Name: Verlin Darrow
Book Title: Blood and Wisdom
Genre: PI mystery
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
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Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Verlin: 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. Thirty years later, my ever-evolving career has produced Blood and Wisdom.
Is this your first book?
Verlin: No, it’s the third one I’ve had published, but the others were twenty years ago, using a different name. This one feels almost as if it were a debut novel, and it’s much better written.
With this particular book, how did you publish—traditional, small press, Indie, etc. —and why did you choose this method?
Verlin: I tried to find an agent and didn’t even get close, so I expanded my search to independent publishers who accepted submissions directly from authors. I hit pay dirt immediately, but a little research showed me that this first option was likely to end up with typos and a dreary, derivative cover. Then Wild Rose wanted me and I wanted them, and here we are.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Verlin: The novel I was peddling before this one was a stubborn, epic journey to the heart of frustration. I queried over five hundred agents! (Yes, worldwide, over five hundred agents consider thrillers). I simply refused to accept that my project wasn’t marketable. I tried changing the title, the query letter, renaming the characters, and everything else I could think of. It was like having a weird, unenjoyable hobby for a year or so. What did I learn from this? Let that one go and write Blood and Wisdom—produce something that people wanted to read.
The pros for me: it’s deeply satisfying to finish projects, if I don’t create, I’m not happy, and validation from the industry offsets a lot of heartache.
The cons: the time-consuming nature of trying to attract attention for a project, the drudgy parts of writing itself, and the anticlimax of having my book in my hand (as of yesterday, as I write this), and still not entering a state of permanent bliss.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Verlin: The market dictates what level you enter into its world. I needed to accept that an agent and/or a big house wasn’t interested in the likes of me, and move on to who was.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Verlin: So far, so good. My publisher has treated me well and provided professional editing and cover art. They’re not set up to do promotional or publicity work, so I have to muster that on my own. My route is probably not the best way to maximize income, but that’s okay with me.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Verlin: Write a lot. Then write some more. My skills only improved through lots and lots of words. And put your ego to the side when you receive feedback.
About the book:
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…