Today’s guest is the author of On the Pineapple Express, H. L. Wegley. H. L. served in the US Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who, while working as a forecaster and a research scientist in Atmospheric Physics, published extensively in the scientific literature. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their grandchildren, hiking beaches on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever he gets a chance, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. Besides his scientific publications, he published one non-fiction work, Colby and Me: Growing up in the ’50s, a humorous collection of the childhood adventures of an early baby boomer.
Welcome to Inner Source, H.L. You’ve taken on a very heavy subject with On the Pineapple Express. Would you mind sharing with the reafer how this issue came to light for you and why you felt led to write about it?
About three years ago, while I was planning a second novel in the Pure Genius Series, a neighbor asked us to attend a human trafficking awareness meeting. Dr. Cyndi Romine, who has rescued women all around the globe from sex trafficking, spoke to us. Also present were local law enforcement and local government agencies tasked with stopping human trafficking. The statistics we heard horrified us. The county we live in is one of the worst places in the nation for child prostitution. When we learned that children were being lured from street corners in our neighborhood, from food courts in local malls, anywhere kids gather, I wanted to do something. Using my hero and heroine from Hide and Seek, the first book in the series, I plotted a story about the rescue of a group of girls from an international human trafficking syndicate.
The hero in On the Pineapple Express is a meteorologist. Is this field something in your expertise? And in a related question, is there really such a force as The Pineapple Express?
Yes, Lee Brandt, the hero, is a meteorologist. Actually, I gave Lee a shortened version of my own resume. I have been a weather officer in the Air Force, a weather forecaster, and a research scientist in atmospheric physics. Later, I jumped ship and went into computer science work. So did Lee. But I’m digressing. You asked about the Pineapple Express. When the jet stream dips down near the Hawaiian Islands and then flows northeastward to the Pacific Northwest, it pumps a lot of moisture from the tropics our way and often creates torrential rains and flooding in WesternWashingtonState. That’s the Pineapple Express. Straight from Hawaii. For my story, I added another variation to the weather situation. I re-created the meteorological conditions that spawned the 1962, Columbus Day Storm, the strongest wind storm ever to hit the West Coast of the United States. Why have one weather danger when you can have two? ☺
I can’t imagine the materials that must have been researched on the subject of human trafficking. What can you tell us about this worldwide plague of humanity?
On the Pineapple Express required a lot of research into human trafficking, which is mostly sex trafficking. Unlike the research for most of my novels, this research was not pleasant. It took me into dark places that I do not wish to revisit. I don’t mind dealing with dark subjects in my stories, but I try to do it in a way that is not overly graphic, always presents hope, and where good and justice eventually prevail. In our fallen world, in this age, that is not always the case. In one area of our state 3,000 girls disappeared in one year. You cannot derive accurate statistics from police records — too many missing children are listed as runaways, so they are not in the crime statistics. Trafficking of children is so profitable that organized crime, such as arms dealers and drug cartels, are incorporating it into their operations. This crime is pandemic in our world and has become epidemic in our nation, reaching even into the smaller communities. Worldwide, it is estimated that 2 million children are victims. All children are potential targets of traffickers, but especially young girls. The average age of girls entering into prostitution used to be 13, but it is now nearer to 12 and steadily dropping. For every 18-year-old, how many much, much younger children are needed to produce that average? You can do the math and it paints an ugly picture. On the brighter side, awareness is growing, and people who want to get involved can usually find a local organization that fights labor trafficking, sex trafficking, and other sorts of slavery.
When writing, sometimes the Lord will place a truth on our hearts about a certain subject. Did God do that with you during your work on this novel? If so, would you mind sharing that with us?
The relationships between fear, courage and doing God’s will came up many times as I wrote this story. My heroine had to face her worst fear in several scenes and she placed her life on the line for people she didn’t even know. God’s word says more than 400 times, “Do not be afraid.” But I don’t believe He is talking about a complete absence of fear, rather it’s the paralyzing fear that causes us to fail because we won’t even try. When we are willing to obey despite our fear, He provides the courage we need. That’s a subject I would like to talk about a little more in Friday’s blog post.
Do you have any future projects in the works, and if so, what issues do your characters deal with?
I have 5 future projects, all romantic thrillers, in various stages of completion, ranging from a completed first draft to a couple of novels awaiting scheduled release dates. We ended the previous subject with a few words about winning battles and learning to trust God more. That’s the theme of Moon over Maalaea Bay, the next book in the series, a romantic thriller releasing June 13. This story has a team of 4 protagonists that learn about trusting God more when the international syndicate bent on revenge abducts the heroine in Maui a few hours after her wedding. I just finished proofing the galleys for the final book in the Pure Genius Series, Triple Threat, which should release this fall. In it a young woman seems to have it all, a PhD candidate with a genius-level IQ, beauty, incredible athletic ability, but scars from the foster care system drive her to keep trying to prove she’s worthy of love and acceptance. She takes too many chances … a deadly mistake when you’re exposing a three-pronged terrorist attack which, if successful, will dwarf 9-11.
Thank you, H.L., for making us aware of this horrible crime and for making people aware. I have six precious grandchildren, and until you mentioned it here, I didn’t think anything about them going to the mall’s food court. I know I’ll be much more careful in the future. You can catch up with H. L. at his website, his blog, on Facebook, Twitter, his Amazon Author Page, and on his Publisher’s Book Page.
More about On the Pineapple Express:
In one of the most beautiful places on earth the ugliest of crimes holds young, innocent lives in its evil grip. An intercepted cell-phone call from a remote area on the Olympic Peninsula tells beautiful, brilliant NSA researcher, Jennifer Akihara, a group of girls will soon be sold into slavery by human traffickers. She enlists her fiancé, Lee Brandt, to help find the holding location and convince the FBI to intervene. With the clock ticking off the last few hours before both the sale of the girls and the arrival of a deadly storm, and with international criminals pursuing them, can Jennifer and Lee save the girls, or will their wedding plans be cancelled … permanently?
Also available Hide and Seek:
A computer security breach within a US defense contractor’s firewalls leads investigators, Lee Brandt and beautiful, brilliant Jennifer Akihara, onto the cyber-turf of terrorists, where they are detected and targeted for elimination. Lee leads them on a desperate and prayer-filled flight for survival into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Will Jennifer’s pursuit of truth about the conspiracy, and the deepest issues of life, lead her into the clutches of terrorists, into the arms of Lee Brandt, or into the arms of the God she deems untrustworthy?
On Monday, Inner Source interviewed Jennifer Akihara.