“Treasure: Temple of the Crystal Skull” is a new novel by author Thomas Holladay which has just been released by Severed Press. A leading publisher of horror and science fiction, Severed Press is lauded internationally and ranked #1 for horror in 2014.
Thomas attended Arizona State University (ASU) where he studied architecture and he subsequently studied screenwriting at the American Film Institute. Aside from “Treasure: Temple of the Crystal Skull,” Thomas has also written three other novels: “Meadowlarks,” “Deliberate Justice,” and “Pursuit” as well as over a dozen feature length screenplays.
Thomas is an avid outdoorsman and sports enthusiast. He played football in high school and water polo in college and has sailed the Caribbean. He has also dabbled in mountain climbing, scuba diving, motorcycling, horseback riding, acting, modeling, and playing guitar. Thomas served in the Marine Corps and was then a lifeguard on Miami Beach. A jack of all trades, Thomas has worked as a firefighter, architect, contractor, and teacher. In fact, two of the custom residential properties he designed were published for architectural excellence. All of these experiences have helped him become a better storyteller.
Currently living in the Philippines with his wife, Wilma, and daughter, Michelle Trixie, Thomas also has an American pit bull terrier named Popeye and a cat named Tiffany. Through an exclusive interview, he recently discussed his debut book which centers on Major Michael Crooke. The character is on leave from his Marine Corps combat unit on a remote Caribbean island when he stumbles upon a plot to unearth a hidden treasure that might just be demonically cursed.
Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer and how did you break into the field?
Thomas Holladay (TH): Several years ago, while sailing the Caribbean, I met a man who convinced me to write screenplays. His ex wife was reportedly a huge casting director. With my original ideas and his contacts, we’d be making movies in no time. At his long-distance prompting, I walked away from my Florida corporation, Architecture & Construction, Inc. a human space corporation, and resigned from the fire department. When I arrived in California, I realized his promises were less than real. However, I’ve now penned more than a dozen original screenplays. During this time, I attended the prestigious American Film Institute. Many of my original ideas and movie moments have appeared in feature films and on television. After being ripped off and finding I could do nothing about it, I learned the craft of writing novels.
MM: You have such a varied background, so how did your life experiences influence your writing?
TH: I have led a life of adventure and have experiences I would never trade with anyone. Those experiences, the people I have met and targeted research feed my writing.
MM: How did you end up living in the Philippines?
TH: In California, I rebuilt my architecture and construction practice and invested heavily in the renovation and restoration of my Victorian home in Ventura. When the real estate market collapsed in 2006/2007 I lost everything and decided to move somewhere where I could afford to concentrate on my writing. I moved here in 2009, met my wife Wilma, we had a daughter, and have a solid marriage. We are looking to move to the U.S.A. in the near future.
MM: Why did you decide to base your novel, Treasure, in the Caribbean?
TH: I’ve sailed the Caribbean and it fit the story narrative. The people are cheerful and magnetic. It’s a great place to write about.
MM: Were any of the characters or people inspired by real life or fictional stories that had an impact on you?
TH: In 1622, Nuestro Senora de Atocha, a Spanish gallion laden with silver, gold and emeralds sank off the coast of the Florida Keys in a hurricane. Mel Fisher, an American salvor, searched for the sunken remains for many years. People died in the search, including one of Mel’s sons. A fire department friend, himself a renowned scuba diver, had worked for Mel off and on. His stories inspired Treasure and Captain Mark Brewster’s character. I wrote the first few drafts of Treasure before Fisher found the wreckage site in 1985. He recovered cannon, silver, gold and emeralds, deemed the most valuable salvage find in history. He entered into a legal battle with the State of Florida which Fisher won. Much of the most valuable cargo is still lost, that which would have been stored in the captain’s cabin.
MM: How long did it take to complete the book and how did you find the publisher?
TH: The first draft of the script was in 1980. The first draft of the novel was in 2006. It is impossible to count the number of drafts for either. Treasure sold to Samhain Publishing in 2015 but was never published. Samhain went out of business that same year. I had an agent for a couple of years but that didn’t work out. I started submitting again in November, 2019 and signed contracts with Severed Press in January, 2020.
MM: What has been the best thing about being a published author?
TH: I have a passion for writing, from the first draft of Treasure through the completion of my 4th novel. I am currently writing my 5th. Knowing others will be reading my work is the prize for all my work over so many years. My architecture had already been published twice. Now I’m a traditionally published author. WOW!
MM: What might the plot of your next book entail and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
TH: I guess I should do a rundown:
Meadowlarks, horror/suspense/thriller – A young widow and her son flee the dangers of urban life only to find an ancient evil lurking in the forest surrounding their new mountain home. Completed. Meadowlarks also sold to Samhain Publishing but was never published. It then sold to Imajin Books but the publisher got sick and returned rights. In submission.
Deliberate Justice, historical political thriller – In 1855, Count Mikhail Diebitsch-Zabalkansky, a Russian noble, escapes the tyranny of Czarist Russia and lands in San Francisco, where historic characters and events teach him that truth and justice are more important than position and wealth. Completed. In submission.
Pursuit, historical crime thriller – sequel to Deliberate Justice – following the Civil War, a Confederate officer returns home to find his wife murdered and his daughter kidnapped. He follows their trail to San Francisco where he joins forces with Count Mike (Count Mikhail Diebitsch-Zabalkansky) to fend off vengeful Russian nobility and find his daughter. Completed. In submission.
My Uncle Jack, creative non-fiction – Dr. John Scott Holladay, my Uncle Jack, is a Presbyterian missionary in Thailand (Siam) for 13 years before WWII. He, his pregnant wife and their 11-year-old son flee across the mountains and down the Burma Trail to Rangoon. Their daughter is born aboard ship returning to America. Back in the ministry in Illinois, he is called upon by the OSS (CIA), trained and parachuted back into Thailand to organize resistance to the Japanese. Awarded the Bronze Star. Back in the ministry in Cairo, IL, he takes on organized crime. He dies in a mysterious car accident in Missouri. In first draft.
Coming to Terms, historical medical thriller — A renegade CIA agent uncovers a global conspiracy to control population through the employment of bio-specific warfare. This stuff started well before the Wuhan Virus.
You can learn more about Thomas and his online presence by visiting his official website: www.thomasholladay.com.
His book can be purchased via Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0841SBGVB/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=severed+press&qid=1579559763&s=digital-text&sr=1-2
Twitter is @ThomasHolladay.