Welcome back to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Greg!
How long have you been a writer?
In a sense all of my life. I wrote for my high school newspaper and was the sports editor during my senior year. I also had a part time job as a stringer for the local newspaper in the Bay Area to support myself during high school and college. I covered sports, news events and even wrote movie reviews. Later in my life I fulfilled my dream of being a newspaperman. I worked for a daily newspaper in Wyoming and became the news editor. I did that for several years. I've always loved writing and feel it came naturally to me. Newspaper reporting is different than writing novels for sure but I've surprised myself in making the transition.
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.
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
Besides the items I mentioned earlier in my life, I decided to write a memoir of my life and of my wife's. The process of writing those memoirs, which I wrote in the style of novels, seemed to prime the pump and get me launched into being a novelist. It took a while to feel my way in writing my first book Sunbreaks. I have a real soft spot for that book even though I don't think it is my best novel. After Sunbreaks I kept going. I've now published five novels and I am working diligently on my sixth which should be out next year.
Please give a brief description/storyline about Deadly Plunge.
My protagonist is Sam Slater, a former San Francisco Seals baseball player turned private investigator. Sam is hired to find out why a rich, politically-well connected San Francisco man, Arthur Bolender, suddenly ended his life by plunging off of the Golden Gate Bridge. All those who know Arthur say unequivocally that he did not commit suicide. However, Bolender's body was found floating in San Francisco Bay and his car was abandoned in the traffic lane of the bridge. Meanwhile, Sam's romance with glamorous TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan continues to blossom and deepen. She is now his secret fiancee-secret because the airline has rules that stewardess must be young and single women. Amelia also eagerly helps Sam solve his cases when she's in town. The key to unraveling the mystery seems to be a strange old Victorian-style house. Bolender's widow, a rich, seductive socialite named Maggie Bolender, was not even aware that her husband owned the house. Sam and Amelia are plunged into a world of political secrets and encounter some dangerous people. The creeps who are using this mysterious house will do anything to protect their secrets including kidnapping Amelia.
What was the inspiration for this story?
San Francisco in the 1950s is a rich and colorful place. It's an interesting time just before the world really changes. This summer I tested my wife's patience by driving all over San Francisco refreshing my memories about locales in city that I wanted to use in Deadly Plunge. I was walking around by Coit Tower, I drove up to the huge, gorgeous houses in Pacific Heights where Maggie Bolender lives, and drove around the Mission District where Sam and Amelia live. I remember what some of the areas used to be like but I use research to fill in the blanks. I also followed the walking paths near the Palace of Fine Arts where one of the murders occurred.
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.
Do you write books for a specific genre?
My first three books were love stories--not romance novels--but stories about finding and losing love. I still think one of the most interesting aspects of the human experience is how people find one another and fall in love. In all three of those books, an overarching theme is the healing power of love. I had been searching for a group of characters that I could use in a continuing series of mystery or detective books. I think I have found them and hope readers agree.
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.
Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?
I have a desk that looks out a second story window on the street in front of my condo building. I love to sit there, especially on rainy fall or winter days in Seattle, watching the rainy scene, listening to music and writing my novels.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
I do think a lot about my story before I begin writing. My wife is amazed that I sit down and just start typing chapters. But what she doesn't know is that I've been thinking about those chapters for weeks. Finally it's ready to come tumbling out of you and you actually become anxious to write it down before it goes away. Especially with mysteries I spend a lot of time contemplating different twists and turns. Sometimes if I get stuck, I find it helps to back off for a couple of days and let it develop a little more in your mind.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
I have made notes in the middle of the night when I get an idea. I also like to run and I've had some great ideas for scenes and dialogue that hit me while I'm running. Generally, I try to spend the afternoon writing. Once I get rolling I can usually write a chapter in a couple of days -- as far as the first draft. Then after the first draft I spend a lot of time, tweaking things, polishing dialogue and making sure it flows well.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I like to write dialogue but I also struggle a lot to make sure it is realistic and well written. That is not easy. I also have to adjust the dialogue in my mysteries to things people would say and not say in the 1950s. I love the historical research of the time and place that I do to try to provide an interesting backdrop for the story. Atmospherics are very important to me to catch the flavor of San Francisco in the 1950s.
