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Interview: H.W. “Buzz” Bernard, Author of Plague

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A writer and retired meteorologist, H. W. “Buzz” Bernard made his debut in the writing world in May 2011 with his novel Eyewall, which went on to become a best-seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Mr. Bernard’s second novel, Plague, released in September 2012, has all of the makings of another best-seller.  Currently he is busy working on his third novel Supercell while promoting Plague.

Prior to retiring, Buzz Bernard 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, Buzz Bernard has provided important field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, as well as served two tours in Vietnam.  Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.

Buzz Bernard is 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.

Mr. Bernard currently is vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association  and a member of International Thriller Writers, the Atlanta Writers Club, and Willamette Writers.

He and his wife, Christina, reside in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes overactive Shih-Tzu, Stormy.

Readers can learn more about H.W. “Buzz” Bernard by visiting the following links:

Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

If you had to describe your book in two sentences, what would they be?

In only a matter of days, 9/11 and the destruction of the Twin Towers will be rivaled by a lone-wolf terrorist attack on America.

Atlanta is targeted as Ground Zero for the most horrifying plague in modern times.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your current work?

My antagonist, Alnour Barashi, and his Russian mentor are walking through the halls of the Koltsovo Institute of Molecular Biology (a real place in Siberia) near the end of the Cold War.

The Russian is talking about the Ebola virus:

“Fortunately, for humans, it can’t be transmitted through the air. At least it’s never been observed outside of a laboratory setting.”

“But if it could be?” Barashi says.

“You mean like the common cold?”


“Then the world wouldn’t have to worry about overpopulation any longer.”

The men walked on in silence, their boots clicking on the hard linoleum floor, echoing off the cold walls of Koltsovo’s Building Fifteen. Barashi thought he could hear the moan of the frigid Siberian wind outside. Or maybe it was just the icy breath of death.

What are five important things that you take into consideration while writing your story?

First, tell a good story, a unique one if possible. Second, embed the reader in the story, meaning make him or her feel part of the tale, not as if he or she is just an outsider looking in. Third, give the reader a character (or characters) to root for, maybe even identify with. Fourth, make certain to grab the reader up front, meaning within the first few paragraphs of the book. Fifth–and this is probably what I focus on most–keep the reader turning the pages–have a hook or cliffhanger at the end of every chapter.

Why should readers pick up your book?

It’s scary. It’s a page-turner. And there are twists and turns in it that even I didn’t see coming until particular scenes unfolded beneath my fingers.

What was the turning point when you realized you wanted to write and share your voice with the world?

I don’t believe it was a turning point, per se, but more of an evolution. Learning to be a novelist, at least for me, was not easy. I always knew I could write well, but telling a story of 80,000 or 100,000 words and keeping a reader engaged and turning pages was an entirely different challenge. It meant having to learn a new craft. For me, that took 10 years and four different manuscripts. In the end, it became less about wanting to “share my voice,” and more about beating the odds. I just wanted to prove I could be a commercially published novelist.

What genres do you prefer to read? Which do you enjoy writing in?

I read primarily thriller/suspense novels, so that’s what I feel most comfortable writing. But I don’t write traditional thrillers–about spies or detectives or superheroes. I delve more into man vs. nature. Plague is essentially a tale of man vs. the Ebola virus and a terrorist who has weaponized it. My first novel, Eyewall, sweeps you into a Cat 5 hurricane and the lives of the people who challenge it. And the book I’m currently writing, Supercell, is a unique drama set against tornado chasing on the Great Plains.

What five things would you have with you at all times if you had to be prepared to take a trip at the drop of a hat?

My wallet (cash, credit cards), my toiletry kit, a change of underwear, my Nook, and my cell phone.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

I realize there are no cosmic checks and balances in life that make certain the good stuff and bad stuff that happens to us evens out in the end. Life isn’t fair, and we shouldn’t expect it to be. But I’m still bothered by the fact there are a few people who bear much heavier crosses than the rest us throughout their lives. If I had one superpower, it would be to somehow make the burdens of such individuals lighter and more tolerable–to level the playing field, so to speak. In many cases, I suppose, that would suggest having some sort of healing capability.

What footprint do you want to leave behind in this world?

I’m kind of hanging on the last branch of my family tree, so I’ll be all but forgotten within a generation. But if a few decades from now someone picks up one of my novels and gets a kick out of reading it, that wouldn’t be a bad legacy.

Beyond that, I hope that some of my charitable giving will have a lasting effect, though it won’t be connected directly to me (that is, by name), nor does it have to be. The only thing that matters is the result: hopefully, a tiny change that somehow makes the world better.

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