Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author David Halvorsen
Dave is a pastor that loves to write. He lives in Mount Vernon, Washington with his wife, Trisha, and their three kids—Anayah (6), Autumn (4), and John David (1). For fun, the family loves to travel, eat, explore nature and read a good book together.
Book Sample: Hush, child
Genre: supernatural crime thriller
Synopsis: Judah Greer is an alcoholic without the will to sober up, that is until his long lost daughter reenters his life. When Mara becomes the twenty-fifth victim of a serial kidnapper, he launches out on a frantic quest to save her. Aided by a mysterious young girl who may or may not exist, and a detective with a vendetta of her own, he tumbles down a rabbit hole and into a world where nothing is certain and no one is safe. The spiritual clashes with the natural in this supernatural thriller as events spiral out of control toward an ending prophesied from the most ancient of Holy texts: “Behold, I will send you the spirit of Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Excerpt: “We have to go, Cora.”
Dazed, Cora lifted her head. “It’s too early,” she countered.
Mara scowled. “I need to be there early.”
Cora closed her eyes. “You already had a practice run.”
Resentment flashed over Mara. “I know that. This is different, because we’re in the stadium for the first time.”
Cora pulled the sheet over her head.
Mara waited for a response, but to no avail. Slamming Cora’s door, she snatched up her purse and bag and stormed out of the condo. Pulling out her cell, she called a cab, and plopped down in a huff on the front step to wait the fifteen minutes.
She presently loathed her mother more than she had in a long while. Cora had always been indifferent and taciturn, but this was a new level of cruelty that Mara hadn’t yet seen. Maybe it was because of Judah. She didn’t know. Even if it was, that didn’t license Cora’s selfishness.
The cab rolled up. It was from a company she didn’t recognize. Mara approached as the driver rolled down his window.
“Need a ride?”
Mara frowned. “I called for a Yellow Cab, but you’re…” She swept her gaze over the flaked lettering but was unable to make it out. “Are you with them?”
The man bore a full head of grease-coated hair that appeared to reach his lower back. His square jaw was peppered with scruff, except in the vicinity of three jagged scars that yawned from his cheekbone and stretched down his throat. She was transfixed, and didn’t hear his response until he repeated himself: “They’re busy and called me to fill in,” he explained, his smooth voice resonating, reminiscent of the tune of a cello.
She shook out of her daze and, with an apologetic glance, opened the back door and slid in.
“Where to then?” he asked, while bringing the car out onto the main street.
“I told them,” she reminded him, becoming increasingly apprehensive.
“Must’ve been lost over the frequency.” He tapped the radio with a knuckle.
“Right, okay then, to University Stadium. I’m graduating today.”
“And at seventeen; that means you’re clever,” he added with a smile as he glanced at her in the rearview.
She returned his smile with a taut press of her mouth, and couldn’t shake the impression that something was askew. He kept to himself for the remainder of the ride, but compensated for his silence by studying her. Each time she caught sight of his eyes in the rearview, a shiver slithered up her spine. She sighed with relief as they pulled into the stadium’s lot. Peering between the two front seats, she saw that the tab was for forty dollars. Jumping from the cab, she rounded to his open window, and grimaced when seeing that she only had a crinkled five-dollar bill.
“Um, look, mister, do you mind that I only have five?”
He offered a flamboyant grin, which caused his scars to twitch. “That’s all right. I’ll wait here. Maybe your mommy can give you the cash when she comes.”
She sprinted into the stadium. “Creep,” she muttered between gasps. She’d make sure to avoid him like the plague.
The following thirty minutes flew by as she floundered to and fro, searching apprehensively for her graduating class. They were filing into the auditorium when she saw them across the fray. Embarrassed, she managed to slip into her gown in stride, and donned her cap as she took her allotted seat.
“Margaret Abernathy,” the spokeswoman called over the PA system.
During the proceeding hour, her mind wandered in a daze. She hoped Cora would show; both she and Judah.
She snapped to—they were in the P’s. Her row would soon stand. She swept her gaze over the reserved seating, and smiled when seeing Cora hunched over her cell. Twisting around, she played her eyes over the uninterested faces, and was about to give up when a flicker caught her attention near the exit. Judah was waving both hands. Her chest fluttered and her smile returned for a second show of affection.
A rustle on both sides caused her to swivel back around. The usher was motioning for her row to join the swiftly moving stream of soon-to-be graduates.
Christopher Pratt was announced. Mara was next. Cora pried her attention from her smart phone in time to see her mount the stage.
Mara shot her gaze into the back of the stadium—looking for… she grinned when her eyes connected with Judah’s.
Mara marched across the stage with a heartwarming smile. She again glanced toward Judah and then at Cora, and what she saw caused her throat to contract. The principal was pumping her hand and setting a diploma into her other, but she understood none of it. Her mind was steeped in a fog. “Well done, Mara,” the superintendent congratulated though she was elsewhere, with wide eyes riveted to her mother’s retreating back.
