H. L. Wegley served in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence analyst and a weather officer. In civilian life, he worked as a research scientist, then developed Boeing computing systems before retiring near Seattle with his wife of 50 years, where he has published seven novels and has more on the way.
What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense?
H.L.: My romantic suspense stories are high-stakes, high-action with near thriller-level intensity. The most difficult aspect of writing these stories is splicing in a romance that fits naturally into the thriller plot. The only way I’ve found to make this work is to integrate the romance into the thriller-level plot such that one could not exist without the other. If the romance dominates the thriller plot, or vice versa, the story can lose believability. It’s a tightrope that can only be walked by careful plot and character construction. Susan May Warren helped me do this integration for Voice in the Wilderness and I think it turned out well.
What is your favorite spot for reading or reflecting on your current work-in-progress?
H.L.: My favorite place to write, or do anything creative, is in the warm sunshine. Add some pink noise, like on an ocean beach in Maui, and my writing productivity goes up by a factor of 10. I wrote my first draft of my first novel in seven days while sitting on the shore of Lake Havasu drinking iced lattes. During the gloomy Seattle winters, I shine a grow light on my work area—just one light, don’t want any raids on my house!—and I drink a lot of coffee.
How do you pick the location/setting of your romantic suspense novels?
H.L.: For me, loving a location and knowing it well are my primary criteria for selecting a story setting. My thinking is that if an author loves a place—e.g. Crooked River Ranch in Central Oregon, a place I love—it adds more passion to the writing. Knowing the place well helps remove fear of misrepresentation, and that frees one’s creativity, enhancing the vividness of story world description. Remember, readers local to the setting don’t take kindly to writers messing up their home town and local scenery.
Something else I sometimes do when selecting the setting—for example, using the Deschutes River for a battle scene in Voice in the Wilderness—is to choose a beautiful setting to contrast with the ugly deeds done there. Bad seems even more evil when it happens in one of the most beautiful places in creation. And good seems even better in a beautiful setting.
Current book: Voice in the Wilderness
A political thriller with romance about an American president plotting tyranny and the young couple who risk their lives to stop him.