Susan Vaughan here. I wrote this post before the tragic accident occurred on the Monhegan ferry dock in Port Clyde, an ugly event in such a picturesque and peaceful setting. My heart goes out to those injured and to the Gold family for their loss. I debated about deleting this post and writing another, but decided in the end to go forward.


Wanting take advantage of Maine’s glorious August weather, my husband and I recently spent the day on Monhegan Island. This small island, only about one square mile, is one of our favorite places to get away and hike. Camera mandatory. We booked the ferry Elizabeth Annahead and were lucky with the weather. The twelve-mile ride from the village of Port Clyde took us past Marshall Point Lighthouse, another great destination.

Marshall Point Lighthouse

I thought I might set a mystery or romantic suspense on Monhegan, so as we rode the ferry away from the mainland, I started plotting.  The island has a small year-round population but boasts a thriving fishing community. In summer, tourists and artists fill the island’s cottages, hotels, and galleries. And maybe my fictional murderer or his victim, I told my husband. He just rolls his eyes when I suggest these worst-case scenarios.

The ferry left us at the village dock and we hiked up past the Island Inn, where we’d stayed overnight on a previous visit. The inn is quaint and cozy, and our room had a balcony overlooking the harbor. A good vantage point from which a criminal hiding out could watch the comings and goings of ferry passengers. Hmm, my plot began to cook.

Island Inn

Monhegan’s trails are extensive, about twelve miles. For our few hours before the ferry returned, we chose the cliff side trails. We hiked through the village, and in the schoolhouse yard, found the Tercentenary Tablet that commemorates John Smith’s voyage to the island in 1614. We entered the cool shade of the woods, fragrant with pine and balsam, and climbed through a fairy glen, where children had built stick houses for the wee ones. We emerged from the woods onto White Head, among the highest ocean cliffs on the Maine coastline.

White Head

A man standing nearby aloud from his guidebook that the undertow there was dangerous and the waves unpredictable. On that clear day, we could see the islands of Isle au Haut and Matinicus, and beyond to the broad Atlantic. Anyone who fell in—or was pushed—would be swept away to Spain. Aha, I’d found my murder site. Steep, with giant waves crashing on the rocks below. Isolated—except for the crush of people taking pictures and looking through binoculars. Oh well, I’d set the story during another season. During a storm.

Before I ruined the scenic interlude for my husband, he dragged me away back to the trail. We had lunch in the village and bought pottery as a souvenir before boarding the ferry to return to Port Clyde.

Monhegan village from Lighthouse Hill

I hope you’ll visit my website at http://www.susanvaughan.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SusanVaughanBooks, where I’d love it if you’d “Like” my page.

In the meantime, if you go to Monhegan, put my plotting out of your head and enjoy the island. If anyone has experiences on other Maine islands to share, I’d love your comments.

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  1. Lea Wait says:

    Enjoyed your post! Monhegan is one of my very favorite spots in Maine, too. I haven’t gotten there for several years now, and I miss it. (I take the ferry from Boothbay Harbor.)
    Love the views, the fairy houses, Cathedral Pines, as you described it … and the tiny village itself. We’ve also stayed overnight at the Inn … once, many years ago, before there were telephones there and everyone shared a communal bathroom … and once just a few years ago after they’d really spruced the place up. A wonderful Maine island.

    • Lea, thanks for the comment. Yes, the Island Inn now has rooms with private baths. They’re tiny but better than going down the hall. And you can’t beat the view from the balcony.

  2. Linda Style says:

    Interesting traveloge on the island, Susan…and great photos. You definitely have a writer’s mind. 🙂 I’ll look forward to the Monhegan Island story!

  3. Barb Ross says:

    You’ve inspired me, Susan. Every year I tell my husband we’re going to Monhegan and then somehow the summer passes. next year for sure.

  4. Lovely post! We lived on Islesboro for four years, and I’ve always wanted to set something there. Since I write historicals, it would have to be during the Gilded Age, when all those “cottages” sprung up. You’ve inspired me!

  5. Standing on the edge of a cliff with your hubby thinking about where the body that falls in will wash up probably did little to warm his heart. 😉

    Sounds like a great place to visit, and maybe an even better place to plot all sorts of things.

  6. My favorite line: “Before I ruined the scenic interlude for my husband, he dragged me away…” LOL!

    I love the photos, Susan, and enjoyed catching a glimpse of how you plan and plot your stories. Maine is so gorgeous, I would love to visit there one day.

  7. sandy gardner says:

    thanks for this post! My husband and I first went to Monhegan years ago, after we’d moved to the NY area from Mass., where we both grew up. We’ve been there a couple of times more recently. Always loved it. Magical place. Stayed at The Trailing Yew each time.

  8. Susan, loved this post. Despite several trips to Maine, we haven’t made it to Monhegan Island. Perhaps we will this fall. We’ll be staying at Booth Bay Harbor. Does sound like a magical place. I’m hoping I can use the house will be staying in as a site for one of my next books. So fun to be able to combine trips with plotting. I hope your comes together.

  9. This is my favorite type of vacation, Susan, beautiful scenery and plotting all in one. Sounds like a perfect place for a good murder scene, especially with all those visitors. Do they continue their pilgrimage in autumn? Thanks for sharing, I loved the article and the photos. Let us all know when the book is available!

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