Guest post: "Why Do I Write?" by Mystery Author Verlin Darrow
At first, I was desperate for meaning. That’s what got me started. As a depressed young adult, fraught with existential angst and across the board over-thinking, I was never satisfied by life. I wasn’t in direct contact with the world, so I couldn’t be fed by it. When I created a manuscript, I introduced something into my experience that mattered to me—a new element that penetrated the layers of insulation I’d gathered around myself to stay safe.
However therapeutic, this era of writing was marked by a distinct lack of expertise. When I eventually began to build a skill set, I added in another motive—making money without having to work a regular job—you know, getting all sweaty, being bossed around, keeping regular hours. Not surprisingly, I failed to manage anything close to making a living writing. Perhaps I sustain a large-scale writing project as a hobby. Nope. It simply didn’t provide enough reward to motivate me.
Eventually, I had something to say, and the tools to say it. Then the early motives dropped away.
I’ve learned to appreciate the glorious nature of being with ordinary life experience just as it is—yielding gracefully to it when I can, and always being mindful to whatever there is to be mindful to. (This is a cure for mood disorders, by the way. Feel anxious about what might happen? Step away from that and orient yourself to the here and now, where the scary future is not happening).
The moment may be sufficient these days, and I may not need to write or generate drunk monkey busy-mindedness to escape it, but nonetheless I feel a continuous urge to create and serve others by adding something meaningful to their moments.
In a sense, I write due to attrition. I tried pretty much everything else and writing survived the process. I was a professional athlete, a storeowner, a spiritual mentor, a singer/songwriter, rich, poor, a Southerner, a New Englander, a Texan, a Californian, an ex-patriate, a factory worker, a road crew laborer, a taxi driver, a carpenter, a world traveler, a hippie, and too many others to list. As I worked my way through what didn’t match who I was—what was based on flawed ideas about myself—I zeroed in on psychotherapy and writing.
They both draw helpful, intriguing, fun things out of me from all levels of my being. Whatever difficulties I’ve endured, I can spread the learning associated with these in both realms. In my work as a therapist, this might entail direct sharing or role modeling. With writing, it’s usually in the background—the settings, a given character’s perspective, or the details of how my protagonist changes over the course of the plot.
Some people really do change, sometimes dramatically, in a short period of time, especially when a conspiracy of dramatic, unexpected events swirl around them as they do in Blood and Wisdom, my new PI mystery.
When Private Investigator Karl Gatlin takes on Aria Piper’s case, it was no more than a threat—phone calls warning Aria to either “stop doing Satan’s work” or meet an untimely demise. But a few hours later, a headless John Doe bobs up in the wishing well at Aria’s New Age spiritual center near Santa Cruz. Aria had ideas about who could be harassing her, but the appearance of a dismembered body makes for a real game changer. And what Karl Gatlin initially thought was a fairly innocuous case turns out to be anything but.
Dispatching former rugby superstar and Maori friend John Ratu to protect Aria, Karl and his hacker assistant Matt are free to investigate a ruthless pastor, a money launderer on the run, some sketchy members of Aria’s flock, and warring drug gangs. With his dog Larry as a wingman, Karl uncovers a broad swath of corruption, identity theft, blackmail, and more murders. But nothing is as it seems, and as the investigation heats up, Karl is framed, chased, and forced to dive into the freezing water of the Monterey Bay to escape a sniper.
Against the backdrop of a ticking clock, Karl races to find answers. But more murders only mean more questions—and Karl is forced to make an impossible choice when it turns out Aria’s secret may be the most harrowing of all…
An intelligent, intense and engaging tale, Blood and Wisdom races from the opening scene to the final page. Brimming with colorful, multi-dimensional characters, wit, humor, and a taut storyline, Blood and Wisdom is filled with twists, turns, and surprises. Novelist Verlin Darrow, a practicing psychotherapist, infuses Blood and Wisdom with fascinating details about psychology and metaphysics, and seamlessly blends elements of hardboiled and softboiled detective fiction. With its original premise, smart plotting, to-die-for redwood-studded coastal Santa Cruz and Big Sur setting, and protagonist like no other, Blood and Wisdom is a pitch-perfect PI novel.
Blood and Wisdom has garnered high advance praise. According to Richard House, MD, author of Between Now and When, "Darrow has a sense of plot and style that carries the reader forward into that special place of anxious expectation, the place where putting the book down is unthinkable. Fascinating.” C.I. Dennis, author of the Vince Tanzi series, including Tanzi’s Luck, praises Blood and Wisdom for its “great pace, fun characters who you care about, plenty of twists, and narrative personality.”
About the Author:
Verlin Darrow is a psychotherapist who was patted on the head by Einstein, nearly blown up by Mt. St. Helens, survived the 1985 8.0 Mexico City earthquake, and, so far, has successfully weathered numerous internal disasters. He lives with his psychotherapist wife in Northern California. They diagnose each other as necessary.