Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, and Tall Pines Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at www.legardemysteries.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, Firesong (2011), Terror Comes Knocking (2011), For the Birds (2011), Essentially Yours (2012) and Don’t Let the Wind Catch You (2012).
Q: When did you start writing mysteries?
A: During my late teens and twenties I always knew I wanted to write a mystery series some day. It’s odd, because the writing bug hadn’t really hit me at that point. But in the back of my mind I just assumed I’d do it some day. I pictured it happening later, maybe in retirement. (I still had to finish college, get a job, get a house, raise my kids in a safe environment, etc.). As I matured through my thirties, I continued to devour all of the series mysteries I could read. These writers were my teachers, so to speak.
I didn’t commit to the LeGarde series until my father died, in 1997. The agony of the loss sent me into a tailspin. I’d lost eight family members and friends in the previous five years, and his death was the final straw. I needed something to help me release the pain, and decided that a series dedicated to my dad would be just the ticket. After writing Double Forté, I was completely bitten by the writing bug. And it hasn’t stopped pestering me since.
I understand the latest installment in the LeGarde mystery series, Firesong, has just been released. What is your protagonist, Gus LeGarde, up to this time?
Gus juggles more troubles at one time in this book than he has in his entire series. Here’s a blurb:
What would you do if your country church was hit by a rogue tornado during services? What if the shrieking winds unearthed the bones of a missing parishioner in a nearby wheat field? Now add the discovery of heroin in your elderly minister’s bloodstream. When Gus LeGarde is thrown into the middle of the mess, he knows life’s finally gone berserk in East Goodland, New York.
The Genesee Valley is in chaos. Strangers drive panel vans through the countryside at weird hours of the night. A new batch of drugs is on the street, endangering local. The local salt mine collapses due to illegal mining practices. Gas fires burn in wells. Watering holes turn to brine. Crops are dying. Tempers are short. To top it off, the new salt mine lies directly over ancient Indian burial grounds, bringing anguish to local tribes.
While Gus faces ordeals delivered by nature and man, his wife Camille discovers a hidden room in their house. She digs through historical archives to learn that the 1811 original homeowner, Mary Hill, may have had connections with the Underground Railroad. When local grave robbers begin to loot historic coffins, they find an empty coffin. Who killed Mary? How did she die? Where is her body? And where will this 200-year-old mystery lead?
Join Gus as he’s lured into a bizarre network of underground tunnels to expose the most shocking discovery ever to rock the Genesee Valley.
Besides being an amateur sleuth, Gus is a music professor. He also loves gardening, cooking, and is a big family man. How did you create this character?
Gus LeGarde is based partially on my father, and partially on me. He’s a strange amalgam of us both, and has also grown into a unique person all his own at the same time. My father was an avid musician, gardener, cook, animal lover, and family man. Of course, so am I. People who read the series see “me” in it, but I see my father. It’s rather fun.