Friday, 2 December 2022

Meet Wendy H Adair, author of The Broken Hallelujah


I recently discovered that American author, Wendy Adair, has a new historical fiction novel out, The Broken Hallelujah, which is set during the Vietnam War. I have a great excerpt from the novel to share with you all on Monday, but first I was thrilled to have the chance to interview Wendy, chatting about her writing life and discovering what inspired The Broken Hallelujah.

Let's meet Wendy ... 

I began a lifelong love of reading before kindergarten. My earliest memories include going to the library or bookmobile and bringing home a box of books…every week.  I was raised on Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Wizard of Oz, Black Beauty, and other works of mystery and wonder.  Not surprising I would work to solve mysteries and answer questions in my own writing.  

My connection to words led to a career in public relations and marketing.  Armed with degrees in communication, business and library science, I held senior management positions in higher education, winning numerous local, regional and national marketing awards while working at both the University of Houston and Texas Southern University.  

After forty years writing non-fiction, including a 175-page history of the University of Houston, I retired and finally turned to creating fictional worlds. With the help of a Writer’s League of Texas five-day retreat and the eighteen-month long Online Certificate in Novel Writing program at Stanford University, I embraced both retirement and novel writing.  The result of which is The Broken Hallelujah.  

When I’m not slaving over my computer, I spend time in my backyard garden and with my crazy fur babies—Jade, my yappy but huggable white schnauzer, and her best friend, Yara, a gorgeous and unflappable Russian blue feline.  

Currently, I’m working on a mystery set at a university…involving three generations of strong women determined to clear a friend of a murder/suicide charge.  I just finished the first draft and hope to have it out in 2023.  I’m having a great time sending up some favorite academic places and people in my fictitious university.  My forty years in academe opened many doors, introduced me to an amazing variety of characters, took me around the world from Houston to Alaska and Nigeria to Beijing, and offered many an outrageous tale to provide a plethora of plots. 


Q: What inspired you to tell Martin's story in The Broken Hallelujah?

A: Although a complete work of fiction, the idea was born from my fiancé’s tale of giving up his commission as a lieutenant during the Vietnam War because he was lied to when he enlisted.  The audacity of this act, and what it said about his sense of right and wrong stuck with me long after his death.  

And so it grew into a tale of a soldier trying to get back to his family while doing what’s right in a hellish war, and his granddaughter fifty years later trying to discover why he was missing in action and find a way to bring him home.  

It is important to note, the 1,586 soldiers still listed as MIA from the Vietnam War are real.  Fifty years after the US pulled out of that country, we still have nearly 1,600 people unaccounted for.  That number alone made it necessary for me to complete this book.


Q: How did you go about researching the book's different locations and time periods?

A: I called on friends who had served in the armed forces during that war as well as video and written records of soldiers’ lives and survival in the jungles of Vietnam. Retired Special Forces Major James Morris, himself an award-winning author of War Story and The Dreaming Circus, helped immeasurably to ensure the military information and Vietnam settings were as accurate as possible.  

The information from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was garnered from their website, although Major Bronstein and the other characters mentioned were created for this book.  The National League of MIA/POW Families organization also exists, again the people mentioned are fictitious.


Q: I understand you wrote nonfiction throughout your working life before switching to fiction after retirement. How do the two styles differ for you?

A: The preparation for writing is much the same whether I was doing an article for a university magazine or to pitch to an outside media.  Research—ensuring all settings, details, resources, and content are accurate and complete—holds for both fiction and non-fiction.  The biggest difference comes in the actual writing.  In non-fiction I worked with existing sources, direct quotes, accurate descriptions, and verifying the accuracy before publishing.  Fiction writing is both more freeing and more frightening.  I now control all sources, descriptions, characters, and what they do.  I’m responsible for their quotes and how they are changed through the book.  At first it felt a bit daunting.  But it proved true that once I began developing the characters, they did seem to lead me to their own reality.  It was an amazing feeling.  

The best example I can give you is in the development of Martin, the Vietnam soldier.  My original thought was to keep his story told through his journal entries.  However, very quickly it felt to confining and distancing to only use the brief notes a soldier could make after all events were over.  He needed to show what was happening, the others in his unit, the interaction with the villagers.  So, the plan changed.  We now see Martin both through his journal entries, and directly as those entries pull his granddaughter Robin back to 1969 and into the war.


Q: Do you have a dedicated writing space? What does it look like?

A: I live in a 100-year-old bungalow in Houston.  I work in my home office, which I created in a small bedroom in the back.  I have a glorious view into my backyard, that includes three fountains, a seven-foot-tall whirligig, numerous colorful pots, and lush plantings.  It is a great place to let the mind wander wherever it wishes.


Q: Now that The Broken Hallelujah is out in the world, what are you working on next?

A: I just completed the first draft of a mystery set at a university.  Deliver Us From Evil…and the 6’oclock News involves three generations of strong women determined to clear a faculty member/friend of a murder/suicide charge.  I’m having a great time sending up some favorite academic places and people in my fictitious university.  My forty years in academe opened many doors, introduced me to an amazing variety of characters, took me around the world from Houston to Alaska and Nigeria to Beijing, and offered many an outrageous tale to provide a plethora of plots.  

My hope is that this will grow into a fun series, with each of these women finding trouble and adventures to involve them all and entertain my readers.


You can buy The Broken Hallelujah @ Amazon / The Book Depository / Waterstones

You can find Wendy on the Bungalow Books Facebook page and their Website


See you on Monday for that excerpt from The Broken Hallelujah!


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