Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Romantic Thriller, A New Subgenre? by H. L. Wegley

As a political thriller writer, H. L. Wegley decided he needed to make sure his books were good reads for women. Today, he tells us how he went about it. -- Sandy

H. L.: 2016 was still a year away and the state of our nation deeply saddened me. The idea of writing a political thriller that exposed some of America's problems consumed me. But was I driven more by anger rather than pure motives? Yes, but I still wanted to write a book, because story has power. In addition, as authors we can illustrate the world’s brokenness, then we get to fix it … at least we can fix it inside our story world.

I tried to shove my anger aside and define my goals. To accomplish them, my book had to be a political thriller. There was no way around that. Many women tend to shy away from thrillers and many do not read politically oriented books. Strike two, before I even started!

What I needed to reach a mixed audience was a romantic thriller, but I feared this story would fall flat on its face unless it was equal parts romance and thriller. Furthermore, neither part could seem forced, or just an add-on, the two threads needed to be synergistic. How does a writer do that?

With a rough plot in mind, and two millennials playing the hero and heroine, I approached Susan May Warren at a writer’s conference and pitched my idea for Voice in the Wilderness. She loved the idea, especially the part where the two young people have a deep childhood friendship that grows into something much more. Our meeting also grew. It grew into coaching sessions, where she helped me splice the romance thread into the thriller plot so tightly that neither could exist without the other. And there it was … a true romantic thriller.

The key for me was to make the two threads, romance and political thriller plot, inseparable by the way the I defined the main characters. Giving the characters a common backstory was important for my book. And relationship must permeate the story. My hero and heroine were childhood soulmates, a relationship ripped apart by an overprotective father, a US Senator who thought the boy wasn’t good enough for his daughter after she became a teenager. I looked for ways to make the relationship between the two be both front and center and serve as a driving force even in the scenes having thriller-level intensity.

That’s the gist of what I did. I would reveal more details, but that would probably result in a big spoiler.

I'm a bit biased, but the resulting story was action-filled and breathtaking. Early reviews confirm that both men and women love the story and the characters. And the political, philosophical, and spiritual aspects and asides have caught and exposed several of the problems causing some of our current national crises.

This story has become a three-book series, being released across the election year, a series designed first to entertain, then to inform. Maybe it will also help to create a new official subgenre, the romantic thriller.

Have you ever sought the advice of a mentor author when writing your book? 


H. L. Wegley served as an Air Force Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life, he worked as a research scientist, publishing in the scientific literature, then developed Boeing computing systems for 20 years before retiring near Seattle. He is a multi-published author with a 4-book inspirational thriller series, 2 nonfiction books, and 4 more novels on the way.

Here's a video interview that gives some background into this new book:


  1. Harry, interesting information on how your managed to meld romance and mystery. Of course, nowadays one of the recognized divisions of fiction is romantic suspense, but thanks for whatever hand you had in getting us there. I appreciate your sharing.

    1. Thanks, Richard. I thought about writing a romantic suspense as I plotted this story, but it didn't follow the traditional plot line and the stakes were so very high that I left it as a thriller. That was Susan May Warren's recommendation, too.

  2. Harry, That's wonderful and I know I would have been thrilled to have Susan like my idea. Ill have to read this.

    1. Terri, I hope this is a proper thing to do -- I have a stack of ARC's of Voice in the Wilderness to give away to potential reviewers. These are the final version, except they don't include the endorsements. I'd be glad to send printed copies to as many interested readers as I can accommodate. Just let me know here or message H L Wegley on FB.

  3. I love romantic suspense but this thriller is calling me. I don't like secular thrillers because of the gore they usually contain, but I do love the chase to putting all the clues together. It's great that it's being released during an election year.

    1. Barbara, I've heard from quite a few women readers who shy away from a book when they hear the word thriller. Most have told me it's because of previously being surprised by graphic violence ... or worse. Once images are put into our minds, they remain to haunt, frighten, and upset us for life. I try give my readers a powerful, but proper, emotional response without painting graphic images of violence or sex, and without resorting to profanity.


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