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Interview with Greg Messell, Author of The Illusion of Certainty: A Modern Romance

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Greg Messel is the author of three novels and three unpublished memoirs. His first novel, Sunbreaks, was published in 2009 and was followed in 2010 by Expiation.  His latest novel, The Illusion of Certainty, was published in 2011.  

In addition to being an author, Greg has also had an extensive career as a newspaper columnist, sportswriter and news editor.  He was the recipient of a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist.  After spending years as a Financial Manager in the corporate world, he now focuses his energy on being an author and writing at his home in Edmonds, Washington.  .

Thank you for this interview, Greg. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’ve really been writing since I was in high school when I was the sports editor and a columnist for my high school newspaper. At that time I also wrote sports and movie reviews for my hometown daily newspaper in Concord, California.  I had a newspaper career in Rock Springs, Wyoming after college. I was a reporter and then the news editors of a daily newspaper. I have been writing pretty much full time since I retired from corporate life in 2008.

Do you write full-time?

I’m always working on a project. Right now I deciding which novel I want to write this winter. I have lots of ideas but I think I’m almost settled on which story will be my next book. Meanwhile, I will be actively promoting The Illusion of Certainty, which really just came out and also my second book, Expiation. Both are doing reasonably well.

You’ve met an old friend from high school and you want to pitch your book to him/her in five minutes or less. What would you say?

Ironically, I just returned from a trip to California where I was reunited with my best friend from high school. Over dinner he did ask me what my new book was about. The Illusion of Certainty is two parallel stories about individuals who are struggling with those unexpected events which can suddenly upend your life. One of the main characters is Marc, a very successful businessman, who lives in an upscale neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. He seems to have it all except there is something wrong. His wife seems very aloof to him. The second story thread involves Alexandra Mattson, a successful young attorney, who seems to have met the love of her life, a young policeman named Sean. There is a feeling amongst the characters that they are in control of the events of their lives. However, the recurring theme is that the certainty we think we have in our lives in only an illusion.

Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?

My books are about the struggle of human relationships and the healing power in love in people’s lives. Therefore, my books seem to appeal to women primarily. I have had men say, “I usually don’t read these kinds of books but I liked your book.”

Why did you choose your particular genre?

In a way, the genre has chosen me. I wrote the stories I had inside of me and they have emerged as historical romance books. I’m feeling more comfortable with that genre, even though my next book may be a change of genres.

Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?

All of the time. You really wonder if all of the pain of writing is worth it. Is it worthwhile? Will I ever be successful? But I can’t help myself. I love to write. I plan to continue. Sometimes I am really pleased with my writing and my books. Other times I sink into self doubt and wonder if they are really that good. I am comforted that many readers seem to like my books and The Illusion of Certainty has been getting a very good reception so far.

Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?

I live in Edmonds, a small, quaint maritime community located just north of downtown Seattle and on Puget Sound. I write at my desk which has a window that looks out on downtown Edmonds. It is fun to watch all of the activity on a given day. I like to write in the winter when the rainy weather has settled in on the Seattle area. These rainy days in Seattle are great days to write while I’m looking out my window.

What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?

I do a lot of research because all of my books, especially The Illusion of Certainty and Expiation, are set against the backdrop of historical events. The Illusion of Certainty takes place in the last five years of the previous decade. The story is directly impacted by the economic downturn in 2008 and the continuing fallout which introduces much uncertainty into people’s lives. I am working on a new novel which takes place in 1957 in San Francisco. I am researching extensively right now about the events which occurred in 1957 and what life was like.

Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?

I’m self published with Yorkshire Publishing. The Illusion of Certainty is my first book with Yorkshire and I’ve been very pleased so far. I think it is a quality product, well edited and designed. Prior to that, I self-published two books with Trafford Publishing. I welcome the editorial input from my editors at both Trafford and Yorkshire. It really helps.

How are you promoting your book thus far?

I am doing virtual book tours and have been heavily involved in the promotion via the social network such as Facebook and Twitter. We recently ran a contest to launch the EBook edition of The Illusion of Certainty on Amazon.

If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?

I think you have to promote your book in a wide variety of ways. Authors would love to see their book on bookstore shelves but I actually think that is not where the action is any longer. I have concluded that I don’t care if my book is in a bookstore or not, especially if that bookstore is not actively promoting the book. I’ve had several book signings and I thoroughly enjoy those events. In reality, indie authors should concentrate their efforts in the on-line arena.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a story which occurs in 1957 in San Francisco. It involves a baseball player who’s at the end of his career. He is transitioning to life as a private investigator as a partner with his old Army buddy from World War II. A young woman who is a stewardess on an airline comes into his life. I’m hoping that the main character will appear in a series of crime and mystery novels. I’m very excited about this new challenge.

Thank you for this interview, Greg. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter. You can seee my out there but the best place to see what is going on with me, my books, and writing is at www.gregmessel.com

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