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Interview: Greg Messel, Author of Last of the Seals

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Greg Messel has written four novels and three unpublished memoirs.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.

Mr. Messel 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 Messel 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.

Readers can learn more about Greg Messel and his work by visiting the following links:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Amazon Author Page

Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?

The year is 1957 in San Francisco. Sam Slater is a lifetime minor league baseball player for the San Francisco Seals. The Seals have just one more season left as San Francisco is about to become a major league city. The Giants are coming to town in 1958, and the Seals will be displaced. Sam has come to the end of his baseball career and is going to join the private detective agency of his best friend. When his friend is brutally murdered, Sam must go it alone and try to find out why. Along the way he is swept off of his feet by a beautiful Elvis-obsessed TWA stewardess named Amelia Ryan. Sam and Amelia try to unravel the mystery together. Sam’s best friend, Jimmy, inadvertently saw something he shouldn’t have. Sam and Amelia have pictures in their possession that have crime families in San Francisco and Chicago very worried. Then a young woman Sam has been searching for is found dead on the beach. Suddenly, Sam and Amelia find themselves in danger.

How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?

The title comes from the final year for the San Francisco Seals and Sam is at the end of his career. It makes him personally the “last of the Seals.” The team ceased to exist after 1957 as well. I used pictures of the time period from the San Francisco Historical Society. I think it added to the nostalgic feel I was trying to achieve. I did work with the cover designer, and they sought my input. I was very happy right out of the gate with the cover design.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book?

There’s a scene in my book when the former Seals player and the main character in Last of the Seals, Sam Slater, goes to Seals Stadium to clean out his locker for the last time. Sam is at first reluctant to take many keepsakes of his years with the Seals. Then he is given a piece of advice by the clubhouse manager who is urging him to keep his old baseball jerseys as a remembrance of his time as a player.

The clubhouse manager says in Chapter 21, “There’s a tendency to just want to close the door and move on now. It’s natural. It hurts too much to lose what we’ve had. But Sammy, some day you’re going to have a son who won’t know that his daddy was a Seal. That little boy won’t know about the special things his dad was able to do. Your son needs to see that his daddy was part of a magical time. You could show him this stuff and let him feel a little of the magic.”

What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?

I spend a lot of time interacting and promoting my books on my blog, Facebook and Twitter. I think Twitter in particular has been a very interesting experience for me. It’s amazing to get Tweets from Europe or somewhere far, far away, saying that they enjoyed my book. I also have enjoyed book signings and have spoked at a few book clubs.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I find a few hours each afternoon to write. I’ve been really busy with my writing recently. I like to go to my office which in the the second story and looks out on the street where I live. That’s where I sit down and start writing. It’s especially good when I do that on rainy Seattle winter days. It’s a great time and atmosphere for writing.

What are some ways that you like to relax?

I really enjoy writing. I also am an avid runner and love taking runs along the shores of Puget Sound. It’s so beautiful and really renews you.

What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?

I think many indie authors are overlooked. There are some poorly edited, low quality books in the self published realm. However, there are also some wonderful, fresh books deserve some attention. It is so hard to overcome the overwhelming noise out there to get noticed. I rub shoulders with some really talented indie writers every day who have self published books.

What author would you most like to meet and why?

I did get to meet Michael Connelly and Sue Grafton and thought they were wonderful. I would like to meet Pat Conroy. I’m a great admirer of his books.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?

I’m planning to make Last of the Seals the first in a series of mysteries with Sam Slater and Amelia Ryan. I have a good first draft of the next book, Deadly Plunge. I plan to publish it at the end of the year. I am diligently working on the outline for the third book San Francisco Secrets and have a few chapters completed. I hope to publish San Francisco Secrets next summer.

What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?

I didn’t start writing fictional novels until four years ago. Prior to that all of my writing was journalism and newspaper reporting. I never thought I could write a novel based on a fictional world. Many people are surprised that I was able to make that leap.

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