Welcome to Christian Book Review Blog! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
You’re welcome! I may as well start at the beginning. Born in 1946, I’m a first-year baby boomer and grew up in what was probably the best time in America to be a kid. In the great outdoors of Southern Oregon I enjoyed all sorts of outdoor adventures — hiking, exploring, camping, swimming and fishing the streams and lakes. I married a girl I’ve known since we were about 3 years old and we’re approaching our 48th anniversary. The Viet Nam war sent me into the Air Force, where I served as an intelligence analyst working closely with NSA. Then the USAF wanted more weather officers, so they sent me to Texas A&M, where I got a degree in Meteorology as well as a commission—what a deal! When the war wound down, I went to work as a research scientist at a national lab, then got an advanced degree in Computer Science and developed computing systems for Boeing until my wife and I retired in 2008. Now, we live near Seattle, lead a small-group Bible study, spend time with our 7 grandkids, hike the Olympic Peninsula beaches when the sun shines, and save our pennies for occasional trips to our most favorite spot on the planet, the setting of my current release, Maui.
When did you first discover that you loved writing?
In elementary school I learned that teachers would give extra credit for writing essays, poems, or stories. I was always conscious of my GPA but, being a bit lazy, I wanted to maintain a high GPA with the least amount of studying. Writing came easy for me, and that made the A’s come a lot easier. Over the years I’ve written a wide variety of material both for school and in my professional work as a research scientist. But it wasn’t until I wrote my first work of fiction, in 2010, that writing became a real joy, something that I could no longer not do.
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
Growing up, my best buddy’s dad had the full set of Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan books and all of Zane Grey’s westerns. I had most of the Robert Louis Stevenson novels. As tweens and early teens, my buddy and I read them all. Action adventures won my heart as a kid. I didn’t even mind the romance of Zane Grey’s stories or the somewhat romantic Tarzan-Jane relationship. When I crafted my first novel, it was—what else—a romantic thriller. I’ve now written 7 of them. I recently completed one manuscript that falls canonically within the Christian romantic-suspense genre. But when you compare my story to one of the masters of that genre, someone like Irene Hannon, you will see one big difference, the amount and intensity of action. If that were the only difference you saw, I could say I’ve arrived.
What do the ladies think about all that action? I’m about to find out. Several agents have requested book proposals for this story.
What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?
I’ve experienced many obstacles since I began writing novels, but I smashed my face into the first one when I wrote my first kiss scene. I’m a natural-born introvert and tend to keep personal feelings to myself, just like my dad. Now I had to show what my hero was thinking and feeling as the heroine initiated a kiss. After writing the scene, I didn’t want anybody to see it, partly because I had patterned the hero after me and had given him my resume and interests. This was far too personal for me to share. But, as authors we share ourselves with the world. We must voluntarily expose ourselves to criticism, ridicule, and all sorts of other unpleasant scrutiny. It took a while to become “hardened” to all that. A critique group, composed of people you trust helps. But, as our writing improves, the praise more than compensates for the negatives—well, maybe for all but those rejection notices.
Has writing changed your life in any way?
I have come to appreciate the power of story more than ever before. Now I can better understand why Jesus relied so heavily on stories to teach his disciples. That places more responsibility on my shoulders to make sure my stories convey truth in a powerful, but winsome way. Another way writing changed my life is it has made me less of an introvert. After exposing yourself mentally and emotionally to an audience of thousands, you tend to be a little less self-conscious.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
The redemptive passages have an impact that is eternal—e.g. the John 3:16s of the Bible and the Romans 6:23s. But, besides those, I would say 1 Peter 3:15 has had a big impact. This verse tells us we must, at all times, be ready to defend our faith and then prescribes how we are to do that, in gentleness and with respect. As somewhat of a self-taught apologist, I’ve tried to incorporate the principles of that verse into my stories. If it’s written with a 1 Peter 3:15 spirit, a redemption story, or a discussion about beliefs, will seem natural to the reader, whether they are a Christian or not.
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
I have a shelf for books that have something special about them, books that I don’t want to give up, except to loan them, temporarily. To answer this question, I scanned my special-book shelf and immediately settled on Randy Alcorn’s Safely Home. Not only is the book well-written, but it has a message the church in America needs to hear. After reading it, my wife and I both asked the same question while sitting in a church service one Sunday morning. If everyone present knew it was possible that we would be killed that very morning for attending and practicing our faith, how many people would we see sitting in the church service? Half as many? A third? Less? Would we still be there? It’s a very convicting question for a very moving and convicting book.
