Tuesday, June 23, 2020

"Hunting Ground"

Meghan Holloway found her first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at the age of eight and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery. She flew an airplane before she learned how to drive a car, did her undergrad work in Creative Writing in the sweltering south, and finished a Masters of Library and Information Science in the blustery north. She spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples, traveled the world for a few years, and did a stint fighting crime in the records section of a police department.

She now lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with her standard poodle and spends her days as a scientist with the requisite glasses but minus the lab coat.

Holloway applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Hunting Ground, and reported the following:
From page 69:
When I reached the threshold and heard a scrape of sound behind me, I whirled, panning the light across the great room.

“Hello? Is someone there?” My voice sounded high and tight in my own ears.

The cabin was as empty as it had been when I first entered, but a prickling awareness of another presence raised the hair on the back of my neck. I turned back quickly to the second room, expecting to see a hulking shadow in the doorway, but it remained dark and empty. I stepped cautiously across the threshold and panned my light across the room.

I froze. My phone and the coat fell from my fingers. A scream tried to crawl its way up my throat, but I was too shocked for it to escape, my vocal cords as frozen as my limbs. All that slipped from me was a muffled whimper.

The paralysis of shock released its hold, and I backed away, clamping a hand so tightly across my mouth I tasted blood. I did not stop until my shoulders hit the fireplace with a jarring thump.

My phone had fallen with the flashlight pointed toward the ceiling, the light illuminating the room in an eerie white glow. The woman’s shadow was elongated on the far wall as her weight spun slowly at the end of the rope stretched from her throat to a beam above.
Hunting Ground is my first crime thriller, and when I first set out writing this story, I knew it would not be a classic whodunit. I’ve always been drawn to stories that are darker and grittier. Humanity is rarely humane, and as a writer, I always seek the thorny tales in which the darkness of human nature is drawn into the light and laid bare on the page.

People can rarely be lumped into neat categories, and I have never felt like it is authentic to portray a character in such strict terms as “hero.” I love characters that skate the line of the constraints of being a classic “good guy.”

Evelyn is a character who will, I hope, surprise readers. Her progression through the story is filled with chilling turning points, like the scene above on page 69 of Hunting Ground.
Visit Meghan Holloway's website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Q&A with Meghan Holloway.

--Marshal Zeringue