Where in Maine is Moosetookalook?

Continuing our small Maine town theme . . . Moosetookalook is the fictional village my amateur sleuth, Liss MacCrimmon, returns to when she needs to recover from an injury and reinvent herself. It does not really exist, although it has characteristics in common with any number of tiny, rural Maine communities. I’ve given Moosetookalook a population of 1007. Moosetookalook is the name of both the village and the town it is part of, and it is located in the equally fictional Carrabassett County.

When I started the series, I had to draw several maps for my own use in order to figure out where places were in relation to one another. I’m no kind of an artist, as you can see here.

I’ve put Carrabassett County between the real counties of Franklin and Oxford in the Western Maine Mountains. This second map, showing the real counties in Maine, will give you an idea of the way I blithely replaced entire towns in both Oxford and Franklin Counties with my own inventions inside Carrabassett County. If you look back at that drawing, you’ll see that, early on, I hadn’t even decided how to spell Carrabassett!

All of the places in my fictional county are made up. Fallstown, Waycross Springs, and any others I may make up in the future, are not pseudonyms for real towns, although I will confess that the University of Maine at Fallstown bears a strong resemblance to the University of Maine at Farmington, where I worked as a library assistant for almost a decade. That said, the books in the Liss MacCrimmon series are fiction and so are most of the places and things, and all of the people in them. That goes for highland games, businesses, and dance companies, too. Although there may be exceptions as the series goes on, the only time I ordinarily use a real place is when it is too large to ignore, such as Portland, Bangor, and their respective airports. Out-of-state locations are generally real places.

One place not on this map is Three Cities, which will feature in the next Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American Heritage Mystery, Bagpipes, Brides and Homicides, due out in August.

But what about Moosetookalook? How did I come up with that name? Actually, I didn’t. It was husband’s idea. It was the name he gave to the small pond we dug on our property to drain a swampy area. Moosetookalook seemed a natural. The photo below was taken during the digging process.

We often have moose on our property. After the pond was full of water, they came there to drink. The real Moosetookalook also attracts deer, ducks, frogs, and other critters. As you can see in this next picture, from the right angle it looks quite impressive. Below is a shot that will give you a better idea of its actual size.

An aside: We have lots of real places in Maine with strange-sounding names. Some of my favorites are Madawaska, Mattawamkeag, Damariscotta, Norridgewock, and Meddybemps.

As for the village of Moosetookalook itself, I made a huge map, now taped to the back of my office door, to show the streets and houses and the businesses around the town square. It’s too big to scan and include here, but I will tell you that for a small village a surprising number of properties have changed hands in the course of the series due to the sudden demise of the former owners!!! Some places, like Liss’s shop, Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium, and Joe Ruskin’s hotel, The Spruces, play an important part in just about every book. Others, especially the businesses around the town square, come in for frequent mention. By this time Angie’s Books, Patsy’s Coffee House, Stu’s Ski Shop, and the redbrick municipal building with the fire station, police department, and town office on the first floor and the public library on the second, are must-visit locations when I write a new entry in the series. Except for the municipal building, the other structures that surround the town square are late nineteenth and early twentieth century white clapboard houses. Some have buisnesses on the first floor and living quarters above and a few are still private residences. The town square itself has all those things typical of town squares in Maine—a gazebo/bandstand, a playground, flower beds, and a monument to the Civil War dead. I actually had the small park across the street from the courthouse in Farmington in mind when I designed it, but I added a few other touches, too.

I guess I should make one confession, though. That redbrick municipal building? It’s (more or less) the one from my youth in my home town . . . in New York state!

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6 Responses to Where in Maine is Moosetookalook?

  1. I love the origin of Moosetookalook! And thanks for sharing the way you organize your fictional towns. Think I’ll have to draw myself a big map of Hurricane Harbor — you’ve inspired me!

  2. Lea Wait says:

    I love your maps! I draw maps, too — especially for my historicals set in Wiscasset. (Really challenging, since they ARE historicals … and people moved houses in Maine …. so every time I take on another time period I have to find out where the houses are as well as who lived in them!) For my contemporaries set in the mid-coast I do include some real towns .. but my major locations are fictional, but combine parts of many mid-coast towns. So when people say, “Weymouth is really Wiscasset?” or “Saco?” or “Brunswick?” I can say, “Well, a little bit. Mostly – it’s Weymouth!” And I have my own map ….” Love the post …

  3. Beth Kanell says:

    Delightful to “see” the imagining of Moosetookalook — thanks very much, Kaitlyn!

  4. Barbara Ross says:

    I love fictional towns. As a friend of mine says, “no novel with a map in it can be all bad.” I think a big part of the attraction of these books is the “I want to go there” or even “I want to live there factor.”

    I really love it in a long running series when the towns evolve, the way the locals react in St Mary Mead when a housing development is built there after WWII full of “new people,” or the way Rendell’s Kingsmarkham goes from market town to dense suburb over 40 years.

  5. What a charming post. I enjoy hearing about how authors create fictional places. There is a Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Maine, and there is a story about how it got it’s name that would fit nicely with Moosetookalook.

    I lived in Franklin County next to the fictional Carrabasset County, and Kaitlyn’s descriptions make Carrabasset very real for me. Not to mention making me nostalgic for my days at the University of Maine at Farmington. Maine is fortunate to have so many talented writers. UMF has an excellent writing program. I’d love to have a summer home in Maine, but my royalties are not sufficient for a second home, alas.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Fun. We have been to Maine multiple times on vacation. Always wondered what was real and what was fictional. Only have read the first 2 books so far, have the 3rd on reserve at the library.

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