Price War: A Chat with Richard Holliday
I sat down for a chat with Richard to discuss his new book, his writing and what's coming up for him in 2023.
What's your name and where do you come from?
Hello! My name is Richard Holliday and I am an author from the UK, namely residing in London.
You're in an elevator with the CEO of Waterstones. You've got roughly 30 seconds until they need to get out. Sell yourself and your writing. An elevator pitch, if you will.
In my thriller Price War, when the cost of doing business is blood, one man must save what’s left of his family from paying the price when a technologically advanced new company, Yellowstone, turns from convenience to necessity as more and more of people’s everyday lives are entrusted to it. Danny is left fighting a guerrilla campaign to save what remains of his family when they stand in the way of Yellowstone’s dominance. Will he be able to save everyone and stop Yellowstone’s tyrannical plan to take over the country?
So, you write thrillers. What is it about the genre that speaks to you?
I think what really hooks me with thrillers is to give the reader a pacy, enjoyable read – maybe not always memorable for literary merit but enjoyable, meaty stories – I’m a big fan of the Jack Reacher books as they’re enjoyable, suspenseful page-turners, and you pretty much know what you’re going to get but it’s always an enjoyable journey – a “literary packet of crisps”.
With techno-thrillers and blending thrillers with science fiction, there’s a wide open market for taking prescient topics in our contemporary and extrapolating them to an extreme that allows for a thrilling story that can also be thought-provoking.
Your upcoming novel, Price War, is about to hit the shelves. How are you feeling about it?
I’m excited! It’s been a bit of a journey as I have been very determined to up the quality of this book from my previous release Nightmare Tenant, and this involved a bit of a late-in-the-day existential crisis about some of the groundwork of my story, but I’ve had a wonderful editor and feedback team to help me out – I’m just excited to see what the reaction to Price War is!
Give us the lowdown - what's your novel about? No spoilers please.
Price War is a book about the importance of family, and what happens when you consider material things more important than that. Our protagonist, Danny, rejects the job of a lifetime because it asks him to do too much against his own flesh and blood; his friend Henry, however, is less able to resist that allure. It also explores a potential future for us all if we continue to entrust more and more of our lives to corporations – who is really running the show? I think it takes some prescient issues we know of today to a fun, fictional extreme that I think results in an engaging, and perhaps thought-provoking story. How can one man, or the underdog, fight back against these seemingly unstoppable machinations?
What inspired you to write Price War?
I’ve had the prologue to Price War in my mind’s eye for years – a serene street where looks are deceiving, with a Mad Max-style apocalyptic showdown between heavily-armed delivery vans – taking the idea of competition to a new level. This takes my point about extrapolating things we take for granted, perhaps, in our contemporary lives, to an extreme level that’s ripe for a story. On deciding to write Price War I feel I kept the spirit of that idea well and truly alive.
If you had to tell a new reader what Price War is similar to, what would you say?
Price War is inspired by the master of techno-thrillers, Michael Crichton, so if you enjoyed Crichton’s blend of pseudo-real technology, with hints of cyberpunk, looking at a future that may not be all that far away from where we are currently, and enjoyed books like The Warehouse by Rob Hart and The Passengers by John Marrs I think you’ll find something to enjoy here!
What's coming up for you in 2023?
Besides Price War I’m aiming to be working on the follow up to that book, while also starting work on another standalone thriller novella with a bit of a geeky twist!
If you had to read only one author for the rest of time, who would you choose?
As tempting as it would be to say James Herbert, I will resist! I’d go with Michael Crichton who I am a big fan of – he’s written what I’d consider quintessential techno-thrillers that I really relate to – thrillers such as Jurassic Park, Timeline and Airframe which blend real science and an extrapolation of what this technology could do in such an accessible and believable way, but while still making for an edge-of-your-seat suspenseful read. He’s sorely missed.
You’re not new to this writing game. What one thing would you say, given your experience now, to the Richard of the past writing his first novel?
My advice to past me would be to embrace outlining. I’ve written books in the past without a clear outline and they’ve all crashed and burned, and will likely never see the light of day. I find that having at least a roadmap of where I want the story to go – even if that does change during the writing process, as it’s an organic process – helps me to write more coherently-plotted stories much more quickly, while ensuring the pace and story beats aren’t neglected.
What’s your most unpopular book-ish opinion?
Using profanity in the title – what’s with that? It doesn’t endear your book to me, nor will it do you any favours in marketing. Oh, and dog-earing or annotating paperbacks – as a collector as well as a reader of paperback books, this is an absolute no-no as I like to keep my paperbacks in as good a condition as possible. I even have some of those “library style” plastic covers, though those only fit books that are of the UK standard trim size of “B-format”. So I guess, don’t publish your paperbacks (in the UK at least) at any other sizes as I will find it annoying. There’s… three opinions in there?
What’s your earliest memory of reading a novel?
My earliest memory is 8-year-old me sitting in a pub garden on the Sussex coast reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that my nan had bought me. It was 1998 and Harry Potter fever had well and truly swept the nation – and the first book was out of stock in the local bookshop, so I had to start with book 2. My nan bought me those books every time a new one came out and I still treasure those editions, battered and well-enjoyed as they are.
Would you rather read the last page of every book first OR have to stop reading before you reach the end of the novel?
Ooh, I’d have to say, with regret, reading everything but the last page. Sometimes the journey can be better than the destination!
Would you rather have to reread only your favourite books OR only be able to read author debuts?
Tough question as I am trying to read less conservatively, in only going for “authors I like” and trying to take more punts on new books! But seeing some of the classic books on my shelf I have enjoyed multiple times I think I’ll have to stick to what I know!
The classic: you’re on a desert island. You were able to take only 3 books with you. What were they?
Only three? Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton; Misery by Stephen King and The Rats by James Herbert. Though if that last one’s not allowed, I’d definitely take Number 47 by Hannah Palmer!
Get your copy of Price War on Amazon now, and be sure to leave a review on both Amazon and Goodreads.