What are five things you keep in mind while writing your story?

  1. I want it to be a book that I myself would be interested in reading.

  2. It’s important that the characters are likable. I think readers really do like the characters in my mystery series.

  3. Since it’s a mystery, the clues have to make sense and there has to be suspense.

  4. I love romance in the story. Sam and Amelia’s love story is always interesting.

  5. I want the writing to be interesting and good dialogue, which is always a challenge. I want to transport readers back into 1958 San Francisco.

If you could have one super power, what would that be?

I would love to be able to transport myself instantly to another place. I love the modes of travel in the Harry Potter books. I’m not sure I could handle the brooms because I’m afraid of heights. I would really like to be instantly transported and avoid long car trips and plane rides.


What legacy would you like to leave to the world?

I mentioned my novels about the healing power of love—that’s important to me. When I’m gone I hope I’m remembered as someone who was kind and loving. There certainly needs to be more patience and understanding in the world right now.


How many books do you plan to write in the Sam Slater Mystery series?

I’m well on my way to writing book number four. I’m planning a fifth book. That will likely be the conclusion of the series. I’m sure I will write other books after that. I’m very sad to think of leaving behind the characters in the mystery series.


Is there a message in your Sam Slater novels that you want readers to grasp?

I have a theme throughout all of my books about the healing power of love in our lives. Sam Slater has had some real tragedy in his life but when he meets and falls in love with Amelia, it completely changes his outlook and his life.


What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

How much am I like Sam Slater? He’s tall, very handsome, mid-thirties and popular with the ladies. Sam’s also pretty tough. He’s a war hero and a professional baseball player. He’s all the things I would like to be but mostly I’m not. I wouldn’t mind having a girlfriend like Amelia either.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I’m continually fascinated about how people meet and fall in love. It is amazing to me that anyone ever gets through all of the obstacles and becomes a couple. I think there’s a theme through all of my books, including the mysteries, how love brings a healing into individual’s lives.    I have loved writing the mysteries and the suspenseful stories.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love the actual writing. I heard J.K. Rowling describe her favorite time as being when the characters live only in your head. I agree with that. At that stage I can retreat to my own private little world with my characters and it’s just me and them. There comes a time when you then release them into the public domain and everyone can express their opinion about your private world that you’ve created. It’s is a wonderful process to do that. Of course, there is nothing better than after your book becomes public to have readers tell you how much they enjoy your book. That’s the ultimate payment.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?

I retired from the corporate world and now spend full time writing my novels.

How did it feel to have your first book published?

It was amazing to see the complete trip from my imagination to holding a book in my hand. I'll never forget how it felt to walk into a Borders store or a Costco and see large banners about my books. Then I signed copies for readers. My book signing in Los Angeles at the UCLA campus for the LA Festival of Books was quite a rush.

What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

I do like mysteries. I've always been a fan of Sue Grafton's books and of P.D.James. I like that type of mystery and I don't like some of the harsh, violent serial killer type books. I respect those authors and have some friends who write those books. It's just not what I prefer. I do like gritty police novels like Michael Connelly writes.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

I live on Puget Sound just north of downtown Seattle. I love to run each day along the waterfront. I also like to take walks on the beach with my wife. I'm an avid movie fan and go to at least one a week. My goal is to always see everything that will be nominated for an Oscar.

Follow up question, what do you “hate” with regards to writing if there is one?

I enjoy writing more than anything. I’m always fighting self doubt. I’m happy with the story and characters but hope others will like it too.

If you were to have a luncheon with 5 authors (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

I loved the recent Woody Allen movie “MidnightinParis.” It is almost the fantasy of having lunch with five literary heroes. I would like to talk with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael Connelly, and I’ve really grown to like Jennifer Weiner. I would love to talk to Ernest Hemingway but I would imagine it to be scary and intimidating. I loved my recent visit toHannibal,Missouri. It would be great to spend some time with Mark Twain.

Who are your literary heroes?

I am in absolute awe of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” It is a long, long novel but worth the trip. It is a true masterpiece.

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.

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.

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.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

Definitely night. I’ve never liked having to get up early in the morning.

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.

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.

Do you have any advice for (new) writers?

I don’t mean to offend any fellow writers but do we really need another book about vampires or serial killers? I’m speaking as a reader in this case. I’ve had enough of those two story lines for a while even though there are some good books about both. New writers should find a unique story to tell. Bring your life’s experiences into your characters. Launch into something different. I would also suggest to new writers that they follow their own inner voice and instincts and don’t worry about how it will be received.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

I love seals. I see seals out in the water where I live in Seattle. Seals always look like they are having fun.

What is your favorite movie?

That’s a tough question for me because I’m a real movie buff and there are so many that I love. “Casablanca” is a cut above them all however. I love the romance of it and dire circumstances that the characters are trying to cope with. There are so many classic lines from that movie as well. If I had to pick one movie to be stranded on a desert island with it would be “Casablanca.”

How would you spend your last day on earth?

I just saw the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” I really liked that movie and have been thinking about that question. I think I would want to spend some last moments with the people who matter most to you. The love you have with your family and a few special friends is the only thing that matters much. You could definitely cut loose and eat whatever you want. I found the reactions in that movie by some of the characters to the end of the world very interesting. I laughed when I saw some people having garage sales and other people buying stuff at garage sales. Hmmm.

Did you outline before you wrote your books or did you just go with the flow?

I do make an outline. I start with some story ideas and then begin to slowly flesh it out. Then I make an outline as kind of a road map to follow as the story unfolds. I am not restricted by the outline however. It always changes as the story evolves. My favorite part of writing is when the story evolves as you write. It goes in directions that you didn't originally imagine. I follow an outline but not to the point where creativity is restricted.

Do you have any rituals you follow when writing?

When I’m writing I like to listen to music. It seems to help me escape into the world of my characters. My wife is amazed that I can sit down and start writing and it just pours out. It actually doesn’t just pour out. I’ve been thinking of plots points and dialogue for months before I actually write.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

It is a combination of both. Each character is made up of parts of people I know. The characters are from my imagination but there are portions of real people in each one of them. I have become acutely aware of this in my own writing. Joseph Wambaugh and Michael Connelly write about cops, John Grisham writes about lawyers…I guess I write about people I know.

© 2017 by Greg Messel. All rights reserved.