Greg Messel grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Edmonds, Washington, on the Puget Sound with his wife, Carol. San Francisco Secrets is his sixth novel and is the third in a new series of Sam Slater mystery novels. Greg has lived in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Utah and has worked as a reporter, columnist and news editor for a daily newspaper. Find out more at his website.
Thanks for this interview! In a nutshell, what is your book about?
Private eye Sam Slater and his partner-fiancee Amelia Ryan are tracking a ruthless blackmailer in 1958 San Francisco. Amelia, as a stewardess, must also cope with the challenges of the work environment for women in the 1950s, including being hotly pursued by a womanizing pilot.
Do you want to share with us a short excerpt from your current work?
There is a sequence when Sam is trying to follow the suspected blackmailer on a foggy night on the San Francisco waterfront. Here’s the excerpt:
“Sam began to walk slowly back down the long pier towards the Embarcadero until he disappeared into the fog. The man with the silencer followed just far enough behind Sam to be obscured by the fog. As Sam walked down the pier, he heard the click of someone’s shoes directly behind him on the pavement. It seemed close. Sam stopped and listened. The sound of the footsteps stopped. Sam resumed walking slowly down the pier and heard the footsteps resume again. When Sam quickened his pace, the rapidity of the footfalls behind him also accelerated. He stopped again. Sam put his hand inside his coat on his holster and turned to look back. He could see no one in the fog. The only sound he could hear was the droning of the foghorn on the Golden Gate Bridge which had now disappeared from view.”
What are five things do 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.
Why should readers buy your book?
This book is the third in the mystery series but it is written to be a stand-alone novel. I feel it really does takes the reader to a different time and place. San Francisco in the 1950s in a very interesting place. There plenty of mystery and romance. I had one reviewer say that it is mystery “done old school.” I consider that a great compliment. I picture my book as a good old black and white movie.
What compelled you to write and share your voice with the world?
I’ve always been a writer and have worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. My launch as a novelist came after I wrote a couple of memoirs about my life and my mother and father in law’s life during World War II while living in Washington D.C. After writing the memoirs, I began thinking of other stories I could tell. I began with my first novel, Sunbreaks, which awakened a whole new creative process. I’ve now written six novels and am working on a seventh, which will be out later this year.
What genres do you read? Which do you enjoy writing in?
I have written three novels about the challenges of falling in love in today’s world. I find it fascinating that people can get through all the debris and confusion and find someone to love. I don’t consider those books to be romance novels but stories about the healing power of love in people’s lives. I have now written three mystery-romances set in San Francisco in the 1950s. I love a good mystery. I enjoy reading and writing such stories. I like a mystery that shuns much of the gross violence and depravity found in some popular books.
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.