According to the book’s description, the story is about “murder, drugs, suicide, sin, redemption, and love.”
“It’s everything,” said Gehl of his novel. “There’s a little parody in it, a little satire in it, and a little humor, but it’s also a serious book with murder in it.”
Gehl said he’s wanted to write his novel for a long time.
“I was involved in various other activities that squeezed out normal writing,” he says. “I just had to wait for due time, and the due time came and I wrote the novel.”
The story follows Margarita Moreno, a 29-year-old woman who was born in Puerto Rico.
Gehl calls Moreno “A good little character in this book.”
“I love them all,” Gehl says of his characters.
Gehl especially finds one of his minor characters entertaining, a girl named Devlin.
“It’s an exaggerated character, but I think she’s a hoot,” Gehl said.
After eight years as an NYPD officer in the Bronx, Moreno joins the police force of a small Southern city known as Wisdom.
“My oldest brother was a New York detective. He was much older than I, and I grew up hearing his stories about police work in New York,” Gehl said.
Much of the novel’s action takes place in the city.
According to the book description, Canton is “close to the fictional city of Wisdom.”
In fact, as Gehl says, “Wisdom is a little town on top of Canton, if you can imagine that.”
To complement the novel’s serious matter and provide some comic relief, Gehl also includes comic violence and crazy characters, along with what readers have called “hilarious, absurd dialogue.”
One such humorous incident involves the minor character.
Gehl’s sense of humor comes through when talking with him. He calls the work room in his house “the truth-telling room.”
Gehl likens his novel to a work by Shakespeare because of the complex intertwining of serious topics with more comical content and dialogue.
“Shakespeare is complicated with the comedy and tragedy all mixed up, so why not compare yourself to the best, and I compare myself to Shakespeare that way,” he said.
Two other writers Gehl admires are the famous English authors Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh.
Greene especially seems to have served as a model for Gehl’s novel, with its mixing of serious and comic elements.
“He wrote books that were mostly serious but included a lot of comedy,” Gehl says. “He wrote mainly thrillers, so I think I’m in his tradition of writing.”
Gehl has previously produced two plays on Atlanta stages.
“They were both down in small spaces, and I don’t think either of the spaces exist. One was a space that used to be called Colony Square “Thank You for Shopping at Everyman’s,” a comedy that was very well-received.
The other play, titled “Henry Ford is Looking for a Better World,” was a more serious, historical play about the automobile pioneer.
While working at Georgia Tech as director of computing services, Gehl also hosted his own radio talk show on the local station WCNN-AM. Collaborating with CNN Radio, the show was about computer technology advances.
With a religious bent, Gehl hopes his story will teach readers about being redeemed of sins.
“My goal is to get untold wealth,” Gehl remarks with characteristic humor.
“Occasions of Sin” can be ordered directly from the publisher at www.authorhouse.com. The typical ordering time is seven-10 business days.
Suggested retail prices are $16.95 for paperback, $27.99 for hard cover and $3.99 as an e-book.