Kate Flora: It seems like every summer, despite the deadlines that loom, instead of sitting peacefully at my desk, occasionally glancing out at blue sky and blue sea, I am in my car, driving to libraries and book events all over the state. It’s an adventure that I welcome. Writers love libraries, and Maine librarians are a generous and enterprising bunch.
Often, when I’m driving, I wish that I had a sidekick to chat with, or to take pictures of the many delightful and crazy things I see along the way. Recently, driving back in the rain from one of our Making a Mystery events at the Rangeley Library, there was an incredible sunset in my rearview mirror and a stunning rainbow ahead of me. I wanted to take their pictures, but there was massive road construction, the roadsides were a muddy mess, and I figured that if I indulged the impulse, I would be mired in mud. Not a fun way to end a wonderful day.
On a recent trip to Blue Hill, I was lucky enough to meet good friends beforehand for a delicious dinner at Arborvine before presenting with the fabulous panel of Bruce Coffin and Katherine Hall Page, moderated by Chris Knopf with books by Blue Hill Books. At the library in Belgrade, where I was joined by Maureen Milliken and Sandy Neily, we were honored by the presence of the brand new town manager, and my brother and his wife showed up. Traveling around Maine is a chance to make new friends as well as new readers.
There are actually two benefits to these library events: the enthusiastic readers we meet there, often readers who are unfamiliar with our work or readers who are eager to know when a new book will debut; and the pleasure of seeing how other writers respond to the questions and comments based on the type of books they write and their individual writing practice.
Want to know about how we do research or what are writing schedules are? Just show up at an event and ask.
In the case of Making a Mystery, the panel of writers will be responding to the
interesting prompts the audience provides. If some of you aren’t familiar with the concept of the Making a Mystery program, here’s a brief sketch. At the beginning of the evening, attendees are given index cards, and invited to write character names, settings, motives, weapons, and occupations on individual cards. The cards are then placed in individual bags. A scribe is appointed to keep track of the evolving story. Then writers who represent different areas of the mystery genre, such as cozy/traditional, noir, police procedural, thriller, suspense, etc. begin to compose a story, explaining along the way how various considerations of their particular subgenre come into play in writing the story.
This summer, I’ve had the pleasure of presenting this program with other writers in Belgrade, Rangeley, and Maynard, Massachusetts. This coming Wednesday (aka today!) Bruce Coffin, Dick Cass, and I will be doing one in Freeport. Other groups of writers can be found composing mysteries on the fly in other parts of the state.
Of course, there are other destinations besides libraries. A recent picking trip to my blueberry field in Union, which has gone organic for the first time this year. A visit to the no-to-be-missed Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. A trip from Boothbay Harbor to see the puffins. A visit with the mystery mavens at Mainely Mysteries in Kennebunk. Lunch with Governor Mills and a view of her gardens. And of course, there is still more of summer to be enjoyed.