What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
My best buddy and I did so many quirky things that I documented and self-published them in a book, Colby and Me: Growing up in the 50’s, written for family, friends and grandkids. I never marketed it, just gave it away. The quirkiest thing we ever did was supposed to be in a chapter of that book, but somehow the chapter got omitted—my fault—and didn’t make the published version. We built a diving suit out of a 5-gallon bucket, an old refrigerator compressor, a lawn mower engine, and a long garden hose. My buddy was supposed to wade slowly into the 20-foot-deep pool below a dam to test the helmet but, instead, he jumped from the top of the dam into the deep water with 50 pounds of lead strapped around his waist. I dove in and swam down to the bottom of the river to see how he was doing. When I looked in through the Plexiglas faceplate, I saw 2 wide eyes and a water level inside the bucket about 3 inches above his nose. He couldn’t breathe no matter how he turned his head. The weights wouldn’t come off and he nearly drowned. But what nearly killed him probably saved his life. We learned later that what comes out of that refrigerator compressor is highly toxic. He never got the chance to breathe any of it.
Please tell us about the featured book.
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Moon over Maalaea Bay, book # 3 in my Pure Genius Series, is a short, fast-paced romantic thriller set entirely in Maui. Originally, I had intended for this story to end my series and so I wanted to give my H&H a Maui honeymoon, you know, to make up for all I had done to them in books 1 & 2. But I write thrillers. How do you turn a tame, tropical paradise like Maui into the setting of a hair-raising story? Only 2 ideas came to mind. I could have the heroine eaten by a tiger shark or have her abducted early in the evening of her wedding night. I couldn’t come up with a happily-ever-after ending for the tiger-shark scenario, so I sicced the shark on one of the villains and chose to kidnap my bright (IQ 200), beautiful heroine, Jennifer.
Jennifer’s abductors, members of an international trafficking syndicate, want revenge for the arm of the organization Jennifer amputated in the previous story. They plan to sell her to a middle-Eastern prince who collects beautiful women, sending a clear message to anyone who interferes with their business. But agents from a terrorist nation enter the auction with a higher bid. They want Jennifer, who’s also an NSA scientist, for what she knows, not for what she looks like. Jennifer has now become a huge national security issue, bringing in the FBI, part of the military, and all the resources of the Maui Police Department.
All of this makes my hero, Lee (the groom), go a little crazy. He’ll do anything, except risk the life of their foster daughter, Katie, to get his bride back, and he’s starting his own search. Now that Lee’s crazy with worry, we have all the ingredients for a wild and woolly story—all but one. When Granddad flies over from the mainland bringing Katie to help Lee search for Jennifer, beautiful 15-year-old Katie ends up in the crosshairs of the traffickers. What if Lee has to choose between saving Jennifer or Katie?
Can you please give us the first page?
In light of recent events, she should be dead. Jennifer Akihara should no longer exist.
And now she doesn’t.
The thought brought a smile to her lips.
Nearly nine hours ago, in another world three thousand miles away, Jennifer Akihara became Mrs. Lee Brandt. “Jennifer Brandt,” she whispered. It sounded right. It was right. And the dangers that nearly prevented her from taking Lee’s name were gone, either locked away in a federal prison or dead.
Spending her wedding night with Lee in a tropical paradise would be the perfect start to their life as man and wife. But the perfect start had been delayed.
In the fading twilight, under a purple sky, Jennifer glanced up at Lee’s brilliant, blue eyes as he walked beside her in his cargo shorts and muscle shirt, looking— she hated clichés, but there was simply no other word for him— hot. Tonight, on this island, extremely hot. And the warm, humid trade winds, which caressed her skin and ruffled Lee’s hair, cooled nothing.
Lee seemed unusually quiet. Maybe he was disappointed about their room not being ready.
She moved close to him, gently brushing against his side with each step as they strolled through the menagerie of colorful Kihei shops. The fragrance of pineapple, mango, and coconut mingled with those of cloves and cinnamon near the kiosks selling soaps, candles, and lotions.
She looked up at him, wondering what was on his mind. It was time to probe. “If someone hadn’t broken into our room just before we arrived, right now we would be—”
“We’d be watching the moon over Maalaea Bay out that big window. I know.”
“If someone hadn’t insisted on that room, maybe we could’ve gotten another room, and we could be—”
“I know, sweetheart. But when you see the sunset from our room tomorrow evening, you’ll understand. That room is special. We can eat dinner here at the shops, and by 7: 30 our room door will be fixed and the electronics that were stolen will all be replaced, just like the manager promised. And… we get a free night for our inconvenience.”
“Inconvenience? That’s hardly the word for what I feel.” She met his gaze with love and longing in her eyes.
Where can readers learn more information about you?
My author web site has a fun bio for readers: http://hlwegley.com/bio.html
and the main page has info on my published and soon-to-release books:
My Facebook personal profile has a lot of spectacular Maui photos that I took from the setting of the Moon over Maalaea Bay:
My Facebook author page focuses more on my writing in general:
All of my published books can be seen on my Amazon Author Page:
Readers can get a heads-up on work in progress from Pinterest:
And they can catch my tweets at:
Thank you again for being with us, Harry! It was fun interviewing you.
(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!)
Harry has generously offered to giveaway a signed copy of Moon over Maalaea Bay! Print giveaway is available to U.S residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday June 21, 2014 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!