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.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
I went to a writers conference and got the advice to let your writing be more organic and spontaneous. Meaning just let the story come out of you. I love that part of writing and it is a real thrill when your story takes a turn that you had not anticipated. That happened to me in Deadly Plunge. I thought I was done but then I got an idea. I rewrote the entire last third of the book to include the plot about the stalker who is pursuing Amelia. I think that really strengthens the story.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
When you finish your book and you are really happy with the results. It's somewhat nerve racking waiting to see if readers agree. I'm getting more confident about my writing that I'm not so fragile in that area.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
I'm very accessible on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and my blog. I get notes from all over the world which is wonderful.
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
My earlier books- Sunbreaks, Expiation and The Illusion of Certainty -definitely are based on some real life experiences. Last of the Seals and Deadly Plunge spring from my memories of growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was a child in the late 1950s there and my parents lived in the same world as Sam and Amelia and the other characters in my mysteries.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
I really like the consistently good writings of Michael Connelly, Pat Conroy and Sue Grafton. I got to meet Michael Connelly, Mary Higgins Clark and Sue Grafton at the Los Angeles Festival of Books when I was there signing copies of Sunbreaks. It was a huge thrill.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
I would like to have my writing sustain itself. Sales are important. I think anyone who says otherwise, unless you are some curmudgeon like Cormac McCarthy (whom I love by the way), is not being truthful. Sales not only will get you money but also show that people are buying your book. It is a tremendous pay back when I get notes or tweets from readers who tell you that they really enjoyed your book. It is a lot of work to write a book, design it, market it and it is wonderful when it is well received.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I'm writing San Francisco Secrets which will be the third book in the mystery series set in San Francisco in the 1950s. It is a continuation of the story which began in Last of the Seals and Deadly Plunge but it is a stand-alone novel. In San Francisco Secrets Sam Slater is trying to track down a blackmailer who is trying to extort money from a prominent doctor in San Francisco. Meanwhile, there are some surprising developments in his relationship with TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan. She is now is a stewardess on international routes and we follow her adventures in New York City, London, Paris and Rome. I'm very excited about the story and look forward to finishing it. I have quite a few plots lines to resolve but that's the fun part.
Thank you Greg for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing a bit of yourself and your writing career with us!
About The Author
Greg 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 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.
Greg Messel ~ Deadly Plunge ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours
Deadly Plunge - Trailer
Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing
Publication Date: October 8, 2012
Format: Paperback - 406 pages / Kindle - 4321 KB / Nook - 4 MB
BUY THE BOOK: Deadly Plunge
BUY THE SERIES: Sam Slater Mystery Series
Last of the Seals - Book 1
Deadly Plunge - Book 2
San Francisco Secrets - Book 3 *coming soon!*
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.
My Book Review:
In Deadly Plunge, former baseball player turned private investigator Sam Slater is back with a new case to investigate. Sam and his TWA stewardess / girlfriend Amelia Ryan are hired by the widow of Arthur Bolender, a wealthy and politically connected San Francisco man, to find out why he plunged to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Set in 1958 San Francisco and told in the third person narrative, author Greg Messel once again weaves another tale of romance, mystery and suspense, with a twist of political and international intrigue added into the mix. As Sam and Amelia investigate the questionable death of Mr. Bolender, they come across a secret old Victorian-style house that he owned, where clandestine activities occurred and leads them into a dangerous world of political and international intrigue. Their discovery causes serious complications that could have deadly results. And if that isn't enough to whet your appetite, Sam and Amelia's relationship has blossomed into a secret engagement. Can Sam and Amelia solve the mystery of Arthur Bolender's deadly plunge? Will Sam and Amelia survive the international danger from this investigation?
Rich in detail and vivid descriptions of authentic 1958 Cold War political and international time period and San Francsico setting; with a cast of characters who are interesting and draw the reader into their lives; and a riveting storyline that has intrigue, suspense, twist and turns, and a steamy romance; Deadly Plunge will captivate your imagination and keep you guessing what will happen next. I really enjoy the author's style of writing, he engages the reader with his detailed descriptive writing, and weaves a gripping story that has a nice balance of mystery and romance that keeps the reader turning the pages.
Deadly Plunge is the second book in the Sam Slater Mystery Series, but can be read as a stand alone story. The author does reference characters and storyline plots from Last of the Seals, the first book in the series in the second book, but he interweaves them so smoothly that the reader won't get lost or feel like they have missed anything. However, I would recommend that you follow the sequence of the books in the series, because once you have been drawn into Sam Slater's latest investigative adventures, you will be hooked and want to follow him onto his next adventure!
RATING: 4 STARS ****