Guest Post: Location, Location, Location by Greg Messel

We had a little mix-up with the guest post yesterday, but I’m happy to welcome author Greg Messel to the blog today to talk about where he gets his ideas! Pull up a chair and grab a scone…

I’m often asked by friends or readers
of my books—“where do you get the ideas for your stories?” I
even wonder that myself sometimes. Part of it is how writers observe

When I am in restaurants, or riding
the ferry, or in any public place, I like to observe how people
interact and it is interesting to overhear their conversations. I do
that not to be a snoop but so I can think about their dialogue. I
guess that’s the writer in me.

I also observe events and wonder what
the story is behind what I’m seeing. By my home in the Seattle area
is the terminal where one of the main Puget Sound ferries docks. One
day I saw a young man, with an anxious look on his face, standing
near the terminal holding a bouquet of flowers. I thought that there
must be a story there.

Soon, I saw a pretty young woman
depart the ferry and come running towards the young man with the
flowers. She put her arms around him and kissed him. He presented the
flowers to her. I wondered what their story was.

I thought of them when I wrote a
chapter in my novel “Expiation” where the two lovers meet one
another at the ferry terminal. Here’s what I wrote in Chapter 9 of

On Thursday evening, I excitedly went to the harbor and waited for Katie. I felt my heart pounding when the lights of the ferry came into view as it approached the dock. There were a lot of people disembarking. I searched for her in all of the confusion. There were cars and trucks driving off, and a large crowd of people walking off the covered ramps. I positioned myself so I hopefully wouldn’t miss her. Then I saw Katie, wearing a bright blue rain jacket, carrying a small overnight bag and a small piece of luggage slung over her shoulder.

We rushed towards each other.
We said nothing and she began smothering me with kisses as soon as we could touch one another. It was as if the missing part of my soul had just arrived.

I use real locations in my books. I
think it makes it so much more realistic and interesting.

One of the settings for the lovers in
“Expiation” is the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. Recently I
was driving through Ballard with some friends. I pointed out the
restaurant where the two main characters, Katie and Dan, were
reunited—Lombardi’s in Ballard. I pointed out several locations
as we drove through Ballard where key scenes in “Expiation”
occurred. My friends seemed amazed and said, “So this is real?”
My answer was that I really try to make it that way.

At a recent book signing in Seattle, a
woman approached me and picked up “Expiation” to read the summary
on the back. She said, “I have to buy this book. My name is Katie
and I’m from Ballard.”

Sometime writing can be like real
estate. It’s location, location, location.

Check out my books “Sunbreaks” and
“Expiation” at
Also coming this summer is my third book, “The Illusion of

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One comment on “Guest Post: Location, Location, Location by Greg Messel

  1. Shay Fabbro

    Wicked awesome post!

    I totally agree and I do the same thing when I am out and about. Long lines are especially good places to observe people. It keeps my mind occupied, and soon I am filing away little tidbits, nuances, expressions, etc that I can use in one of my own characters. And I love that authors can take their home town or perhaps a town they visited that they really loved and bring it to life for a reader. It’s more fun when they are from that town and can really relate to the scenery and roads and such 🙂 I tend to use made up names for businesses just to avoid the possibility of copyright/name issues but I do use street names, neighborhood names, amazing local scenery (I am from Grand Jct, CO so we have a LOT), and places I frequented as a kid.