Anyone got a student going back to school soon? Have a relative in that boat? Do they have the same answers most people do? "I don't know." There's a school principal who posted a TikTok video where she was answering questions parents threw at her about reopening school. In a funny way, she simply said, "I don't know" to each question with differing tones of voice. It was a comedic way of expressing the answers one gives to "unprecedented times." How can anyone know all the answers to things they have never experienced before, right?
Therefore, in that spirit, as we take the first steps into school re-openings this fall, let us remember to pray for the health, safety, and welfare of all involved. And the sanity and patience of all involved as well. These next few weeks should prove interesting, to say the least.
Now, let's switch gears and welcome our next guest to the Author Behind the Story blog series, H. L. Wegley! His friends call him Harry. So, Harry, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is H. L. Wegley?
I served as a USAF Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life I performed research in atmospheric physics, then spent two decades developing computing systems for Boeing before retiring near Seattle, where my wife and I enjoy small-group ministry, grandchildren, and where I write Christian novels.
Seattle, eh? I'm sure our readers would like to know how safe you are up in that neck of the woods. Maybe you could elaborate in the comment section.
What educational background do you have?
My wife and I both graduated from Grants Pass High School in Southern Oregon. I attended Southern Oregon College, Oregon State, San Antonio College, then the USAF sent me to Texas A&M to get a degree in meteorology. Gig’em Aggies! Years later, I picked up an MS in Computer Science from Washington State, because they had a center for graduate studies where I worked, Pacific Northwest Labs on the Hanford Atomic Energy Reservation. Go Cougs!
I have a friend who is a staunch Aggie fan. He'll be glad to see the Gig 'em.
When the words aren’t flowing, what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Recently, I found out that I have a health issue that restricts me to a no-acid diet. Foods with a pH below about 6.5 are a no-no. If I want a sweet snack, I turn to Graham Crackers, because they have a neutral pH (7.0). But if I were free to choose, I would have a vanilla bean, soy latte with about 3 shots of espresso. Now that stimulates the writing!
My wife’s and my favorite vacation spots are warm, sunny beaches with warm ocean water for snorkeling. Many years ago, while doing research for the Federal Wind Energy Program, I wrote the Wind Energy Resource Atlas for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. I studied detailed maps and high-resolution photos of the islands and was sure my research would garner me a trip to the Virgin Islands. Sadly, it did not. A vacation to St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix is still on my bucket list.
Do you have a favorite line from a movie or book? If so, what is it and explain why it is special to you?
I like unexpected humor when it’s properly injected into a story. My favorite such line comes from the classic John Wayne movie The Searchers. A small group of Texas Rangers is hunkered down behind logs while a huge band of hostile Comanches races straight toward them to attack. Just before the shooting starts, old Mose Harper, who is a bit slow, launches a prayer. “For what we are about to receive, we thank thee, O Lord.”
Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?
From the spring of 2018 to late winter of 2019, I wrote and self-published 5 full-length novels. Book sales took off and I had reached my goal of supplementing our retirement income solely through my writing. As the summer of 2019 approached, I got sick, little by little. My condition deteriorated and everything the doctor did made my condition worse, until I wondered if I would survive.
Eventually, I knew I needed to change doctors, or I may not survive whatever was happening. That is no easy task once you are forced onto Medicare at age 65. But I found another doctor and also read material from other doctors provided online. I found that I was being treated wrongly for my condition. To know that much was a relief, but I also learned that I would have to go on a rigid diet, indefinitely. The diet and the new doctor helped me, and I recovered, though I still have a diet that restricts me to about 1% of foods that most people eat.
I tell that story because I thought after publishing 5 books in less than a year I was unstoppable. But I learned that I can write only if God allows me to write. After the illness, I found that I cannot concentrate for as long a time, so my writing rate has plummeted to less than half what it was. I think God was telling me He had more for me to do than to write 16 hours a day.
We writers can become a cloistered bunch, if we are not careful.
Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?
My favorite novel of those I’ve written is Voice in the Wilderness. I love the characters, and I love the
Another motivation was my great grandfather. He was killed by the Bolsheviks for refusing to give his crops to them, because his family needed them to survive. My grandfather then left Russia and brought his family to America. They kissed the ground on Ellis Island. Like my grandparents, I love this country and do not want to see it slide into tyranny. Voice in the Wilderness illustrates, through two young people, the courage it takes to stand up to a powerful, would-be tyrant.
Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them?