Nausea snaked into her belly as she progressed offstage and back into the swiftly moving brook of new and cheery graduates. The remaining names were monotonously announced. Forbidden catcalls and whistles of overzealous family and friends droned on. It was an opaque blur that passed overhead. In contrast, what she vividly grasped was the memory of her mother’s back facing her moment of triumph, striding away in a fit of indignation.
The band played the last song. The auditorium stood in unison. Mara was marinated in confusion, while her classmates flung their hats towards the vaulted ceiling. After the momentous euphoria fizzled, the throng dispersed in pursuit of their loved ones—all except the dispirited young lady who wept into unsteady hands.
The scent of cheap cologne wafted over her, and she heard the adjacent chair creak under someone’s weight, followed by a sturdy hand that rested between her shoulder blades. “I’m sorry, Mara,” consoled Judah’s raspy voice.
Without looking at him, she leaned into his arms and rested her face against his chest. She was sniveling, and only peered up after regaining her composure. “Thank you,” she said with a wearied smile.
He looked at her empathetically. “Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
She believed him.
“I’ll take you home,” he intoned.
She stood compliantly and, without fully understanding her actions, slipped her hand into his. Neither spoke during the ride home. After he pulled onto her street, he let the engine idle, reached into the back, grabbed a brown parcel, and offered it to her with a comforting expression.
She was surprised, not having expected a gift from him other than the fifty bucks.
“Wait till you get inside before opening it.”
She looked at him for an explanation, but he only smiled.
“Oh, right, almost forgot. And here’s your blood money.” He slapped a single bill into her hand.
A smile broke past her despondency. “Thanks,” she offered.
“No problem, kid.”
Reaching over, she pecked him on the cheek, but hopped out before he could respond. She scurried to the front door, turned to wave with another smile tipping up her lips, and then slipped inside.
She traipsed into the family room and collapsed into the loveseat. What a strenuous day, she thought, but then smiled as she held up the parcel; he had wrapped it in a paper bag. She ripped off the paper and found herself staring at a leather-bound Bible. Cute, she thought. She placed the Bible on the coffee table, rested back, and closed her eyes to thoughts of the depressing day.
A violent wind awoke her. The front door slammed, adding to the banshee-like wails. Mara struggled out of the loveseat, forced the window shut, and then poked her head into the hall. Cora was climbing the stairs, and stopped mid-step when spotting her daughter.
“So, you finally came home,” Mara scolded.
Cora cleared her throat. “Do not speak to me with that tone, young lady.”
“Where’d you go, then?”
“None of your concern. You have Judah to attend to you.”
So this was it then—the reason for deserting—Cora hated Judah to that extent. “You’re being selfish.”
“Don’t think you can rebuke me, you little traitor.”
“If he’s as bad as you make him out to be, then why did he come to the most important day of my life…and…and you value your disdain for him more than your love for me?”
“You really don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?” Cora descended the stairs and, standing toe-to-toe, glowered at her daughter. “You don’t know how twisted he is, do you? Let me ask you a question. Perhaps it will put something into perspective.” She chose her words carefully. “I was seeing Thomas while still married to him.” Her scorn deepened. “He didn’t know how to accept the fact that I didn’t love him.” Ire bubbled behind Cora’s eyes. “And now, after all these years—he still hates me.”
“How do you know that?” Mara interjected.
“Because of the facts.” Cora placed her hand on Mara’s shoulder. “You impudent brat. If you had half a brain you would have listened and stayed away from that man. Now look what you’ve done.”
“What do you mean?” Mara asked, confused.
“Judah isn’t your father.”
“What do you mean?”
“Exactly what I said.”
Mara was miffed. “Did you ever tell him?”
“Of course. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s what forced him into lunacy!” she spat. “He’s a crazed buffoon who couldn’t take no for an answer, and the thought that he wasn’t the father of my child pushed him over the edge.”
“If he knows, then why’s he treating me like his daughter? Why’s he acting like my father?”
“That is precisely what I am asking. Look what you have done—you’ve gone and opened Pandora’s Box. You’ve allowed a delusional man into your life. You’re no longer safe—not while Judah’s prowling in the shadows. Before your senseless brain understands, you’ll be fastened to the bedposts for months on end as he gets a sadistic kick from seeing you writhe.”
With that, Cora turned and strode up the steps.
Mara was speechless. She didn’t know what to think, or how to think. Why would Judah deceive her? Why would he be so kind, let her into his home, let her vent on his shoulder, attend her graduation, give her a gift, and embody all of the traits that she had ever envisioned in a father? She didn’t know, and needed to understand.
After collecting her nerve, she climbed the steps and rapped on Cora’s door. Cora didn’t respond. She pressed it open. The lights were on in the attached bathroom. Padding over, she opened the door without knocking and stiffened at what greeted her: Cora was in mid-stroke of slicing her thigh with a razor. Streaks of blood smeared her hand and trickled down her leg. Countless white scars, reminiscent of a pond of maggots, spackled her thigh. Numerous emotions flashed over Cora’s face: fear from discovery, irritation, and lastly, acute vehemence leveled at Mara. “GET OUT!”
