Gerald W Darnell – Mystery writer – is my guest author today
Today I am pleased to welcome Mystery writer Gerald Darnell to my blog as my special guest.
I’ve asked him to tell us something about himself and his writing.
I was actually born in Florida (where I now live) but grew up in a small West Tennessee town. After graduation from college (University of Tennessee) I joined the working world and remained until my retirement in 2007.
My working role was mostly as an executive for a few Fortune 100 companies, and I spent the last 20 years working with a major computer manufacturer.
But, basically what I did was travel – and I definitely did a lot of that. Out on Monday AM and back on Friday PM – flying around the world. Somehow I managed to find a wonderful woman and made her my wife. And we ‘somehow’ managed to have and raise a wonderful daughter together.
Incidentally, my wife is a school principal so I understand the rules and FOLLOW them well.
I’ve lived in a number of places, going basically where my company told me to go. However, except for a short stint in Boston I managed to remain mostly in the south – Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Florida.
My travels did give me opportunity to read, and I read a lot of books on a lot of airplanes. They are mostly in the attic now, but when I open one an aged boarding pass will usually fall out – reminding of how long it had been since reading the book and where I was going.
Do you think your location (where you live now) is important as a source of inspiration and setting for your work, or doesn’t it matter? Do you find the story finds its own location?
Oddly where I live now has little to do with my writing inspiration – it’s where I lived before. My novels take place in the 1960’s around Memphis, TN and a small southern town, Humboldt. That’s where I grew up.
My character, Carson Reno, has an office in the Memphis Peabody Hotel and manages his Private Detective business from there. In the late 60’s I ALSO had an office in the Memphis Peabody Hotel, so my fiction has a lot of FACT to it…sometimes.
Tell us how you first began writing and why. What first inspired you to write? Was it a life-long urge pushed to the background whilst you earned your way in the world, or have you always written?
My first experience in writing (for money) was penning stories for outdoor magazines. In addition to traveling, I also spent a lot of time in the woods and wilderness – fishing and hunting. It wasn’t much money, but it sure was an experience seeing my name in print for the first time.
Along with reading while traveling around the world, I also kept some pretty good notes about my adventures. One day, 14 years later I decided to organize these notes and put them on paper – this became my first (and only) non-fiction work,
‘Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time to Go’.
How do you describe your writing and genre? Do you think you fit into a particular box or have you created your own?
I definitely write mystery novels, there is no question about that.
I have two series published ‘Carson Reno Mystery Series’ and ‘Jack Sloan Mystery Series’.
The first is about a Private Detective in the 1960’s and the latter is about a ‘down on his luck’ former cop who travels some of the darker areas of Miami and other cities during the late 1990’s.
I call my writing ‘Fiction for Fun’.
I use real places with semi-real characters to tell a story that didn’t happen…but could have.
Who or what inspires you?
Interesting question and I’m not sure of the answer. I write for a hobby and simply enjoy the task.
Getting into a novel and having the characters talk to me is inspiration enough, I guess.
Whose books do you read and do you always read similar genres to your own? If not, why not?
I spoke earlier about my reading habits and I’m sorry to say that I don’t get to do enough of that anymore.
But…yes I would say the majority of the thousands of books I’ve read were in similar genre to what I write today.
Who are your favourite authors and why?
I don’t get to read enough (as I just said). However, I try to keep up with John Grisham – mixing in with James Patterson and Robert Ludlum. No panty waist stories for me – I want my books full of mystery and excitement!
Can you recall the first book as an adult you read?
Agatha Christie ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’
Do you have a brain spewing ideas or does an event set the little grey cells dancing? What kicks an idea into words?
My motto is ‘a little libation never spoiled a book’.
Never really ‘brain spewing’ ideas, but a little bourbon and water tend to move things along faster.
Tell us about the first book you ever had published and how this came about – are you self-published or do you have a publisher?
I have used publishers and I have self-published.
My first book took 14 years to write, so I had plenty of time to think about. Publishers are fine…sometimes. However, gratification or failure can certainly be realized faster with self-publishing.
How many books have you written and do you have a favourite and why?
I have written 15 fiction novels and one non-fiction.
My favourite is my Carson Reno Mystery called ‘the Illegals’.
Not sure why, but I guess because some of the story is closer to real life than I wanted or perhaps because of things that were happening in my personal life while writing it.
Please list your books and a little piece about each.
14 Carson Reno Mystery Series books.
Period set is the 1960’s and the place is Memphis, TN.
Carson is a Private Detective along the lines of Phillip Marlow or Sam Spade.
The books contain humour, period relevant pictures, no graphic violence and no graphic sex. All are PG13 rated.
1 Jack Sloan Mystery novel.
Quite different from Carson Reno, this book contains all the things Carson Reno books don’t!
1 non-Fiction. “Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time to Go’.
A humorous story about me and my adventures in the woods and in the business world.
Do you write in long-hand or are you straight to the computer when working?
Only notes in long-hand, all writing is on the computer.
Do you ever stare at that blank page and wonder what the hell? How do you motivate yourself? How do you work?
As I said earlier, ‘a little libation never spoiled a good book.’
Do you work silence or do you have a soundtrack as you write, and if so whose music do you play?
Mostly silence, but I do enjoy Jazz music sometimes when it fits my mood.
When you get an idea do you have the full story in your head and write from beginning to end, or does your story just spill out as you write without any real idea where it is going? Does it write itself?
Never a full story, my characters take me where they want. Occasionally we will go back and turn left instead of right, but more often than not they know where the story needs to go.
Have you any formal training in writing? Taken classes in Creative Writing for example? If not, would you ever consider it or do you think learning on the job is the best route to take?
No…no and no.
I wasn’t even a good English student in school, but some of my friends tell me that our old High School English teacher would be proud of what she created in me.
