21 February 2022

Special Guest Interview with Brad Hanson, Author of The Secret Eye


Available from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Charlie Brand, barely 17, enters World War II where he protects the fleet from Japanese threats in this new novel about the history of radar in World War II.

I'm pleased to welcome author Brad Hanson to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

The Secret Eye is the story about a young man, only 17, who feels compelled to join the US Navy following the attack on Pearl Harbor and becomes the best Radar Operator in the US Pacific Fleet.  In Japan, a young man, prompted by signs from his ancestors, joins his military after the glorious attack on Pearl Harbor to follow in his father’s footsteps and bring honor to his family.  Through a series of events, he becomes the Kamikaze pilot who attacks the USS Lexington in November of 1941.

Both men join World War 2 for different reasons.  Charlie Brand feels a calling from God to do something bigger than himself while Hadaki Yamatsumi, seeking the counsel of his ancestors, receives a sign directing his decision.  Hadaki chooses to join his military despite the possibility his family could lose everything if he is killed in battle.

The two men are thrust onto a collision course with destiny where only one man will survive.  Charlie, the protector of his carrier, the USS Lexington, through a secret technology allowing him to “see” over the horizon and Hadaki, a man seeking to capture the vision of honor and glory given to him on Mount Fuji by his ancestors.

The Secret Eye explores the military strategy of Japan and the United States as they battle for dominance over the Pacific Theater.   Admiral Yamamoto directs the Japanese military strategy against the best strategic military minds and technology the United States can produce.  The development of superior Radar technology proves a deciding factor in the war turning the tide for a struggling America.  But Japan pins its hopes of victory on one more weapon, one so destructive it will cause more United States naval deaths than all previous naval battles combined, the Kamikaze.

The Secret Eye uncovers the ancient mythological origins creating the Kamikaze and its use during World War 2.  How does Radar affect the outcome of these attacks and how does America finally devise a countermeasure to this deadly military strategy?

When men go to war, they leave behind loved ones desperate for news of their safety.  Romantic relationships are strained or strengthened as the wages of war are counted in the letters notifying families their son or husband will not return home.  Untold acts of bravery save thousands through the loss of a few brave men.  The Secret Eye chronicles the human side of war, honoring the memory of our greatest generation.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My full-time job is working for a fortune 100 technology company, so I write only on weekends and vacations.  Writing in the Historical Fiction genre, I used the arch of history to guide the story line, inserting my characters to explain the military strategy and technology used by each side.

I researched well known historical figures and gave them voice through their dialog.  I would listen, if possible, to the speaking cadence of a character and craft dialog that would remind the reader of the historical figure.  For example, many recordings still survive of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and they guided me while writing his dialog.  Try to imagine Roosevelt say these words.

“Gentlemen,” began Roosevelt, “these are tragic days we are in with much grievous news to endure. However, I am confident that we will soon turn the tide of this horrible war and drive our enemies into submission. The American people are sturdy, and we have proven we can fight if the cause is just. Japan attacked us, and the American people want justice. You, the men of the Joint Chiefs, will be the weight behind the spear that will guide and direct our forces to victory. Your vision and planning will light our path to victory.”

Instead of researching every part of the Pacific Theater during World War 2, I chose to break the war down into major sections.  The development in England of Radar and the Cavity Magnetron and how the United States mass produced the technology, pre-World War 2 preparations by Japan and the United States, and each major battle from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  As a natural procrastinator, breaking down the story into manageable sections reduced the anxiety I felt tackling the entirety of World War 2.

After researching a section, I would sit down to write about a battle sequence or important technology.  Using character dialog to describe technology or the environment of the scene, prevented overly dense text blocks enhancing the readability and enjoyment for my reader.  Using short chapters, five to six pages, progressed the story forward enticing the reader to continue.  Switching scenes (chapters) between the Japanese and United States perspective helped the reader understand the motivations and decisions of each side, creating a complete understanding of the Pacific Theater.

Through the backstory of Charlie and Hadaki, I was able to give context to the decisions and motivations of each character.  Humanizing both men, the reader could dispassionately follow their role in this historical drama while creating empathy for each man as he experiences loss through life changing decisions.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Without passion for your characters and their story, you cannot create a world your readers want to experience.  Careful research of your characters and their place in history is essential to spinning a story that will motivate your readers to “pull” on the thread of the story through your book.  Developing characters with real life problems and decisions helps the reader relate to their predicament within the story.

