Interview with Greg Messel, author of the Sam Slater Mysteries
Greg Messel has written four novels and three unpublished memoirs. He published his premiere novel “Sunbreaks” in 2009, followed by Expiation in 2010 and The Illusion of Certainty in 2011. Last of the Seals is the first in a series of mysteries which are set in 1957 San Francisco. The second book in the series Deadly Plunge will be published around Christmas of 2012. Greg grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has had a newspaper career as a columnist, sportswriter and news editor. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist while working for a daily newspaper in Wyoming. Greg also spent many years in the corporate world as a Financial Manager. He now devotes his energies to writing at his home in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle, where he lives with his wife, Carol.
Visit Greg’s website at www.gregmessel.com.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Greg! Can you tell us where you are from?
I was born in Vincennes, Indiana and my family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when I was six. I grew up in Concord, California in the East Bay. I now live in Edmonds, Washington, which is just north of downtown Seattle, on Puget Sound.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
“Deadly Plunge” is the sequel in my mystery series which began with “Last of the Seals.” “Deadly Plunge” refers to the incident at the beginning of the story when a rich successful man apparently commits suicide by jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Secondarily, the title refers to a “deadly plunge” my two main protagonists–Sam Slater and Amelia Ryan–take in getting involved with some very shady characters who are using a mysterious house to plot a political assassination.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
I’ve found a great designer, Khalid Winston, who did the covers for “Last of the Seals” and “Deadly Plunge.” Covers are so important in making a first impression. I see a lot of covers which I think are not professional and kind of tacky. I’m pretty proud of my covers. It has a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and an image of Sam Slater which was used on the “Last of the Seals” cover. I love the colors on the cover and the atmosphere it creates.
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
The two books in the mystery series have a little bit of everything. The story takes place in San Francisco in 1957 and 1958. There are a lot of great atmospherics that come from that. There is mystery, romance, suspense and even a little baseball.
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
The underlying theme is about friendships and ultimately the healing power of love for the main character, Sam Slater. He has had a lot of hard knocks in his life but he meets Amelia and she changes his life with her love.
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
I had completed the story and then got an idea to juice it up considerably. I rewrote the last several chapters to include a creepy stalker and a kidnapping plot. I like what it did to the whole story in “Deadly Plunge” and I think readers will agree. Chapter 30 is where the story takes an unexpected turn and it really amps up the suspense and feeling of foreboding.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
I had been looking for some time for a situation, a story and a cast of characters that I could turn into an ongoing series. I think I found them in “Last of the Seals.” I was anxious to continue the story in “Deadly Plunge.” I am currently well into the writing of the third book in the series “San Francisco Secrets.”
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
I don’t have too dark of a past. I have one Social Security number and have never used an alias. There are things I wouldn’t necessarily want to make public. I do like to sneak away by myself in the afternoons and go to a movie. I’ve done that for years and it’s my own private little thing.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I love France and Paris. I had a great trip there a few years ago and wouldn’t mind spending more time there or in England. However, I really have my eye on a trip to Scandinavia–Finland, Norway and Denmark–that I would like to take sometime in the next few years.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
Definitely night. I’ve never liked having to get up early in the morning.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
I have a grandson who has expressed interest in writing. He and I have talked about it. He’s the editor of his school paper now. This kid was born to supervise and he’s also very smart. He might become a writer in some form.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
I’ve never thought of myself as a dreamer but I had very definite ideas about what I wanted to do and much of it involved breaking the mold that had been established in my family. It was a good thing that I didn’t know how impossible some of the odds were that I did ultimately overcome.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
I would like to have all of my hair back. I have always wanted to be taller. Maybe that’s not such a good idea though since my wife is under five feet tall.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
I think my mystery series which includes “Deadly Plunge” is a unique trip back in time to San Francisco in the 1950s. Readers and reviewers have really liked my characters, especially Sam Slater and Amelia Ryan. I hope you’ll give it a try.