The Rathmore Chaos: An interview with Adam Holt

About a year ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing an old friend, Adam Holt, about his book, The Conspiracy Game. In just a few weeks, the second book in the Tully Harper trilogy, The Rathmore Chaos, will be available! Once again, I got to interview Adam and ask him some deep questions about Tully Harper, his journey to save his friend, and his exploration of outer space.  

If you'd like a signed first edition, check out Adam's Kickstarter. He is an independent author, and he uses the crowd-funding website for his pre-release. Learn more here!


The second book in the Tully Harper series, The Rathmore Chaos, comes out March 15. When we left Tully at the end of The Conspiracy Game, he had lost one of his best friends. Can you tell us a little about where The Rathmore Chaos picks up?

Sure. Tully returns to Earth with a lot on his mind. He feels responsible for losing his friend in space. He also feels like a “holstered gun,” in his words: the Ascendant are planning to conquer the Earth, but Tully doesn’t dare to use his powers. He might cause another natural disaster. Fortunately, Sunjay is there to help him deal with the temptation. The story picks up with those two. They’re in hiding, pouring over star maps and looking for Tabitha’s location. The boys don’t have long to find her though. The Ascendant are closing in on them. 

When you set out to write The Rathmore Chaos, did you have an idea of where it would take you, and is that where you have ended up?

Yes. The Ascendant inhabit a very real place in our solar system. Actually, it’s my favorite moon in the solar system, and I chose it from the outset. Its geography lends itself to exploration and action/adventure. I’m certainly not the first sci-fi writer to go there, but NASA has done fabulous research on it the last few years. I wish I could say its name, but that would be a massive spoiler for readers. Tully would never forgive me. 

The backstory of the Ascendant, however, surprised me. I plan to write some of those stories in the coming years. 

In The Conspiracy Game, Tully's relationship with his father and his friends were central in his decision to sneak onto his father's spaceship. Towards the end of the book, a new relationship was emerging: his relationship with the Harper Device. What role does the Harper Device play in The Rathmore chaos? How critical is this relationship to Tully's future?

A great mentor can do so much with precious little time. Professor Dumbledore influenced Harry Potter, but in some of those books, the two of them hardly interact. So it is with Tully and the Harper Device — aka the Sacred. Tully revisits its advice often, but the Harper Device does not try to guide his every step. It “trusts” Tully and lets him act on his own. I think Tully’s dad does that pretty well, too.  

As readers, we have only glimpsed the Device’s power. It has a long and shrouded history. Tully will uncover some of that in The Rathmore Chaos. However, the Device is asleep, and Tully’s powers are therefore unpredictable at best. 

In The Conspiracy Game, Tully and the Harper Device have what I would call a monumental conversation. In my first interview with you, I asked you how your faith influenced your book. Can you comment on how faith influenced this conversation between Tully and the Harper Device?

Good question. There is an undercurrent of mythology and theology in both of these books. So this conversation takes place in a garden. The setting is symbolic. Gardens are sacred places. I had in mind the Garden of Eden and also the Garden of Gethsemane (where Jesus went to pray and was betrayed). So in this sacred place the Harper Device helps Tully process his experience. Once again, he does not tell Tully what to do. He gives him larger, eternal principles to apply to the choices in his life. I really like the phrase “Fight, but do not hate” as a guidepost. The phrase guides Tully, and it comes from my faith experience as a Christian. Jesus called His follower to a radical sort of love. He said, “Bless those who curse you.” That isn’t easy. It’s the kind of love and forgiveness that brings peace out of turmoil, but it demands a real risk of failure. Will Tully take that path, and if so, is it the right one at this time? He puzzles over that quite a bit, as do some of the Ascendant. Not all of them are as evil as the Lord Ascendant, who is their dictator.  As the Device explained to Tully, “They are more like you than you know.” 

What has the Harper Device taught you, as the author, as you've written it into creation and explored its power and knowledge?

If you can’t surprise yourself, you’ll never surprise your reader. Tully was never supposed to touch the Harper Device. He didn’t in my original outline. Then I put the two of them in a room and the rest is history. That scene still surprises me, and it’s fun to read again because I remember thinking, “Tully, why did you do that? That screws up all my plans! Now what’s going to happen?” As an author, I watched my character risked everything for curiosity. I have to do the same thing. 

Can you tell us a little about your writing over the past year? How has writing The Rathmore Chaos compared to writing the Conspiracy Game? 

It was harder in some ways. You will see why when you “descend upon the chaos,” as the Device says. It is one thing to launch a boy and his friends into space on a spacecraft. It is another to send them to an advanced civilization on a distant moon. I drew on mythology, space science, and physics to make it feel realistic and plausible. However, since it was my second novel, some things were easier. The Conspiracy Game was my “first, best effort,” but it drags in a few spots. Reader reviews helped me see that, so I knew how to pace this second book better. Their feedback also convinced me to write in more parts for Little Bacon. Everything is better with bacon, apparently. 

What’s next? 

The book tour. I’ll be doing readings, launch parties, and school visits in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and Nashville. Then it’s off to my next project, which is yet to be announced. 


"Tabitha was kidnapped in the Florida Everglades. That's what we told the world, but it was a lie. Now I must find her real kidnappers - the Ascendant - before they return for us all. To do that, I'm going to need a lot of help. And another spaceship. This time it's not for me. It's for the girl that I left behind."

Tully Harper's second trip into space takes him farther than any human on record. Once there, he discovers an alien world full of surprises. He also uncovers the origins of his visions and powers, which he will need in the age to come.