“Larry wrote a book?”
That was a typical reaction heard around the offices of the North Shore News when Lawrence Verigin – known to all as Larry, the affable and well-liked longtime ad rep for the newspaper – revealed in 2013 that he was about to release a novel called Dark Seed.
Verigin understood the reaction – he’d never published anything of note before in his life.
“Most people go, ‘Oh isn’t that nice. Larry wrote a book. I bet you it’s crap,’” Verigin says with a laugh, recalling those first reactions to his secret literary life. It turns out, however, that it wasn’t crap at all.
Dark Seed is the story of a journalist named Nick Barnes who stumbles upon a world-altering plot hatched by a man running a massive pharmaceutical and agrochemical corporation. The book is a real page-turner of danger and action, and it earned Verigin the 2014 Clue Thriller Award for international intrigue and was a finalist for the 2015 Eric Hoffer Book Awards Montaigne Medal for thought-provoking books that illuminate, progress, and redirect thoughts.
It also spawned a trilogy, with Dark Seed followed by 2016’s Seed of Control, which won the Clue Eco Thriller Award, and the finale, Beyond Control, which is due for release next month.
The creative flurry may have seemed to come out of nowhere for Verigin’s advertising colleagues, but was actually the result of more than a decade of hard work put in by the author.
“It took me 11 years to finish Dark Seed to the point where it was publishable,” says Verigin. “I wrote the first draft and liked the story, but realized that I didn’t know how to write. My background is not writing at all. Then I spent nine years trying to learn how to write, going to conferences and retreats and taking courses to learn how to write to the point where it was pretty good.”
Verigin credits Seattle’s Don McQuinn, a retired Marine turned award-winning thriller author, with helping him take his first novel over the finish line.
“For two years we basically went over our manuscripts, he taught us the craft part of it, the nuances,” he says. “By that time it was ready to go. And then I’ve just caught the bug since then and I’ll just be writing until I can’t write anymore.”
Verigin, who has continued to work at the North Shore News the whole time, is a disciplined author who wakes up at 5:15 a.m. most days to write before going to work.
“It’s more peaceful,” he says of writing in the quiet early hours. “My brain works better in the morning. And you have to treat it like a job, it’s not like ‘when the muse strikes you.’”
From the moment he first started tapping away on a keyboard, Verigin has maintained a social conscious while writing. The idea for Dark Seed, and the trilogy it became, was planted nearly 15 years ago during a conversation between Verigin and his father about food production and genetically modified organisms.
“At the time there was very little in the media and on the internet about genetically engineered food, and even the pesticide angle of it, and I started researching it more and more and found out that there was a bunch of negative stuff that wasn’t reported in the media,” says Verigin, adding that researching food production for the trilogy has had a drastic effect on his own consumer habits. “After doing all that research my wife and I are pretty much 90 per cent organic. And luckily on the North Shore it’s pretty easy to be fully organic. But yeah, it scared me and it scared my wife, so we’ve switched.”
In Beyond Control, Nick and his team are headed for a dramatic final showdown against the evil corporate owners, whose plans for global domination through food production are starting to spiral out of control, threatening humankind’s very existence. The trilogy is rooted in real life research but of course there’s added drama and villainy to ramp up the action.
“Right from the start, I wanted to write about things that were socially relevant, things that are going on out there that need more attention brought to them,” says Verigin. “But I wanted to do it in a way that was entertaining for people to read, a good story that also educates a little bit but isn’t heavy.”
Will Nick be able to save the species once the evil plot to control the world takes on a life of its own? That’s food for thought.
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Verigin will be at Indigo Park Royal signing advance copies of Beyond Control on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday’s event will be the only time copies of the book are available to the public before Beyond Control’s full release on Nov. 13.