H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a writer and retired meteorologist. His debut novel, Eyewall, which one reviewer called a “perfect summer read,” was released in May 2011 and went on to become a best-seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store.
His second novel, Plague, came out in September 2012.
He’s currently at work on his third novel, Supercell.
Before retiring, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel in Atlanta, Georgia, as a senior meteorologist for 13 years. Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades. He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit.
His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135).
In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, and served two tours in Vietnam. Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.
He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing.
He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes overactive Shih-Tzu, Stormy.
Deep in the secret recesses of a Cold War lab, the Russians created tons of deadly bio-weapons. Now, decades later, a protege of that Russian research is about to release weaponized Ebola into the heart of the South’s most iconic city: Atlanta, where the symbols of American “decadence” range from a happily diverse population to the Coca-Cola museum and CNN headquarters.
A preliminary test of the horrifying virus demonstrates the unspeakable suffering of its victims–and alerts the Centers for Disease Control that a terrible pandemic is in the making. CDC Virologist Dr. Dwight Butler begins a frantic effort to track down the source of the virus before it’s too late.
For new BioDawn CEO Richard Wainwright, it quickly becomes clear that the “accidental” plane crash that killed the pharmaceutical company’s entire executive hierarchy may have some connection to the evolving threat. Suddenly, Richard is being stalked by a hit woman. He and Butler join forces to find the lone terrorist at the center of a plan that could unleash the Black Plague of the 21st century.
Thanks for this interview! Would you call yourself a born writer?
I’d have to guess that people who love writing probably have some inherent or genetic predisposition for it. My father was a prolific writer (text books) and I discovered at an early age I enjoyed both reading and writing. I began writing short stories–to some minor acclaim–in high school, authored five nonfiction books between 1979 and 1993, then focused on becoming a novelist beginning in 2000. But–and this is a big BUT–just because you can write well doesn’t mean you can write novels. To do that you must learn a craft, and it took me ten years to do that. To draw an analogy, just because you can hammer together a coffee table doesn’t mean you can build a house; that requires learning a different craft.
What was your inspiration for Plague?
I was inspired by a nonfiction book, Richard Preston’s Hot Zone, a best seller in the mid-1990s. As I read the book, I became fascinated by the Ebola virus and scared to death by the thought there might be an airborne version of it. Novelists, thriller writers in particular, love things that scare folks. So, I began thinking about how I could craft all of this into a scary novel.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I don’t know that I ever set out consciously to explore specific themes, but themes of redemption and second chances seem to recur in my novels. In Plague, for instance, the protagonist, Richard Wainwright, a former high-profile and very successful CEO, has largely withdrawn from life, both professionally and socially, following the premature death of his wife. But after reluctantly accepting a position as a temporary CEO at a biotech company, he discovers new (and deadly) challenges and even more surprisingly manages to rekindle an old love interest.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
Including the research, a long time actually. I began writing it in 2003, put it away for awhile to work on what became my first published novel, Eyewall, then revived it in 2010. The final version is the product of about five rewrites.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
I am decidedly disciplined and persistent–it took ten years and four manuscripts before my first novel was published–but there is no typical writing day for me. One day I may have a chance to complete only one page, another day I may reel off eight or more. Some days I may not work on my current novel at all, blogging or cranking out a short story instead. I grab time where I can find it. If necessary, I’ll sacrifice golf in favor of writing. Fortunately, I’m a terrible golfer, so it’s not a huge sacrifice.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
The amount of research I had to do for it. Usually my thrillers center on some aspect of weather–I’m a meteorologist by trade and training–so they’re pretty easy for me to write. But virology and bio-weapons were something entirely foreign, but very interesting, to me. I did a great deal of background work using the Internet, and also read about half a dozen books on the subject.
What do you love most about being an author?
Just the satisfaction of completing a project and then hearing someone say, “I really enjoyed that.”
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
My publisher is BelleBooks. They were essentially a small, independent press when my first novel was published with them, but since then have grown into what might be termed a “mid-major.” I’m extremely happy with them. They’ve been able to leverage the tectonic shifts that have occurred within the publishing industry and have been very responsive to me as an individual. I feel like part of the company.
Where can we find you on the web?