In a secluded compound of cabins above a lake in the Adirondacks, a young private investigator and assistant district attorney from Texas finds a beloved family member dead, a string of cover ups by corrupted officials, and a cousin in love with a dangerous man.
So begins Dark Lake, the fourth book in the suspenseful Allie Armington murder mystery series by award-winning author Louise Gaylord, who lives and writes in both Santa Barbara and her hometown of Houston, Texas. A spunky and curious young woman with a taste for adventure and a knack for finding out the truth, the character of Allie was originally inspired by Gaylord’s time on a grand jury in Houston. The assistant DA was “so lousy,” recalled Gaylord, that she thought “a woman could do this so much better.”
In the style of Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich, Gaylord deftly intertwines family, love, murder, and suspense in these dark and exciting reads. Since the first book, Anacacho, Allie Armington has been in three more, each set in a new location. Dark Lake takes place in the Adirondacks, as Gaylord explained, because she has been going up there with her family for 47 years. The complex of cabins that the story centers around is based on an actual place that she saw while on a party boat with her family one summer long ago.
Gaylord never imagined she would be an author, and she didn’t even start writing until after her children were born and she became acquainted with the computer. “I could never have written them longhand,” she said. Though some authors follow an outline, Gaylord “lets it all hang out” and has “no idea where the story is going,” a strategy that keeps her amused. She enjoys the research and writing components of her novels equally. In the case of Dark Lake, Allie exposes a meth operation, including several faster and more streamlined mobile meth labs, which is something that Gaylord read about and researched in East Texas.
In the years that she has been writing, the publishing process has changed considerably and continues to do so almost daily, said Gaylord, who is an avid e-book user. She always makes her books available in e-form and also in print. “Some people say they have to have a book in their hand,” she said, “but I love my Kindle! I can carry 50 books with me in a very slim container.”
Gaylord self-published her first book after a friend in a writing group suggested Dan Poynter and his self-publishing seminars in Santa Barbara. She signed up and was reasonably successful. Now, Little Moose Press publishes the series, but she hopes one day that St. Martins might take it up. But the money is not in books, she said — it’s in TV or movie rights, and she is “not expecting to be a millionaire any time soon.”
Her next book-in-progress takes place on a cruise ship, and, for those who know the characters, Aiden and Myra have fallen in love and gotten married and brought the whole family on their honeymoon. The story involves an Italian captain who is not as good as he thinks he is and a new love interest for Allie. Gaylord plans on getting Allie to Santa Barbara in one of her future books. Each book takes about two to three years for her to write and she thinks she has at least three more before the series is complete.
Gaylord will be coming back to Santa Barbara around Thanksgiving and staying until March. In December, she’s likely to be doing book signings at Chaucer’s Books and Tecolote Book Shop. Stay tuned for that info.
Dark Lake is on sale at Chaucer’s Books and Tecolote Bookshop. See louisegaylordauthor.com/ for more info.