Barnes & Noble interview

Author Spotlight: Gene Hilgreen
4/13/2017 0 Comments

​Gene Hilgreen lives in Lindenhurst, NY with his faithful companion Millie—a rescued Border collie. He spent thirty years in Information Technology and ITGC security audit. As an ex-gymnast and freestyle skier, he lived on the edge with a devil-may-care attitude.

Now retired, he writes suspense thrillers and monthly short stories for The Writers 750 Group on LinkedIn. He has authored Dragon at 1600, the first of a series in which he relives his rebellious past through his protagonist Buck Axele Davidssen—a protector of the Constitution—who reports only to God and Old Glory.
His second series spins off Jules Spenser—a prodigy child—who wants to follow in Grandpa Buck’s footsteps.

​​​After thirty plus years in the Information Technology field (my last position was the Chief Information Officer for Take 2/Rockstar Games—creator of the multi-billion dollar Grand Theft Auto franchise), I was looking to retire. Three heart attacks and a quad-bypass didn’t seal the deal. It took my wife contracting un-curable cancer for me to turn in my keys.

Jules Spenser, a sixteen-year-old protégée child, has come to Texas to intern for her PhD. With her gymnastics career on hold—she takes the job of her dreams at her grandfathers company—the Advanced Nanoscience Research Center on South Padre Island.

Jules has it all; good looks, athleticism, intelligence—she was born with an eidetic mind, and an attitude.

Her grandfather Buck Davidssen, a retired Marine sniper, gifted in computers and logic has groomed her since childhood, and has also spent many a ‘Don’t tell mom moment’ with Jules teaching her the finer points of assault weapons and hand-to-hand combat.

Jules should be living a carefree life but, she doesn’t. She’s a social misfit and defaults to her devil-be-damned attitude every time she strays from her comfort zone.

In her first week interning—a fellow student goes missing, and then another. When the authorities turn up nothing, Jules finds herself flying solo in an investigation that may get her killed.

Her mentor Dr. Anna Semyonova begs her to back off. She is concerned that Jules’ arrogance and believing she can do anything—is her greatest fatal flaw, and will ultimately be her undoing.

But, when the two girls turn up dead and showcased for the world to see, Jules puts her life on the line and races against time to stop the killer before he strikes again.

Who I am and why I wrote ‘First of Jules’

​I would sit in my home office—across from the room where my wife was bedridden, and research cures. I stayed current with the IT world and gained two additional interests—Quantum Physics and Bio-Nanotechnology.

I’m a veracious reader and in my fake world—I began inventing cures.

I came across a quote by Philip Pullman: “We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”

Yes, I said and then I began writing–

I joined several writing groups on LinkedIn and began participating in short story contests. At the same time, a combination of events occurring in the world of politics—dug deep in my soul, and I began writing Dragon at 1600—a very political suspense thriller.

My peers at the Writers 750 Group selected my third short story as the best. Mind you, I had creativity, but my grammar was horrendous. One of the members of the Fiction Writers Group (Dr. Lyn Alexander) took me under her wings—and yes she is an angel, gave me several books to read on writing. She hammered grammar into me until it sunk in, but thank god for editors—I will always need them.

Several of my short stories have been published in anthologies and are available at my Amazon Author page: . My last three shorts will be published, too.

My first two novel, Dragon at 1600 and The K2 Sanction—it’s sequel—are mine and unpublished. I only let close friends, family, and my editors read them.

I was in a major funk after my wife lost her battle with cancer and just stopped writing. My writing friends begged me to write—try something different they said.

Just write–

What inspired you to write your first book?

With a freshly opened bottle of Jameson by my keyboard, my nine—year old granddaughter walked into my home office.

“What’s up Grandpa,” Jules said.

With tears in my eyes, I looked at her and said, “FIRST OF JULES.” And with that said, I created Jules Spenser.

The thought of creating a young female protagonist was always planted somewhere in the Limbic System of my brain. As a long time Cornwell fan—I was enamored with Kate Scarpetta, and when Lucy Farinelli was introduced—I just wanted more. Cornwell thought she created a monster—I beg to differ—I loved Lucy, and wanted my own.

I wanted a character that was intelligent, athletic, packed an attitude, and had enough faults to make her interesting to the YA arena and adults. I brought in enough supporting characters from my Buck A. Davidssen series to accomplish that, and not take away from Jules.

Although I have quit my day job—I write because I love to write—not to make a living. When I make someone smile, it makes me smile. And yes, I have an em-dash fetish—I even created a character named Dr. Emma Dash. I put the em-dashes in and my editors take them out—we’re both happy.

I am currently writing two novels; ‘Second Chances’ the sequel to ‘First of Jules’ and ‘The People of Venetian Shores’—a fictional account of the people who make that quarter-mile stretch of dirt sand in Lindenhurst, NY—my favorite place to be in the summer.

Who designed the covers?

I put a lot of effort into my characters and book cover designs. I have a bio page for all my main characters. I also create spreadsheets on locations and cities around the world including time zones, sunrises and sunsets, airports, weapons, and anything that may end up in my novels.

How did you come up with the title?

I knew what I was looking for when I created Jules Spenser—a young blonde woman holding a Glock. I searched the internet for my ideal model, and when I found her—I bought the rights to her photos. While writing chapter 22 and 23 of First of Jules—the cover came to me. I had lived on South Padre Island, TX—the home of my fake Corporation, and had the perfect picture of the beach for that scene. I cut and pasted what I wanted the cover to look like and then searched for a graphic artist—I found two, Nancy Batra and my niece, Jamee Mascia—and they’re both listed in my novel.

If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?

I expect every novel I write to become a movie—that’s how I roll. I assign actors and actresses on the bio pages. I may change my mind, but I want to see that character as I write. My current Jules Spenser is Eliza Taylor from ‘The 100’.

What book are you reading now?

I am currently reading ‘Filthy Rich’ by my favorite author James Patterson.

Do you have a blog/website?

My website is
Amazon Author page:

You can see the original interview here!