Mara wanted to run; instead, she stared dumbly and in dismay.
“GET OUT!” Cora roared, jabbing her finger at the doorway. She then advanced and slammed the door in Mara’s horrified face.
Mara ran. Tripping down the stairs, she rushed into the family room, grasped her purse, and dashed from the condo and into the howling wind. She needed to pace, and to think, and to cry, and to pray.
Blinded by uncontrolled emotion, she didn’t notice the taxi pull out from the shadows and pursue her from behind.
She dug for her phone and dialed a cab. A raindrop slapped her nose. Determined to tough out the inclement weather, she trudged down the block.
Cora needed help. In a strange way, she was thankful that she saw her cutting. Cora’s narcissism had suddenly become more complex. Deep-seated issues forced her behavior. Knowing this, Mara found it more difficult to scorn her.
At any regard, she needed to leave, and could think of only one person to run to—Judah. However, the nagging detail that Judah was an imposter convoluted things. He owed her an explanation.
About ten minutes had elapsed since she had called the cab, which was why after rounding the street corner, she was surprised to find an advancing pair of headlights. “They’re early?” she muttered.
The glare of the headlights prevented her from noticing the man’s scarred face until she was peering through his window. “Where to this time?” he asked jovially.
Her throat clamped into a knot. She wasn’t going anywhere with this man. “Um, I called a different taxi service,” she managed to squeak.
“That’s true. They radioed me again. So happens that I was in the area—it’s nice when things line up, isn’t it?”
She shook her head. “I changed my mind. I don’t need a cab anymore. Thanks though.” She turned and trekked back towards the condo.
The sound of his engine revved from behind and he pulled alongside her. “Come, come, little girl—I won’t hurt you.”
She broke into a run, but he accelerated to maintain her speed. The porch light of her condo was on down the street. Not far, a minute away. She heard the car accelerate further; then it struck her from behind. Sprawled on the wet tarmac, she tasted blood. Leaping back to her feet, she sprinted. The quiet click of an opening car door cracked against her ears, followed by the chilling slap of her assailant’s boots. She ran harder—breath ragged—emotions frenzied. His hand landed on the small of her back. She left the ground for a moment, suspended, and glimpsed her reflection on the wet pavement before landing facedown. In the process of screaming, she sucked in a mouthful of water. It sprayed into her trachea. Her body lurched. She gasped and sputtered, and was unable to raise her voice above a whisper as he grabbed her around the waist and dragged her towards his cab. He threw her into the back, reached over, and snatched a coiled cord from the floor, where he gagged her, bound her, and struck her on the side of the head. She blanked out, but before her mind dissolved into a fizzing cacophony of static, she heard the roar of the engine and felt the nauseating motion of the car as it peeled from the neighborhood.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? I started writing my first book at twelve, which was 1995, and finally finished and published it in 2011. The book that’s getting published now, Hush, child took only five years in comparison. Lol. My goal going forward, and I think I’ll achieve it, is to write a book a year.
Why do you write? I love creating. And I also love it when the characters and story come to life and begin creating themselves. I think the pull for me is to listen to what they’re telling me and to try and pass on their message to whoever else that wants to listen.
When did you decide to become a writer? I think this happened subconsciously at twelve, that age when I first started to write down that cursed story that never seems to die. We were a missionary family living in Ireland at the time. I was enrolled in the local country school—40 kids grades kindergarten to their version of twelfth grade, and two teachers—at any rate, I wrote a short story for literature and the Principal complemented me on a verb usage. I think I said that a driver of a truck poked his head through the window. The Master, as the Irish lads and lasses call their teachers, apparently thought this to be more descriptive than what I could have otherwise used. Who knew that this would’ve been inspirational for me? Ha! The small things in life can have substantive impact, I guess.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? My imagination can’t help but create complex characters that journey through strange and daring worlds. It’s in me and the most natural outlet for me is to put it in story form. I suppose others compose music, and others paint or draw, or craft, or what have you; for me it’s to write.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured? I take a couple hours a day. Complete silence—no music, no kids, no wife, just silence. I then enter into the zone and write what comes.
Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? Both. I can see the general plot, the north star so to say, but on the journey the characters seem to develop life of their own. When this happens, I let go of the reigns and wait with no little sense of expectation to see where they take me.
Where do your ideas come from? The heart. Maybe God, at least this is what I hope for. I write for him most of all. He’s my passion, the one that I dedicate my work to. MF: I believe it is from God. He did give us freewill and imagination.
What’s the hardest thing about writing? Doing it when I’m not in the mood. I’ve never struggled with writer’s block. I’d even be open to having that just so I could see what it’s like. My struggle is with buckling down and just doing it when I don’t feel like it.
What is the current book you are promoting? Hush, child. It’s about a recovering alcoholic that’s hunting for his estranged daughter that’s been kidnapped by a person who calls his or herself Satan’s prophet (that felt like it was a mouthful). The story’s about the fractures that happen between parents and their children, and the power that’s to be had with restoring the family. The book is gritty in parts, and controversial in others, but a powerful read, if I don’t say so myself 😉