Friday, July 11, 2014

Interview with author Glen Thomas Hierlmeier

Today we get to know author Glen Thomas Hierlmeier a little bit better.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I retired in 2009 after serving as President and CEO of multiple companies in the real estate development and management field. My career began with my graduation from the United States Air Force Academy in 1967 and assignments on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory Space Program and then the F-15 Fighter Aircraft Development Program. My entire service was during the Viet Nam War, and seventeen of my classmates were killed during the war. That experience had a profound effect on me. Though I never served in Viet Nam itself, I held what were considered critical stateside positions in support of the war effort.

I left the Air Force in 1973, and with a Masters of Business Administration from The University of Wisconsin at Madison in hand, I returned to my home State of Wisconsin to begin my civilian career in banking, then later moved into real estate.

Since “retirement” I have concentrated on my family, four daughters, their husbands, and ten grandchildren, and rail-trail biking with my wife, as well as my writing.

What’s something that you never leave home without?

It seems lately it’s my iPhone I can’t be without. I have mixed emotions about that, except when it comes to taking notes when I come up with an idea I want to consider for one of my stories, or I need to do some quick research about the period or location where my story is taking place. Just a few minutes ago, for example, I used it to look into churches in Ukraine around the time of WWI, and the predominant religions in the region. What would I do without it? Earlier, I prompted my memory about the time period Ella Fitzgerald lived after I read a reference to her in a WWII period novel---I hadn’t realized how popular and important her music was during the war. I’m reading “The Lost Wife” by Alison Richman in an attempt to improve my romantic passages. One of her main characters makes a comment about Ella. What a marvelous advantage to be able to carry a research library around in my pocket!

If you were stuck in a dingy floating in the middle of the ocean, who and what would you want with you and why?

You just keep asking the tough questions! But, without hesitation, I would choose to be stuck with my wife, life partner, mentor, and editor, Dr. RuthAnn Hierlmeier. Come hell or high water we’ll go down together. I would have with me the long-time-in-coming sequel to Barry Unsworth’s novel, “Sacred hunger”, titled “Quality of Mercy”, because I want to be sure to read it before I die. She will have the complete works of Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, Elizabeth George, Jonathan Kellerman, Agatha Christie, P. D. James, and the Bible.

What are your biggest influences in life? Who are your biggest supporters?

I think you can tell from my previous answer that RuthAnn is my biggest supporter as well as being a huge influence. She teaches English and literature, and has a special place in her heart for mythology, and obviously loves mysteries.

What is your favourite genre to read?

I write in my favourite genre, which is historical fiction, though all authentic stories naturally include a romance. Everything in life is about relationships at one level or another, so you might say historical fiction romance, though I have had my genre also described as mainstream fiction.

Three of my favorite all-time books, coming from three different periods of my life, are “Gone with the Wind”, “Out of Africa”, and “Sacred hunger”. All are distinctly historical and each includes a deep romantic relationship through which the story unfolds.

Can you tell me about your ideal reader?

My readers are interested in the little reported impacts of war on common citizens who get caught up in the rapacious hubris of powerful men (very seldom women). They are serious, not generally interested in fantasy, sci-fi, dystopia, or the like except for an occasional tryst. They like their romance to be serious and deep, emphasizing love based on common interests, values, and experiences rather than sexual encounters.

How did you begin writing professionally?

My whole life I have heard family and friends say about my birth family, “Someone should write a book about your family.” I did. It’s good. I’m pleased. “We Had to Live: We Had No Choice”.

I was initially inspired to write by my English and literature teacher in high school. Miss Elizabeth Ritzman saw some potential I was not aware of, and encouraged me to be more than just an athlete, which is what my primary focus was at the time. Ultimately I received an MBA with an emphasis in Finance, but I found my writing skills to be very valuable over a long career in business. Along the way I always yearned to write and began writing short stories and essays, particularly about family experiences.

When I retired, I was again inspired by an English and literature teacher, my wife, Dr. RuthAnn Hierlmeier. The combination of her encouragement and that statement I have heard many times about my birth family, “Someone should write a book about your family,” inspired me to do just that. . .“write the book”. I didn’t want it to be a typical ancestry book, but a very readable story that would captivate the interest of the primary audience, the extended family of thousands over five generations, increasing the probability it would be widely read within the family. The first book, “We Had to Live: We Had No Choice” was followed by a second, a compilation of essays, short stories, and poetry titled “Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to Remember”.

What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?

The best thing is when someone tells me they couldn’t put my book down, or they love the characters, they want to know more, they never realized what really happened in the time period, or how emotionally involved they were. Every time I hear a comment like that, it’s the best thing that has happened to me all over again.

The worst thing hasn’t happened yet, but such is life, so I expect there will come the time.

Your latest release is a work of historical fiction. How much research went into the writing of this novel?

I researched every circumstance and setting to make it as authentic as possible. Even the fictional experiences of the characters are taken from real examples or are plausibly real. I used real places, buildings, and conditions as much as possible. The first part of the book is based on my extensive interviews with my oldest brother who himself was a U.S. Army Private sent to Germany as an escort for German Prisoners of War and served in a Texas POW Camp and in Germany. I would conservatively estimate that I spent four or five hours of research for every hour of completed text. Greek friends consulted with me on the passages in Greece, and my future Singaporean son-in-law consulted on the passage in Singapore.

