Thursday, July 21, 2011

Interview with Greg Messel, Author of Expiation

Joining us today is Greg Messel, author of the historical romance novel, Expiation. Greg has spent much of his life in the Pacific Northwest living in Portland, Oregon and in the Seattle area since 2008. He has been married to his wife, Carol, for 40 years. Greg went to Brigham Young University with Carol and then began a newspaper career in rough and tumble Wyoming town of Rock Springs. Greg and Carol have three married children and nine grandchildren.

Greg has always loved writing. He worked as the news editor and sports editors of the Daily Rocket-Miner newspaper. He won a Wyoming Press Association award for his column. He also submitted and had published articles in various sports magazines. He left the newspaper business in 1981 and began a 27 year career with Pacific Power. Greg retired in 2008 and moved to Seattle.

It was there that he returned to his first love of writing. He has written two unpublished memoirs and published his first novel with Trafford in September 2009.

Currently, Greg and Carol live on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, just north of downtown Seattle. He also enjoys running, he has been in several races and half marathons.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Greg. It's great to have you with us.  Where did you grow up?
I was born in Indiana and my family moved to California when I was five years old. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was a very exciting place to be at that time. Those experiences are woven all through the story line in Expiation.

When did you begin writing?

I found two artifacts from my childhood at my grandmother’s house after she died. One was a canvas bag with the name of a newspaper written in crayon on it. Another was a book I had written by hand, folded the paper so it was like a book and even did some illustrations. As a child I used the bag to deliver newspapers that I wrote. I would deliver it to my family members. So apparently, I have wanted to write newspapers and books since I was a small child. It is what I was drawn to. I turned those childhood fantasies into reality later when I had a real newspaper career and was a sports editor and news editor for a daily newspaper in Wyoming. I supported myself in high school and college as a “stringer” for the local newspaper writing sports and movie reviews. Now that I have more time I am able to write novels which I have wanted to do for years.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

When I’m in “the zone” seriously working on a novel, I like to write regularly for several hours each day. I often run out of gas before I run out of enthusiasm. When I’m writing I also think a lot about the characters, plot points and storylines. I also find that I have to back off sometimes and not push it too hard. It is a creative process and sometimes I need to take a couple of days off, to not only recharge but also to think about what I’m writing. I love the moments of discovery that come that way.

For instance, I have gone for a run outside and during my jog imagined whole blocks of dialogue. That is really fun when that happens.

What is this book about?

The story jumps from the 60s and 70s in San Francisco to the present day, which I defined as 1999 in Seattle. I found the turn of the century a fascinating time. There was so much fear and uncertainty due to Y2K and several other pressures on society. This seemed to be the perfect backdrop for characters dealing with the uncertainty of their own life. It is a story of lost love. Dan loses his high school sweetheart and then they are re-united much later in their life. They wonder if their love can be reignited. The story explores many of the ‘what-ifs’ of life that we all face. If I would have made this decision instead of the one I made, how could my life be different?

What inspired you to write it?

I’ve always loved to write. Now at this point in my life I have the opportunity. I have been writing and in the newspaper business since high school.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I am self publishing but I would like to have an agent.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Self publishing is a rocky road and you have to be persistent and patient.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I have learned a lot about writing and publishing. I am more certain about what I want in the design and structure of my book. I also continue to refine my writing skills.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

It is available on line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

All of the links to purchase my book are on my web site  I also have the latest news about my books and writing on my blog.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

This is the link to my book trailer on You Tube  

What is up next for you?

I have just completed my third novel The Illusion of Certainty. I am really excited about it. It has two parallel stories which come together at the end. A common theme is that the only certain thing in our lives is that there will be uncertainty. I think this theme and the characters in this novel are very much a product of the uncertain times in which we live.

Is there anything you would like to add?

My high school journalism teacher was one of my real favorites. She really encouraged me in my writing and got me to enter a writing contest. Her name was Mrs. Drew Robinson. I have no idea where she is now. When she was my teacher she was probably in her early thirties and when I see a yearbook picture of her now, she is really pretty. She convinced me that I was a writer. I base a character in Expiation, who I call “Mrs. Robinson” on her.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Greg. We wish you continued success.

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