The Dark Lake Q&A with author Sarah Bailey

The Dark Lake is a murder mystery, but
it’s really a character exploration I think. Detective Gemma Woodstock is the lead protagonist and she at the start of the book is thrust into a murder investigation where the victim was a classmate of hers from 10 years ago and she conceals the shared history that they had so straight away I suppose the
reader knows that Gemma is the good guy she’s trying to find out who killed Rosalind Ryan but she’s also hiding an awful lot. So I think she’s a conflicted interesting character, hopefully, and it’s funny I was sort of part way through drafting another book that had a similar kind of lead protagonist, conflicted protagonist situation and this just really came along and interrupted and derailed that, that plan I had, so I sort of switched to writing this one and then yeah, sort of finished it – which was worthwhile! It wasn’t based on anything that happened, or a character in my world I more just started to sort of think about a premise around a small town where the lake was really central to the story. I sort of knew someone would die in it and then from there I think it was really the character of Gemma that kind of came through at the start and then I just kept adding people into her
storyline and the way that it kind of unfolded. Finishing it was the main objective
at the start! and then I guess once I got past that tricky first few chapters it was really important to me to craft a story that had really strong characters that
people connected with. So this is the thing that I’m most interested in, so every story that I’ve ever started to write or half-finished, and now finished… is all based on that premise I think. I find that really interesting I think about the stories that I’ve
always really liked reading and I think it’s the ones where you really like a character but then they do things that you find really compromised or frustrating or complicated and I think it’s realistic and I think it’s really interesting. I think Gemma is very stuck, I wouldn’t go so far as to say trapped but she certainly feels that way. I think because she’s had a child, that has changed everything for her and it wasn’t sort of a planned event in her life so she’s a bit of a victim in the sense that she isn’t taking control of her future but she certainly does have a lot of things that are getting in the way of her having clarity. So she’s very strong and she’s very reliable in a lot of ways but I would also argue that she’s quite compromised in all of the different roles she’s trying to fulfill, particularly one as a mother. Yes, I would say I read a lot of crime fiction I always have, so even when I was quite young I was really drawn to crime fiction like mystery novels but I also read a lot of fiction just broadly, as well lots of dramatic character based fiction mainly.

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