By Penelope Karageorge

Writing a novel is a trip. It can be a tumultuous adventure – you don’t know exactly where you’re going, but there’s the promise of discovery. On the other hand, you could get lost in the thickets where it seems impossible to find your way out. The only solution is to abort the trip and the book. Yet, you persist, seeking a special place, courtesy of your own imagination. Eureka! You did it, or rather, wrote it. It becomes your favorite chapter. You can relate. You enjoy going there to a place which may or may not exist in the real world.

This happened in writing my new mystery novel “Lovers and Other Killers.” Journalist Cass Cooper plans to remarry her ex-husband Vance, but finds him brutally stabbed to death. She goes in pursuit of the villain. (We might pause here to speculate that remarrying an ex-husband is asking for trouble.) Regardless, Cass, like other foolhardy romantics, believes that love conquers all. Her search brings her to a group called the Brainiacs, headquartered outside of Woodside, N.Y.. They are experimenting with the “new LSD.” Head honcho Dr. Marsha Newman, a psychoanalyst, claims that dropping LSD is the path to fulfillment, that it helps “individuals lead a more creative life.”

Does such a place exist in the real world? Not to my knowledge. The chapter intrigued me with its dual possibilities of discovery and disaster. I used my one LSD trip for the purpose of fiction and coupled it with a happening which was almost as strange as an LSD trip. In Greece, at the beach near my home on the island of Lemnos, I went swimming in the calm waters. There was no fear of drowning, yet a black and white dog attached himself to me with the apparent purpose of dragging me back to shore, pulling me by clamping on to my hair. He was a big dog, and I had no desire to tangle with him.

After bonding with the dog, I expected him to become part of my life on Lemnos. But he vanished. I never saw the black and white dog again. When I told my my friends in the village of Lichna, I was greeted with skepticism. They were not familiar with a black and white dog or anyone who had such an animal in the village or surrounding environs. Somebody suggested that it could have been a rescue dog.

The dog was real. I did not dream him up. And where does this fit in with the Brainiacs? They were definitely the product of my imagination. I continue to be bemused by this chapter, which uses the dog incident, blending reality and the world of the imagination.

The jury is still out on the use of mind-altering substances. In the novel, Marsha Newman, head honcho of the Brainiacs, encourages dropping LSD and believes that psychedelics are a positive force. Says Marsha: “We want to help people fit into society. I’m not talking conformity. I’m talking the productive life. The enriched life. Wider horizons. Creativity.”

William Blake, British poet and painter, wrote in 1793 in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is. Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all through narrow chinks of his cavern.” Blake has been widely quoted by proponents of LSD .

He could also be writing about the motivation for writing a mystery novel, or for reading one, for looking beyond the obvious. We are intrigued by mystery. I can enjoy returning to an Agatha Christie novel again, as well as to the novels of the great British mystery writers including Dorothy Sayers, P.D. James and Josephine Tey, although I know “who dun it.” Like an LSD trip remembered, it engenders solving all over again, and perhaps that’s what life is about.

Will there be Brainiacs in the future? Perhaps. Until then, I can enjoy visiting a destination that grew out of my own imagination.

“Lovers and Other Killers” is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Paperback: $18.99. Ebook: $9.49.

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