Bruce Hale, the creator of the popular “Chet Gecko” mysteries for children, discussed how he made the journey from “reluctant reader to author” at a free public lecture at Seton Hill on Jan. 9.

As a child, Bruce Hale found himself fascinated by stories, but not necessarily by books. “And then,” he says, “we lost someone very close to us. Our TV.”

Desperate to find some way of distracting his active, entertainment-deprived child, Hale’s father began to read to him.

“Tarzan changed my life,” Hale says. “It turned me into a reader. As soon as I could, I read everything Burroughs wrote – sometimes with the book in one hand and a dictionary in the other.”

As an adult, Hale moved from career to career, (and place to place – everywhere from Texas to Japan to Hawaii) before launching his career as a children’s author. While having some success in Hawaii, he struggled to get published on a wider scale.

“I collected rejection letters for nine years,” he says, and admits that his first children’s story was “pretty lame.” Encouraged by the belief that “persistence beats talent every day,” Hale continued to write, and to attend classes, workshops and conferences on writing. Eventually, he met an agent at a conference helped him get his first major book contract. “I read a quote from Bill Cosby once that said ‘everyone tells you to follow your dreams. But the first thing you have to do is wake up.’” Hale said. “I had to wake up, commit to what it takes to write and publish a book, before I could succeed.”

Today, Bruce Hale is the author (and often the illustrator) of nearly 20 books for young readers. In addition to the Chet Gecko mysteries (often described as a cross between Raymond Chandler and the Marx Brothers) Hale is also the creator of the Moki the Gecko picture books for ages 4–8. Currently, Hale is at work on a new series for young readers, part fiction/part graphic novel, set in “Underwhere,” a world below the one in which we live. (“I love noir movies, detective fiction, and corny jokes,” says Hale.) For more information on Bruce Hale or his books, visit

Bruce Hale visited Seton Hill University as part of the January residency for Seton Hill’s unique Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. The Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction teaches students to write marketable novels in popular genres like mystery, romance, science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Additional specialties include literature for children and adolescents, and cross-genre blends like romantic suspense or young adult mysteries. Students attend two weeklong, on-campus residencies each year to master the core elements of fiction writing and effective marketing and to gain inspiration from faculty mentors and special guests, all published authors in genre fiction. Established authors mentor students one-on-one as they work toward completing a market-ready manuscript from home. Readings, classes, and on-line discussion about the history, trends, and techniques of genre fiction add depth to the student's experience. For more information about the Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill, visit or contact Seton Hill’s Office of Graduate and Adult Studies at 724-838-4221.