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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Author Interview - H.L. Wegley

Anne: Good morning, Harry. It's a delight to have you here with us today. I have to say I really enjoyed Hide and Seek. What inspired this story?

H.L.: Before retiring from the information technology industry, I saw several incidents that might make a good thriller. In addition to my job experience, I saved news articles and technical information for about five years in case I ever wanted to write a book.

In 2009 I wrote and self-published my childhood stories, Colby and Me: Growing up in the ‘50s. It was done only for family and friends, but it was such an enjoyable project that I decided to write a novel. When I plugged the work incidents into the context of cyber-espionage, Hide and Seek was born..

Anne: A lot of people have no idea how much research can go into a book. How did you do your research for Hide and Seek?

H.L.: Most of my research came from my career experience: seven years in the US Air Force where I worked for a couple of years with NSA, a dozen years as a research scientist, and twenty-one years working for a defense contractor where I developed computing systems. I did have to research some terrorist organizations, unclassified intelligence reports, and current events in several countries. For the spiritual arc of the characters, my large Christian apologetics library was helpful.

Anne: I've always thought Christians shouldn't apologize... (Put that book down and do not hit me. I'm a little ol' lady with glasses...) Were there any obstacles that felt insurmountable at times?

H.L.: I wrote my first draft of Hide and Seek in less than a month, but then realized I didn’t know much about story structure. I took an advanced novel writing workshop and rewrote the story. It still had flaws. I wrestled with the story structure for a year. But after joining the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and submitting nearly half the story to their critique group, I finally felt confident enough to polish my manuscript and submit it to an acquisitions editor at a writing conference. Deep inside I wondered this story would ever become a publishable book. The editor saw something she liked in the story, and I was offered a contract. My advice to beginning novelists is to learn some basics before getting too deep into your first novel. It can save you a lot of rewrites.

Anne: (I'm in scribes, too, by the way) Actually, even if you know the basics, there still are a lot of rewrites. What did you enjoy the most?

H.L.: Most of the first draft of Hide and Seek was written in seven days sitting on the shores of Lake Havasu in 100-degree weather while I sipped on iced coffee. To me, sitting in a warm, sunny spot with a few pencils and staring at a blank page in a spiral notebook while a story plays in my mind is the most enjoyable part of writing. I love to fill the blank space on a page.

Anne: Did you enter into critiques with other authors?

In the advanced novel workshop I mentioned the instructor critiqued the first 50 thousand words of our manuscripts. I mentioned the ACFW critique group. They critiqued about half of the rewrite, helping me complete the third version, the one that eventually was published. Shortly after starting my second story I linked up with some local authors at the Oregon Christian Writer’s summer conference. We formed a critique group.

My second and third book contracts came largely from following my critique group’s suggestions. I value my test readers because they can give me a thumbs up or down on what I’ve written. But my critique group can help me fix a thumbs down before it ever gets to a test reader.

Anne: Would you like to tell us a little about your next book?

Hide and Seek is the first book in what will be the four-book Pure Genius Series. Book 2, On the Pineapple Express, is being edited by my Pelican Book Group editor. It tells a story about human trafficking and is set largely on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula.

The third book, Moon over Maalaea Bay, is set entirely on Maui. It’s about—well, here’s the tagline “They left for the Maui honeymoon of their dreams, oblivious to the coming nightmare.”

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog for this interview, Anne! It’s help from people like you that gives newbies a chance for people to see our work.

Anne: Wow--the perfect excuse for a research trip! I love Hawaii. It was my privilege to connect with you and read your book, Harry. As for the future books? I foresee a bright future for you.

READERS: If you would like to read the book review, click HERE.

And here's a short bio for H. L. (Harry) Wegley, just in case you're interested:
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an intelligence analyst and a weather officer. He is a meteorologist who worked as a research scientist in atmospheric physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories. After earning an MS in computer science, he worked more than two decades as a systems programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 46 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he pursues his love of writing.
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