Can you tell us a bit about Honor and Innocence and what it means to you?

What really happens . . . to German prisoners-of-war held in America when they are returned to what remains of their homeland after WWII? How can love grow between a young American soldier and a German girl when their countries are at war?

Young and naïve, Hank Fischer has no idea what the real meaning of war is, only that he is willing to protect his family and country, buoyed by his belief that ultimately the honorable and the innocent overcome the wicked and powerful. He and hundreds of thousands of American youth in the fresh spring of life could not really know what lay ahead.

Half a continent away, young Roberta only knows her Nazi SS father as a good and loving man whom she adores. The war rages far from the bucolic Bavarian countryside where she loves to tend her flowers. When her twin brother Max leaves for the western front in France he is lifted up as a hero, off to return Germany to its once proud heritage. She is very proud of him. She has no notion of the young American, so far away. Only the fates could allow the unfathomable events that lay ahead.

Hank and Roberta are drawn into an improbable relationship that severely tests their spiritual and moral fiber. Hank is confronted with decisions a young man should never have to face. Magnetically drawn to each other in spite of the bitter animosity between their native lands, from the moment they first meet, theirs is an improbable union of sweet spirits. Circumstances constantly threaten their bond as each cruel trial gravely tests their commitment. Yet, love grows stronger for these innocent young lovers seeking only peace, and a place where they may live honorable lives, and we ourselves experience the greed and hubris of their powerful adversaries, while sharing also in their intense love and joy.

Inspired by the true story of my brother who himself served in Europe during the Allied Occupation after WWII, this fictional account reveals the truth of suffering that lingered for many years and changed lives for generations. I am committed to telling the story that has not been fully revealed.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? Could you tell us a bit about it?

My group of trusted readers virtually screamed to know more about the characters in “Honor & Innocence “who they fell in live with. So, I decided there should be another book or two, beginning with the story of Lazlo Floznik, the Hungarian refugee living in Zurich, Switzerland, who helps Hank and Roberta escape Germany. This next book, with the working title, “Lazlo’s Revenge”, begins with the story of his parents; a story of love and war beginning in August 1914 at the outset of WWI. It’s the story of lives and loves torn asunder by the ravages of two world wars. In the end love wins out. Yet another book may chronicle the life of Captain Koz (Nikolas Kotsiomitis) another Hungarian refugee and orphan who is adopted by a Greek family in Athens and becomes a merchant ship Captain. There will be a point in each book where the separate lives of all these characters intertwines for a passage or two.

Do you have any advice for those who would like to begin writing professionally?

I would advise that any hopeful writer be sure to have a very clear idea of what he/she wants to accomplish. Carefully consider your goals in writing, and be realistic about them, and have a clear idea about how much time you want to devote and how much money you want to invest.

Spend a lot of time researching the business. There are a huge number of book and author sites on the internet where you can gain valuable information. Also, bear in mind that it is not just about writing; to be successful, i.e., profitable, you will have to be a third executive, a third marketer, and a third creative writer.

I think writing and publishing a novel is little like playing the lottery under present market conditions. If income is necessary, then writing assignments for a fee probably makes more sense. Otherwise, it will be time consuming and difficult to obtain an agent and publisher to publish traditionally, and while reasonably priced independent publishers abound, it may be very expensive to market your book as an independent writer. The industry has changed dramatically and continues to undergo an incredible expansion and makeover in this internet era. One very famous author with whom I have communicated advised me that it is a very tough market these days. He is so right!

The only sure thing is for those whose primary goal is to write for personal satisfaction; that is within reach for most of us.

About the author:

Glen graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, then earned a Masters of Business Administration at The University of Wisconsin at Madison. He served in the US Air Force on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory space exploration program and on the design phase of the development of the F-15 fighter aircraft. After leaving the Air Force, Glen returned to Wisconsin and became Vice President of the largest bank in his home state, First Wisconsin National Bank. In 1979, he moved on to become President and CEO of several real estate development and management companies. Glen retired in 2009 to devote full time to his grandchildren and his writing. Glen is the author of Honor and Innocence, We Had to Live: We Had No Choice…, and Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to Remember.

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A about Honor and Innocence:

Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War, a historical romance novel by Glen Hierlmeier was published March 2014. This book takes the reader through the devastation left by World War II across the European and Asian continents following its main character Hank Fischer, who was drafted to the American Army in 1945 shortly after his high school graduation.

During his service, Hank befriends a German prisoner-of-war, Max, who tells Hank of his twin sister, Roberta, also in captivity. An unlikely romance buds between her and Hank, leaving Hank conflicted between his allegiance to the American Army and his love for Roberta. Hank decides to break out Max and Roberta, and together they make a desperate flight through war-torn Germany where they witness first-hand the destruction post-war Europe has endured. Leaving Max behind in Switzerland, they make their way to the port city of Trieste, where they board a ship and depart to the seas, dealing with pirates, facing adversity, making new friends, and desperately seeking a safe refuge in a place where their love can flourish.

Follow Hank and Roberta on their intense and captivating journey from country to country as they seek refuge. Read as they make their way through bombed-out cities, giving a rare glimpse into the tragic consequences of war, as they remain together bound by love.

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