom Harvest's world

    Phantom Harvest introduces the dangerous and diverse Mutant World. Created by an atomic test gone horribly wrong, the "Calamity"ripped a hole in reality. The humans torn from their homes were split apart into many versions of themselves. They were mutated. Some theorized that a devious intelligence based the mutations on the person's core nature. Many of them became Dark Elves. These beautiful, but ruthless beings took control. They built a city. Its economy centers on a priceless mineral containing killing magic protected and controlled by Dark Elves. Other types of mutants madeup the dregs of their new society. Some stayed within the protection of the city. Others, criminals and vicious killers, migrated to the savage wilderness known as the Outskirts.

    The Dark Elves have a limited work force to mine for their precious mineral. They eventually entered into a treaty with the Human government. Miners are given VISAs and are allowed to travel through the conduit to the mining town of Hawthorne. Resting at the opening of a conduit between the Outskirts and Kansas, Hawthorne has become a dangerous place to work. Though the mutants have tried to make their human employees feel at home (convenience stores and pizzerias), it is still a savage frontier town.

    What advice would you give to aspiring Fantasy writers?

    First:Spend time carefully planning your world. The fantasy world you create must be believable. Second: Get to know your characters. What are their motivations, inner turmoil and goals. What drives them?

    What's the most challenging part of writing this book?

    It was tremendously difficult walking that fine line between Gideon's relentless nature and sharing his vulnerability. While he is a tough force of animal-like nature at times, Gideon is also flawed. He bares deep emotional wounds that will never heal. Gideon is a complex character. I look forward to exploring his depths in future books.

    What themes do you want your readers to grasp from reading your novel?

    There are several throughout the book, but one underlying theme drives the story. Cruel Ambition: Brutal ruling class overpowering the weak for financial gain. History is riddled with examples of the strong terrorizing and dominating their weaker neighbors. Phantom Harvest explores how far men would go to obtain the power they crave and the consequences.

    Ialso enjoyed exploring poisonous relationships between parents andtheir children. How far should a parent or a child go to repair thattoxic relationship? When is it time to stand away and let go?


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