Greetings from Kevin Thompson! If you are thinking of coming to Florida soon, you may wish to wait. We had snow in the panhandle a couple of weeks ago. We’ve had below freezing temperatures as recent as mid-January coupled with winds of over twenty miles an hour, and they are breaking out the swimming suits in the stores. Coats, jackets, mittens? You should have bought those in October when they were plentiful…and it was ninety degrees outside.
Welcome to winter, Florida-style.
Nevertheless, we’re here on the front porch, bundled up in layers of blankets, grasping a cup of hot coffee, watching our breath drift away in the wind.
Who wants to join me? Well, believe it or not, there is a hearty soul from the great northwest who is willing to brave these swampy wilds, huddle up in one of our Adirondack rocking chairs, and share with us some of his writing tales. Welcome to the Florida front porch, H.L. Wegley (we all know him as Harry)!
Welcome, Harry! And congratulations on your latest book, Chasing Freedom. Give us the back cover copy. Fifty words or less. Go!
When Allie Santiago’s father opposes a drug cartel, she’s also targeted. Disgraced Olympic decathlete, Jeff Jacobs, discovers Allie running through Southern Oregon mountains. Helping her starts a war, first with the cartel, then with Oregon’s immigration court, forcing Jeff to choose between regaining his Olympic honor and saving the Santiago’s.
What inspired you to write this book?
I watched a movie, based on true events, about the plight of many asylum seekers who have legitimate reasons for fleeing to America. Inequities in our system often leave these people lingering in the black hole known as asylum detention. And getting out depends upon one man’s or woman’s judgement.
Interesting. I suspect regions have different perspectives, too. Seattle is a very different “mind” from Orlando, for example. So, what surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
America has great immigration laws, but there is no equity in the way they are prosecuted and adjudicated, especially for asylum seekers, i.e. those begging for asylum because they are being persecuted. Bottom line, draw a bad judge at immigration court and you can languish indefinitely in asylum detention until you die of despair or you can be deported where you might be killed. But I understand the judges’ perspectives too. They’re the last door standing between someone who desperately wants to become an American or the last door standing between Americans and a terrorist coming to kill them. And the judge must discriminate between the two.
Yeah, that’s not good, is it? There’s got to be a better way to background check, decide, and complete the rest of the process. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
There are many takeaways, but one is that the questions holding people back from trusting God are seldom the great intellectual questions. They are the existential questions—the painful cries of a wounded heart—the questions that seem to go unanswered. The hero of my story illustrates an effective way we can use God’s word to help the wounded. Being able to show a person what God is like is often far more important than being able to expose flaws in an Atheist’s arguments, though that is necessary at times because, as C. S. Lewis said, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”
That’s why the early church fathers stood their ground like they did. Had not people like Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Athanasius, and the like, stood up to heresy, the church would look a lot different than it does today (although I know God would have sent someone to stand in the gap if they failed). So that brings us to the next question: How does H.L. Wegley share Christ in his writing?
I studied Christian apologetics for nearly ten years expecting to write a book or develop course material for a small group or for a Sunday School class. That never happened. But what I studied finds its way into my stories as my characters interact, demonstrating Christ-like behavior and providing answers to questions that seekers ask. In doing that, I try to keep in mind Ravi Zacharias’s view of apologetics. “Apologetics is not the substance of what we do; it is the means through which we give the substance of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And I try to do that in the spirit of 1st Peter 3:15: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
In other words, be a witness to what you have seen and heard (Acts 1). Awesome. If you had your choice, what would be your ideal writing place?
My favorite writing place is a warm, sunny beach. In that setting, my writing productivity is ten times what it is during the gray, gloomy Seattle winters. So, why do I live near Seattle? That’s easy. Grandkids.
And…what’s your actual writing place like?
My actual writing place—it’s sitting in front of my office window, on the second floor of our townhouse, looking out at that gray, gloomy Seattle sky. If I could open my office window and crank my neck out a few feet, on sunny days I would have a beautiful view of Mount Rainier. Maybe I should pull the side mirror off my truck and stick it on the house by my window.
Why do you love writing?
A writer gets to experience life, vicariously, through his or her characters. And, as authors, we get to choose where we go, whom we go with, and what we do. Whether one considers themselves rich or poor, beautiful, handsome, or plain, it makes no difference. The ground is even for us all at the blank page of an author’s notebook. That’s why I love filling up those blank pages.
What ministries are you involved in, and why?
My wife and I have been involved in small-group ministry through our church for over 25 years. Jesus’s life and words tell us that Christianity was never meant to be lived in isolation, rather in community. In mid-sized churches, or larger ones, the sense of community and its benefits are often lost. Small groups are a way to regain many of those benefits, keeping us accountable, growing, and ministering to others.
What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
I am retired now. But I have a degree in Meteorology from Texas A&M and I worked in the Atmospheric Physics Department of a national lab for a number of years. Want a scientifically informed opinion on climate change? We won’t get into that here, but I have been known to make custom forecasts for people’s vacations—well, if they promise not to sue me if my forecast busts. I also have an advanced degree in Computer Science and developed computing systems for Boeing for over two decades before retiring.
I have a friend who graduated from Aggie-land. And I’m a Gator fan, so we always have something to talk about when it comes to sports. This year, it wasn’t pleasant…oh, well. You already told us about your day job, but do you have a “day job” still? I know you mentioned you worked in an Atmospheric Physics Dept. lab at one point in your life. Does/Did it influence what or how you write?
My wife and I retired eight years ago. But both my meteorological and computer science backgrounds, mentioned earlier, have heavily influenced my stories. The heroes/heroines of four books were meteorologists and four heroines were computer scientists. In one of my books, a catastrophic storm became an antagonist. In the military I served for a while as an intelligence analyst, working closely with NSA. That experience gave me a lot of story fodder.
Harry, tell us about your next project.
In Virtuality, my high-tech thriller with romance, two twenty-somethings with a checkered relational history are given control of a new technology that’s more addictive than the strongest street drugs and, if unleashed on American society, will likely destroy it. Those aware of the technology will kill to steal it. Can the young couple reconcile their broken relationship, while thwarting attempts on their lives, and convince Congress to act to prevent commercialization of the technology?
This isn’t a story about smart phones, is it? Just kidding. When I read that blurb, I thought, “Hey, that’s exactly what smart phones are doing…” It sounds very interesting. I know some of our readers will be on the lookout for that one.
Mr. H.L, it’s been a pleasure. Now, go inside, stand by the air vent, and get warmed up.
For more on Harry and his writing, don’t forget to stop by Harry’s website and Harry’s blog to get the latest news!
Thanks for stopping by today.
Until next time, may God bless you all, and may you all bless God!
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