The Story Behind ‘Expiation’ by Greg Messel

One of my life experiences which contributed to the story in “Expiation” was my relationship with my wife. My wife and I were high school sweethearts. I played sports in high school and she was very cute and popular. Then she left the Bay Area, where we both grew up, to go out of state to college. Our relationship held together despite the separation and we have been married for over 40 years. If it had not worked out and we somehow had unexpectedly reunited later in our life and were both single, would we try to rekindle our old romance? Absolutely. I also experienced some of the events during the 60s and 70s in Berkeley and San Francisco. If I wasn’t directly involved in some of the events described, I lived through it and it was part of that atmosphere at the time.

I’ve been to most of the places mentioned in Expiation.  Recently I was driving through Ballard (a Seattle neighborhood where Dan and Katie lived) with some out of town visitors. As I drove through Ballard, I showed them the restaurant where Dan and Katie met, the park where they walked on Christmas Day and Ballard High School. My visitors were amazed and said “wow, this is real.”

It is real. Even though it is a fictional story it is much more realistic if it happens in real places.

I have had a lifetime love of San Francisco. Also, Seattle is one of my favorite places on earth. In both cases, I love the rainy, cool, foggy atmosphere of both cities. I was very happy with cover of “Expiation.” I thought it captured these atmospherics well.

I chose one of my favorite places in San Francisco for a climactic scene in “Expiation” between Dan and Katie. It is Fort Point at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is so beautiful and has an astounding view of the Bay and downtown San Francisco. It is a very romantic place.

I focused on the reuniting events in the plot but I thought it made it more interesting to be occurring against the background of these amazing historical events. There are many flashbacks in “Expiation” but I chose to have the “present day” be the end of 1999 just before Y2K. It was such a time of uncertainty and it is an interesting setting for the uncertainty of trying to reclaim lost love.

One reviewer recently quipped that “Expiation” is one of the first books she has read that deal with Y2K as a backdrop. She wondered if some younger readers may say “what’s Y2K?”

Greg Messel has spent much of his life in the Pacific Northwest living in Portland, Oregon and in the Seattle area since 2008.  He has been married to his wife, Carol, for 40 years.  Greg and Carol were high school sweethearts just like the couple in “Expiation.”  He has lived in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah and Wyoming.  Greg grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from high school there and also attended a year of junior college.  Greg went to Brigham Young University with Carol and then began a newspaper career in rough and tumble Wyoming town of Rock Springs.  Greg and Carol have three married children and nine grandchildren.

Greg has always loved writing.   He worked as the news editor and sports editors of the Daily Rocket-Miner newspaper.  He won a Wyoming Press Association award for his column.  He also submitted and had published articles in various sports magazines.  He left the newspaper business in 1981 and began a 27 year career with Pacific Power.  Greg retired in 2008 and moved to Seattle.

It was there that he returned to his first love of writing.   He has written two unpublished memoirs and published his first novel with Trafford in September 2009.   His first novel was called “Sunbreaks.”   The second novel “Expiation” was published in the spring of 2010 with Trafford.  A third novel is in the works.

Currently, Greg and Carol live on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, just north of downtown Seattle. They have three adult children who are all married and have nine grandchildren.  He also enjoys running, he has been in several races and half marathons.

Visit his website at

Connect with him at Twitter at and Facebook at



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