Susan Vaughan, here. I’m thrilled to be a semi-regular guest blogger for Maine Crime Writers. As an author of romantic suspense novels, I hope to offer a slightly different perspective. I’ve set three of my published novels in Maine and the state is also the setting of my work in progress, a murder mystery. “Why Maine?” I asked myself.
I investigated the idea of the lure of Maine on Amazon.com, looking for books set in Maine or with Maine in the title. My search yielded 36,221 results, both fiction and nonfiction. Next, a Google search of Maine authors yielded 2,308 results. That lengthy list included authors who lived in the state as well as those who’d set a book in Maine.
This blog is popular because of the wonderful writers here, but another draw is, I suspect, the state of Maine itself, Or maybe the mystique and image of Maine as a setting for all kinds of fiction lures both writers and readers, but I’m thinking mostly of mystery fiction.
Maine has more than a bit of twisted history. For instance, the state’s rugged coastline provided harbors for rum smugglers during Prohibition. Even today, rural peninsulas and small fishing villages are sites for secrets. More than one kind of mischief and mayhem occurs in our-of-the-way coves and harbors. The quiet and isolation of the coast are fuel for the writer’s imagination. Mine included. My upcoming trilogy involves stopping drug and weapons smuggling along the Maine coast.
Maine offers more isolation on land, in huge swaths of forested land that’s largely unpopulated. All kinds of mischief and secrets can take place undetected. Headlines in the local news reinforce this notion every day. A man disappears while snowmobiling. His sled is found, wrecked, but there’s no sign of him. A young women disappears never to be found, or her bones are spotted ten years later, when a lumber company is cutting trees.
People in remote spots live a simpler way of life, independent, and in many ways disconnected, from the modern world. Imagine an isolated lake cabin, where people are trapped together because the only way in or out is by boat, and someone has stolen the boat. Someone is stalking … Well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Then there are the wonderful old houses. And I don’t mean purposefully spooky like Stephen Kings’ turreted house with bats on the gate. Old houses mean deep family roots with secrets and scandals — including hidden spaces or diaries secreted beneath floorboards or behind fireplaces. Small towns where people have long memories and hold grudges. Old colonial and Victorian houses make romantic and evocative settings.
If others have idea of why people like to read and write about Maine, I’d love to see them.