Hi, I’m Sarah Graves and I’m a Maine mystery writer. I live in Eastport, a tiny island town about as far downeast as you can get without invading Canada, and I write the Home Repair is Homicide series of mysteries starring Jacobia Tiptree, an amateur old-house repair enthusiast and reluctant sleuth. Jake’s an ex-Wall-Street money manager whose wealthy clients were so crooked, their limousines should’ve been flying the Jolly Roger, and in her newest book, KNOCKDOWN, she thinks she’s buried her unsavory past. But we know what happens when people think that, don’t we?
Anyway, back to this blog: it occurs to me that some readers here might be mystery-writers, too. But are you a Maine mystery writer? After all, writing in Maine is for the most part like writing anywhere else: you just stare at a blank screen until drops of blood pop out of your forehead and fall to the keyboard. And location alone isn’t enough, is it? There are “Maine writers” who are really NYC-ers, for instance, and vice versa. So in case you’re unsure about whether you’re really one of us, here are some signs. You might be a Maine mystery writer — or as we say around here, crime writer — if:
1. You routinely drive 300 miles or more for book-signing events; extra credit if your vehicle is repaired with Bondo and/or silver duct tape.
2. The drinks at your publication parties are Moxie and Allen’s Coffee Brandy (bonus points if you mix them).
3. You write best on a diet of lobster rolls, “chowdah,” and blueberry pie (add points for moose stew, salt fish dinner, or smoked salmon on a stick; double points if you salted the fish).
4. When people ask if you’re “right out straight” working on the new book, you reply “Ayuh.” (But you’re not past deadline, so you don’t feel too “spleeny” about it.)
5. Nine months out of twelve, your writing-buddy is a propane gadget named Mr. Heater. For a woodstove or pellet stove, award yourself high honors.
6. Your books are reviewed in the island newspapers, Working Waterfront and Quoddy Tides. (Special credit for mention in Uncle Henry’s.)
7. You deduct a wool hat, a red-and-black plaid wool jacket, and fingerless gloves as “office equipment.”
8. Your overnight “express” mail takes three days.
9. The theme music for Murder, She Wrote makes you break out in hives. (Extra credit for anaphylactic shock.)
10. You’d rather lose a body part than your internet connection. To keep your email access, it can be an important body part; you are, after all, way out here in the puckerbrush.
And there you have it! These are just a few of the ways you can be pretty certain that you’re a real Maine mystery writer (or crime writer!); I’m sure my colleagues on this blog have even more and better ones to suggest. But if you can say ‘that’s me!’ to most of the points above, you could be a member of the club – so wipe the blood droplets off your keyboard, please, and write us up another one of those wicked good Maine mysteries.
(This list was first published back in 2011, and because I’m running faster and faster but only getting behinder and behinder, here it is again!)