I’ve learned from negative reviews how to split them into two categories—those that have a legitimate criticism that I can learn from and those that come from people my story has “ticked off.” I’ve written several political thrillers, always framed in a Christian worldview. When reviewers finish the book, but nit pick it to death, unjustly, you know that either they didn’t like the politics, or they didn’t like the Christianity. How do I know this? The pattern is repeated too many times to ignore. Also, in some cases, I’ve been able to determine who reviewed a book, and I subsequently looked at their social media posts. Bingo! They lean the opposite direction politically, or they have a beef with Christians or their beliefs.
Everybody's a critic today. Literally.
As a writer, if you had one thing you would do over again, what would it be?
I drafted my first novel at the tender age of 63—cold turkey, no classes, no seminars—I just sat down and wrote it in a little over a week. Not until I had the manuscript critiqued did I realize how much about the craft of writing fiction I still needed to learn. I had a very demanding job for my last twenty years in the workforce. Regardless, if I had it to do over again, I would have started learning the craft at a much younger age, even if I wouldn’t have time to write much until I retired. It took me 7 years to reach the point where my books won awards and garnered significant sales. But it didn’t have to be that way if I had started earlier.
Tell us about what project you are currently working on.
My current project, Resisting, is book 2 in a self-published series about the geopolitical fragmentation of America in a de facto succession that occurs as the cold civil war we see now grows hot. This series presents my thoughts on what will happen to America if we cannot come together on constitutional
What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?
When I was 16, my buddy and I discovered an abandoned logging landing in the mountains. When the loggers left, they dumped almost a case of dynamite behind a log and left it. When we found it, the sticks were coming apart and the powder was smoking (that was the nitro). We scooped it all up in a large grocery bag and rode double on my motorcycle back to an old abandoned car about a mile from my buddy’s house. We scrounged up a blasting cap and some fuse. Packed a half-gallon milk carton full of old unstable dynamite, set it on the engine block, draped the fuse over the front fender, closed the hood, and lit the fuse. We did have a 5-foot thick pine log to get behind, about 30 feet from the car. We plugged our ears and hid behind the log. The explosion rattled windows in my buddy’s house and his parents had some questions for us. But the biggest mystery is what happened to the hood of that car. We found it a week later a quarter of a mile away. We also found out later, that it was a good thing we didn’t have a spill on my motorcycle as we rode home with ten pounds of wet, smoking dynamite wedged between us in a paper bag.
We asked for crazy, not insane. Wow. The whole "blown to kingdom come" could have been a real event for you both, right? Wow. And we worry kids today might slide down a hot metal slide in the summer and burn their little tushies...
Ahh, the good ole days.
So, this next question is a great segue. Why do you live where you live? Did you have to move because of the dynamite incident?
We live in the foothills of the Cascades about 17 miles from Seattle. It’s too populated here now, and we would like to move back to where my wife and I were raised in rural Southern Oregon, but we have 6 grandchildren in the local area. So we will be staying here for the foreseeable future.
Not teaching them about dynamite, we hope. :-)
When you look for a new home, what are the things that are important to you?
We recently moved and downsized. Our nearly 4,000 square foot house was waaaay to much for us to keep up with as we approached 70. We bought a townhouse less than half the size, but it took a few months to find the right one.
I wanted a quiet neighborhood and a room for an office for my writing and my library. My wife is much more perceptive than me. She can look at a house and see immediately what it would be like to live there and then give it a thumbs up or down.
I deferred to her, and we got a two car garage (almost impossible to find in a townhouse in our area), a large office big enough for both of us, a guest bedroom, and a large deck and patio that require minimum maintenance but provide a great place to entertain or relax during the summer months.
Harry, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?
Ten years before retiring, I started studying Christian apologetics with the intent of writing a book or class material for teaching Christian worldview. It seemed that many Christians I knew, of all ages, had no solid foundation for their faith. Sadly, they were easily confused or led away into false teachings or false religions and philosophies. By the time I felt somewhat qualified to start writing, the real professionals who had dedicated their lives to this area of study started cranking out books, class materials, videos, and they conducted seminars. I wouldn’t even contemplate competing with them.
So what about my ten years of study? C.S. Lewis once said, “Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under the cover of fiction without their knowing it.”
He’s right. So that’s what I do. But at some point, people need to know that the ideas are God’s, not mine, and that they are true.
Very well put. I've found that fiction, although it can convey spiritual truths, can also be taken the wrong way or just seen as a good allegory but not taken as seriously as it should be. Said all that to say this, don't discount the non-fiction writings you wanted to write. Write them, even if it's just for you, to formulate in your mind sound doctrine. That helps when we talk to people, write our stories, etc.
Readers, if you'd like to get to know more about Harry and his writing, you can find more information at these locations:
Amazon Author Page:
Harry, thanks for being a part of the ABTS series! We wish you the best!
Readers, until next time, stay safe, and may America bless God.