The hardest part of writing a book is starting. But before you can start, you need to have a strong premise for your story.  Over the years, I heard many stories from my real-life Charlie, the man who inspired Charlie Brand, describing his time on the USS Lexington, especially the Kamikaze attack.  My Charlie was just another navy man no one had ever heard of before.  But how interesting a story would it be if we looked at two men from each side of the war and followed their journey until the attack on the USS Lexington?  Now that is a premise I could write about!

Consistency is the key to being successful in a writing career.  You must find a consistent time to write and stick to it.  Nothing will derail you from your goal of completing a manuscript faster than deviating from a consistent writing schedule.  This does not mean you have to write every day or every week for a specific time.  Time to refresh is just as important as your time writing.  Give yourself time to let the story marinate in your mind.  My regular Saturday routine consisted of buying donuts and driving around the rural areas surrounding my home.  Driving was where my story crystalized before me, presenting the details I would later put to paper.  Find something that prepares you write.

Finally, if this is not fun for you, then you may be writing the wrong story.  I craved the time when I could write but be wary of burnout.  The grind of writing and counting the number of completed pages can wear you down to inaction.  You will have days where the writing is difficult, and you may not produce what you feel is required.  Allow yourself some grace on those days and your inspiration will soon return.  Do not crave the ending of your book, let your book dictate its own ending.  Listen closely and you will know when to say, the end.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Even though the genre of Historical Fiction has a smaller readership base, once you help your core readers find your book, they will reward you with strong sales.  Researching your target readership market is the key to getting awareness of your book.  Work with bloggers who feature your genre and give interviews wherever you can.  Remember, you are the only person who will market your book, even if you pay for their services.

Your ability to gain awareness of your book is directly proportional to the amount of money you can spend.  Most independent authors do not have $60,000 for a radio advertising campaign so plan your strategy to match your budget.  Selling your book is a marathon, not a sprint.  A lesson I continue to learn three months after the launch of my book.  Always plan your way to success.

I found an incredible amount of information at https://blog.bookbaby.com.  This information is free and guest bloggers share their experiences and tips to successfully meet your marketing goals.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

While America tried to resolve the oil embargo with Japan just before December 7th, 1941, Japan secretly left port to the north headed for their attack assembly coordinates.  All the time, America believed a training exercise would keep the Japanese fleet in port for the next three months.  With the range limitations of Radar at that time, the Japanese fleet avoided normal shipping lanes, arriving undetected in early December.

Listening stations close to Japan, intercepted radio traffic making the British and Americans believe the deception so expertly planned and executed.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Any time a character experience immense loss, I feel the emotions of the characters.  I know I have it right when I begin to cry while completing a scene.  While writing the attack on the USS Lexington by the Hadaki, the Kamikaze, both of my main character experienced profound loss.  Hadaki realizes his actions will have lasting consequences for his family and questions his decision joining the Kamikazes.  Charlie is within 30 feet from the impact zone, waiting for his best friend to arrive in their compartment.  He is only feet from safety when Hadaki hits the Lexington.  This is not the first time Charlie experiences loss, and this attack nearly kills his spirit to live.

Being emotionally connected to your characters helps you imagine how your writing will affect your reader.  If you are affected by your writing, so too will your reader.

What are you planning to write next?

I am beginning the research for my next book.  I would like to continue the Charlie Brand character or maybe follow a storyline from his son Chuck.  I am unclear if I will continue in the Historical Fiction genre and may switch to a spy themed book.  Either way, I have many plots to explore with this family.

Brad Hanson

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About the Author

Brad Hanson loves military history which prompted his desire to write this story. Inspired by experiences shared by a family member and those of our Greatest Generation, Brad is proud to bring this story to readers everywhere. When not working on writing projects, he works for a fortune 100 company as an operational leader of technology programs. He is an avid woodworker and golfer and has two grown children. He and his wife share their Texas home with their British Shorthair cats. Find out more at Brad's website https://www.bradhanson.net/ and find him on Facebook and Twitter @bhansonauthor

Giveaway Enter to win a copy of The Secret Eye by Brad Hanson! The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.


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