If they only knew…
What are your aspirations as an author? Do you want to be a NY Times best-seller or are you writing for your own satisfaction; fame and fortune would be a nice by-product but not your sole motivation?
I write as a hobby, not for fame and fortune.
I have another motto that I like to share with young authors “Don’t write to get rich, write to enrich others’.
Describe your writing day – or do you write at night?
Do you write every day?
I write usually at night and I don’t miss many days at my keyboard.
What are you working on now?
My second Jack Sloan novel, it’s called ‘Ghost.’
I understand you are about to have a new book published?
Pre-released and available for purchase on May 1. It’s called ‘Murder and More’
Good luck with this.
Please provide links and back cover blurb.
Website link http://carsonreno.wix.com/murderandmore
Here is back cover blurb.
Carson’s feud with a local crime reporter continues, and then suddenly the husband of his client is brutally murdered – a husband he’s been hired to investigate. Mysterious characters weave a web of blackmail and suspense, while leaving Carson with more clients than he can handle.
The Memphis police have warned Carson to back off, but an employee of a friend is missing from a murder scene and he’s determined to find her and the killer.
Follow Carson to New Orleans, Humboldt, Memphis and Florida where he chases numerous suspects trying to track down a missing person and the killer he’s been hired to find.
Enjoy this unusual adventure for Carson Reno, as he struggles to solve the case of ‘Murder and More’.
Wow thanks so much.
If you wish, share a couple of paragraphs or a short chapter from one of your books here.
From my most recent book ‘Dead End’
A filthy mixture of snow, ice, Arkansas mud and blood filled my mouth – the gritty mess was making it almost impossible to breathe. Eyes still closed, and trying not to choke, I rolled my head to the left and spit the nauseating mixture onto the bright snow. Apparently my nose was broken, because after relieving my mouth of the irritation, it quickly filled with the warm and sweet taste of blood – my blood. Oddly, despite the trauma of the last few minutes, my thoughts and head were remarkably clear – making me wonder if I might be in the early stages of shock – I’d never been there before.
Silence was everywhere, only disturbed by the sound of light snow falling, and thankfully covering my dry lips. I licked at the welcome moisture and slowly opened my eyes – not knowing what I might see.
A fuzzy grey sky, white falling snow and fading daylight stared back at me – looking down at where I lay – in a dirty, wet ditch, somewhere in Arkansas.
The human body is a smart and complex machine. When any of the five senses aren’t working properly, it directs another to pick up the slack. Without sound or vision, my suffering nose was receiving input about my current situation and relaying that information to the brain – it didn’t like what it was hearing! The smells of burning rubber, radiator fluid, raw gasoline and the heat associated with a crashed car engine were reminding me of why I was in this ditch and why my mouth was full of blood – the real world was coming back and it wasn’t pretty!
Our getaway was cut short by the wrong turn down a dead-end road – but pursuers had left us no choice. The dark, snowy, lonely roads of rural Arkansas weren’t familiar to the driver, and what seemed like the perfect opportunity for escape, quickly turned into disaster.
Straining to add vision to the messages from my nose, I looked to my right and confirmed what I already knew. The car was resting nose down in the ditch and only a few feet from where I lay. Steam rose from a broken radiator, and its warm fluids dripped onto the snow; then the melted mess found its way to the bottom of the filthy trench I was in.
The engine stopped running with impact, but somehow bent and crushed headlights remained on – dimly shining against the ditch bank and tall grass. Light reflecting back on the destroyed car, painted a surreal and bizarre picture for my weak eyes.
An open passenger door was the reason I was in this ditch, and my ejection spared me most of the shock from the crash. I knew my nose was broken, and I certainly had other injured parts not discovered; but I was alive – for now. Somehow I’d managed to avoid the bullets, and only escaped the violent collision by choosing the peril of jumping from a moving vehicle – unfortunately the driver wasn’t that lucky!
The head and face made a perfect imprint in the smashed windshield – open and lifeless eyes staring at me through the bloody glass and asking for help. I had none to offer. Impact from the sudden stop against the ditch bank was enormous – however, I don’t suspect the body felt a thing. Moments before running out of road, a bullet crashed through the driver’s side window; taking most of their head with it, before slamming into the dashboard.
Even knowing it was useless, instinct told me to get up…get up and go check on my friend – the one I had promised to protect. Whoever fired the bullet that removed most of my friend’s head was probably only a few yards away and already rushing over to finish their work.
Unfortunately, my .38 wasn’t in its holster where it belonged – I knew that. During the short and speedy chase I had managed to fire two rounds at our pursuer – neither one having much effect on their aggressiveness. The gun was in my hand when I left the vehicle, but it wasn’t there now – apparently separating itself from me somewhere in the process.
Weapon or no weapon, I needed to get out of this ditch and on my feet – stand up to run or stand up to fight. Either way, I needed to stand up!
Putting my right arm against the soft ground, I rose slightly before moving my left – the pain was deafening! I slumped back into the mud, cursing myself for letting this happen. My left arm was useless, either broken when I left the vehicle or from another bullet that I never felt.
Looking away from the carnage I closed my eyes to help tolerate the pain and tried to recall recent events. Events that led me to a ‘one horse’ town in Arkansas, events that had killed my friend and events that put me in this dirty snow filled ditch without the ability to get out!
It started only a few days ago – which now seemed like forever. A client I was hired to protect – a simple task – had gone badly. Now, I have a dead friend, a dead client and a task not so simple.
Many thanks for agreeing to be my guest author Gerald, it’s been a pleasure having you here and I wish you much success.
If this has whetted your appetite for Gerald’s books do check him out here:
Thanks for visiting here today and finding out about Gerald and his writing. Do let us know what you think. x