The discovery of gold and other precious metals on land within a state park leads to murder in A Night Too Dark, Dana Stabenow's 17th mystery featuring Alaska PI Kate Shugak.

Tell us about Alaska's contemporary gold rush and how it will affect the fictional national park Kate lives in.

The Suulutaq Mine of the series is based on the Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska. Some people want jobs and an increased tax base, and others are afraid the byproducts of the mining process, like open pits and chemical leaching, will kill off fish and wildlife in the area. It's at present the single most controversial topic here.

“With annual world production of gold ore at nearly 2,500 metric tons,” you note at book's end, “only seventeen years of gold mining remain.”

It's an estimate I found through research, predicated on production remaining at current levels with no new discoveries made. I was shocked, too, but it's only an estimate. They may find a bigger mine than Pebble tomorrow somewhere else in Alaska.

How do you keep Kate so fresh?

If you want your characters to be real, their lives must be as well. People leave or die, we make new friends and new enemies—Kate's about to score a big one, who's going to last over the arc of several future novels. Copper mines play out, and gold mines are discovered. The only certainty is change, and how we react to it defines who we are.

What can you tell us about the TV show based on the series that Mike Devlin, a former California software mogul, is developing?

Alaska is every bit as much a character in the series as Kate and Mutt, her half-wolf, half-husky. I wanted it to be on the screen right there next to them. Mike means to film the series in Alaska. It's not every day a girl gets asked to help kick-start a whole new industry in her home state.

What's next?

The next Shugak will pick up two days later. Sort of Forrest Gump meets Cain and Abel.

Is Sarah Palin a Stabenow fan, and have you thought of running for office?

She spoke at the Bouchercon I helped host in Anchorage in 2007, and that October she named me Artist of the Year in the Governor's Arts Awards. She didn't mention the novels either time. And you grin, but I've been asked to run for office twice. I ran screaming both times.