Meltdown, Task Force Valor Series #3Meltdown, Task Force Valor Series #3
Chuck Holton
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The global war on terror has reached catastrophic proportions, leading the U.S. Special Operations EOD team-Task Force Valor-to Chernobyl, where ghosts of past disasters are nothing compared to the nuclear nightmare about to unfold.

With CIA Agent Mary "Phoenix" Walker heading her first Special Ops mission and Master Sergeant Bobby Sweeney fighting demons on and off the battlefield, Task Force Valor races to stop a terrorist threat in the Ukraine before Europe is turned into a radioactive wasteland.

But when the terror reaches American shores, the team is powerless to help until they can save themselves. And when they finally track down the source of the chaos, what they find is worse than anything they could have imagined.

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 Our Interview with Chuck Holton

What is your favorite Bible verse?

That's a tough one.  I like 1 Peter 1:13 a lot, and 2 Timothy 1:7

What inspired the concept for the Task Force Valor Series?

I read a book about the true-life story of seven men who escaped from a soviet work camp in Siberia during WWII and walked 4,000 miles to safety.  Somehow, that led to this story.  :)

Is any part of Task Force Valor Series factual?

ITEB (our liquid explosive) really exists, and all of the places I write about are factual, and I've visited each of them myself.  I did my best to make every aspect of the book as true-to-life as possible.

How closely is Task Force Valor Series based on your life experiences?

I added a lot of my own experience to the scenes in the book - or those of people I know.  Not in the plot points, but more in the small things, like (in book 2) the prop falling off the boat at sea.  That really happened to me once.

How did you choose the location for the setting?

I got the idea about using Chernobyl after reading a blog by a woman who had explored its ghost towns.  And the location is someplace most people would never go that is dangerous, mysterious, and has an interesting history.  It also worked with the plot.

How long did Meltdown take you to complete?

Longer than it should have.  :)

What is the symbolism for the title Meltdown?


It's the end of the series, and everything goes wrong.  Plus, the venues in the book lend themselves to the double- or triple-entendre of the title.

Do you have a favorite character in Meltdown? Why?

I actually like the villager in the dead zone - he is kind of crazy and so was a lot of fun to write.

How much research did Meltdown take?

Well, it took 8 days in Ukraine and several months of research.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Meltdown?

That the security around Chernobyl is so bad that people have gone into the dead zone and removed almost everything of value from a town of over 50,000 people - and then sold the radioactive loot in cities across the country.  Yikes.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

  Deadlines.  :)  Also, it's hard for me to write from a female perspective because, well, I'm not female.  But I have friends who help tremendously in that regard.  Like, "did you REALLY think that scene would make women feel sorry for your male protagonist?  Are you kidding?"

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Research. (That's code for traveling around the world having adventures.)  The writing is a convenient excuse to travel.


What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in between?)

I've tried several styles, and someday hope to find one that works for me.  I'm like the fat guy who keeps trying different diets with varying degrees of success.  If they ever come out with a cure for procrastination, I'll be first in line.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

 YES!  I'm often surprised by something my character does.  I know that's strange, but it happens.  When I'm truly in the "zone" writing a novel, it's more like watching a movie in my head and taking notes.

How many books will be in this series?

Meltdown is the last of three.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?

I'm working with Oliver North on a series of books honoring our troops, and working on a new non-fiction project aimed at men.

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

 Randy Alcorn has been a huge mentor and encouragement for me.


What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?

  • Attend a writer's conference.
  • Read lots of good fiction.
  • Do your best to have lots of adventures - you build the experience for writing a good book by having lots of experience. 
  • Go outside your comfort zone and visit a bad neighborhood at night, go to a 3rd world country, have some of the kinds of experiences you want your characters to have.  If you've never been in an exciting (read: potentially life-threatening) situation, it'll be hard for you to convincingly put your characters in one.
  • Write a lot. 
  • Write anything and everything that comes to mind. 
  • Become a compulsive writer.
  • What message would you like your readers to take from Meltdown?

    People's image of God is often tainted by people or events in their lives.  I would hope that people will come away from Meltdown encouraged to step out of their cultural perceptions and understand more about God's love for them.  I'd also hope that, in the end, the reader will find themselves identifying with the failings of some of the characters, and see the danger in a worldview that espouses subjective morality.

    What is your greatest achievement?

    Talking my wife into marrying me.  Proof of my skills as a salesman.

    What is your goal or mission as a writer?

    My goal?  To yank people out of the fire.   My mission?  To pursue the purpose for which I was created, and hopefully not embarass my Lord too terribly along the way.

    What do you do to get away from it all?

    Lately, being home is like a vacation for me.  We have a huge wilderness behind our property, and I love to walk through the mountains alone while I write.  I say that because my writing usually happens when I'm not sitting at the computer - then I rush home and record my thoughts before they go away.