Thursday, December 8, 2011

Interview with novelist Greg Messel

Today's guest is novelist Greg Messel to tell us a bit about his newest novel and his writing life.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Greg. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve written three novels and three unpublished memoirs. I’m working on a fourth and fifth novel as well.

I’ve spent much of my life in the Pacific Northwest living in Portland, Oregon and in the Seattle area since 2008. I’ve been married to my wife, Carol, for 40 years. We were high school sweethearts just like the couple in my second novel, Expiation. I’ve lived in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, and Wyoming and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduating from high school there. I attended a year of junior college, then went to Brigham Young University. I began a newspaper career in the rough and tumble Wyoming town of Rock Springs. We have three married children and ten grandchildren.

I worked as the news editor and sports editors of the Daily Rocket-Miner newspaper, winning a Wyoming Press Association award for my column. I also have published articles in various sports magazines. I left the newspaper business in 1981 and began a 27 year career with Pacific Power. After retiring in 2008, I moved to Seattle.

It was there that I returned to my first love--writing. My first novel, Sunbreaks, was published with Trafford in September 2009. The second novel Expiation was published in the spring of 2010 with Trafford.

The third novel, The Illusion of Certainty was published by Yorkshire Publishing in September of 2011.

We live on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, a ferryboat town, just north of downtown Seattle. I also enjoy running and have been in several races and half marathons.

That's a lot already. Please tell us about your newest book.
The Illusion of Certainty follows two parallel story lines. Marc is a successful businessman who seems to have everything—a great job, a beautiful wife, a house in an upscale neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, and two great kids who are preparing for college. But something is not right. Marc is unsettled by the sudden change in his wife, Aimee, who seems distant and unhappy. What is going on with her?

The second storyline involves a successful young attorney, Alexandra Mattson. Alex, as she is called by her friends, meets a handsome young cop, Sean, during an unexpected crisis in her neighborhood. Sean and Alex seem made for each other and begin to merge their futures in a world of uncertainty.

The only certainty in life is that we will face uncertainty. Despite all of the technology and controls available in the modern world, sometimes the only comfort comes from the human touch.

What inspired you to write this book?
There are so many unexpected events that impact our life. I began thinking about this when the economy suddenly collapsed in 2008. I was also diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago. Fortunately, my treatments have been successful and I am for the time being in good health. These events and watching similar occurrences in other people’s lives, made me ponder the sudden turnarounds we can experience. We think we are in control of our lives but it is only an “illusion of certainty.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on the first in a mystery series featuring private investigator, Sam Slater. The name of the book is “The Last of the Seals.” Sam is a longtime baseball player with the minor league San Francisco Seals. Sam’s career is coming to an end and the Seals are being displaced by the move of the Giants from New York to San Francisco. Sam is joining his old Army buddy in his private investigation business.

Sam also meets a dazzling, Elvis-obsessed TWA stewardess named Amelia. When his friend is suddenly slain, Sam and Amelia find themselves thrown into a tense struggle to find the murderer before he finds them. I’m really excited about the new book and I hope to have it published by the beginning of the summer of 2012.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began writing when I was a child. I have an old canvas bag with crayon writing on it. It was my newspaper bag. I wrote the “paper” and then delivered it to neighbors and friends. I found the canvas bag in some things at my grandmother’s house after she died. I supported myself through high school and college being a stringer for local newspapers. Then, after college, I had a career as a sports writer, columnist and news editor. I finally got to try writing novels and published my first one in 2009.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full time now after retiring from the corporate world. I usually write for a few hours each afternoon. I have fallen into a pattern of thinking about and outlining my book during the summer months. Then when rainy weather returns to Seattle in the fall, it’s a good time to stay inside and start to write.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know why, but I have to go back and add contractions to my dialogue. I don’t talk that way, but I seem to write that way. I’m always correcting that in my writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to write for a newspaper and to write books. I’m pretty lucky that I got the chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you try The Illusion of Certainty. I think it is both a business fable and a romance. It speaks to the struggles that many people face in the early 21st Century. I was glad to see reviewers saying that the story appeals to the romantic hopeful in all of us.

Thanks for your time today, Greg. Keep on writing!