Q&A with Brent Wolfingbarger

1. What made you want to write a political thriller?
I’ve always been interested in politics, and my experience handling election law cases served to heighten my awareness as to the myriad of ways that a very determined group of people could corruptly influence the results of an election.  Thus, the seed for The Dirty Secret was planted in my brain, and I’m very happy that I was able to drawn upon my real world experience to craft a story that reviewers have consistently found enjoyable.

2. Who is your favorite character in The Dirty Secret and why?
I’d say probably Sheriff “Silent” Doug Vaughn.  I really love Silent Doug because he is an enigma throughout most of the book.  A big, strong, by-the-book law enforcement guy who isn’t real big on small talk, he just keeps his nose to the grindstone and gets his job done without much fanfare.  However, there’s an air of mystery about him – especially when it comes to his missing left eye – and readers tend to be quite curious about him, wondering exactly what role he will play when the drama reaches its crescendo.  Slowly disclosing Silent Doug’s backstory, setting the stage where his key role is revealed, was one of the most satisfying parts of writing the book for me.

3. What sort of coffee would Rikki and Dave order from Starbucks?
Wow.  Great question!  Rikki is a very particular woman who knows what she wants, and I think she would probably order a White Chocolate Mocha.  She would relish its decadent white chocolate taste while resolving to run a few extra miles on the treadmill to burn off the extra calories.  And she would definitely get the grande size, as I can just hear her saying, “Go big or go home!” 

Dave, on the other hand, is known to relax with an ice cold Yuengling or Diet Coke in his hand.  So if he is venturing into a Starbucks, my bet is he would go with something cold like a Caramel Frappucino or an Iced Caramel Macchiato.

4. Why did you pick West Virginia as the setting?  
First of all, West Virginia is my home state, and I feel like I have a pretty good grip on its political currents.  I have represented both Democrats and Republicans in election law cases in West Virginia, and I believe my familiarity with the state’s history and laws helped me create a story that rings true with people.
Plus, I think it’s a pretty unique place with a unique culture that provides an entertaining setting for a political thriller:  After all, even a political thriller junkie like me gets a little tired of reading about the same old scenes in Washington, DC over and over and over.  Choosing West Virginia allowed me to break the mold just a bit, while also faithfully adhering to the advice that New York Times best-selling author, Stephen Coonts, has been kind enough to share with aspiring authors on his website:  “Beginning writers are well advised to write about something they know. Many beginners try to write about people and places and events that they know absolutely nothing about, and consequently expend vast quantities of time and effort but cannot get the story to read right.”

5. What do you hope to say to people with your writing?
As goofy as it may sound, I honestly have no underlying “message” I’m trying to convey.  I just wanted to write a story that people would find enjoyable, entertaining, unpredictable, and occasionally humorous.  And from the reviews I’ve received thus far, I think I succeeded.

6. Do you have any dirty secrets you want to share?
I remain a die-hard fan of 80s “arena rock” music!  From the big names like Guns N Roses, Great White, Dokken, Night Ranger, Judas Priest and Tesla, to lesser known bands like Tyketto, Baton Rouge, and XYZ, there’s just something about that genre of music that gets me pumped up and ready to take on the world!

7. What book do you recommend everyone should read?
On the fiction side, even if you’re not a fan of science fiction, you can’t go wrong reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  A great story with one of the most jaw-dropping curveballs I’ve ever read.  On the non-fiction side, if you’re interested in learning about American history and how regional cultural influences carried by immigrants from various parts of Britain continue to influence American cultural and political views today, I’d strongly recommend Albion’s Seed:  Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer.

8. What did you have for dinner last night?
Some home cooking, compliments of my wife!  BBQ ribs, scalloped potatoes and green beans. Oh, yeah! 

9. What book are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Coup D’état by Ben Coes.  It’s the second book in his series of thrillers featuring a former Delta soldier named Dewey Andreas, and it was a great read.  I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Power Down , so now it looks like I will need to pick up the third and most recent book in the series, The Last Refuge.

10. What's next for you?
I’m working on a sequel to THE DIRTY SECRET, after which I will shift gears and focus on another thriller project featuring an entirely different group of characters.  That is, when I can find the time late at night, after my wife and I have put our two kids to bed. LOL

Additionally, here are the links to my author website, as well as to online retailers where my book can be purchased:


Amazon.com (also available on all of Amazon’s European channels)

Barnes & Noble

Books A Million

West Virginia Book Company

Brent Wolfingbarger has been practicing law for almost two decades, representing both Democrats and Republicans in closely contested, high-profile election law battles.  He spent five years as a prosecutor in West Virginia, handling the full spectrum of cases including murder, sexual assault and computer-related crimes and actively focusing on cutting-edge issues related to the acquisition, analysis and use of digital evidence in criminal cases.
Wolfingbarger lives in Washington, DC where he continues to work as a prosecutor, handling white collar financial crimes and violent crimes committed against elderly and disabled victims.  Visit his website at www.wolfingbarger.com.