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Lea Wait: Why Maine?


Why Maine?

Tomorrow my eighteenth traditionally published book, DANGLING BY A THREAD, will be released. (Hurrah!) Five of my books are historicals set in the nineteenth century, one is a memoir which includes writing tips (LIVING AND WRITING ON THE COAST OF MAINE), and the other twelve are mysteries: eight in the Shadows Antique Print series, and, as of tomorrow, four in the Mainely Needlepoint series.

Of those eighteen books, all but three are set in Maine. (Although SEAWARD BORN does begin in Charleston, South Carolina … that protagonist gets to Maine, too.)

lea-on-wiscasset-town-pierFor obvious reasons, I’m known as a Maine author.

I’m not the only one. There are a raft or three of mystery authors who live in Maine either full or part time, ranging from best-sellers Stephen King and Tess Gerritsen to Julia Spencer-Fleming, Paul Doiron, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Kate Flora, Barbara Ross, Jim Hayman, Sarah Graves, Gerry Boyle … and that’s just the beginning.

When I speak at libraries and conferences in and outside of Maine, one of the most frequently asked question is: why Maine? And … why do readers look for Maine mysteries?

Maine has a special fascination for many people. Stephen King’s dark books helped set the scene. Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove (“Murder She Wrote”) although filmed on the west coast, enticed many readers. There are many Maines: the coast, including lobsters, lighthouses, and summer tourists. The mountains, including part of the Appalachian Trail, mountain climbing, ski resorts, moose, and dense wilderness. Large lakes, surrounded by deep woods. Potato and blueberry farming in Aroostook County, where some people still speak French. Lumbering. Small mill towns throughout the state, many of them prosperous years ago, but now struggling to survive.

In other words: writers (and readers) have many Maines to choose from. Plus, Maine is one of the least populated states, and it’s a lot larger than most people imagine: the Maine Turnpike, which stretches from the New Hampshire border to New Brunswick, is over 300 miles long – and if you want to go northwest, your trip will be longer. Maine has over 4600 islands, 15 populated year round. Its coastline, stretched out, would be longer than the rest of the east coast of the US.

Plenty of space for trouble to occur. Plenty of places to hide bodies. Weather that varies from occasional ninety degrees in the summer to blizzards in the winter. And a population that includes Penobscot Indians, Somali refugees, French Canadian descendants, Hispanic migrant workers, and a wide assortment of others.

Why NOT set mysteries in Maine?dangling-by-a-thread-comp300

My latest book, DANGLING BY A THREAD, began to come together when I remembered a man I’d seen as a child. He lived alone on a tiny island without water or electricity. His hair was long, and pinned in a ponytail. Once or twice a month he’d come into the town wharf, rowing his small skiff. He only spoke to the postmaster and a clerk at the small general store where he bought supplies.

People called him “The Character.”

Two years after I first saw him he vanished, swept away in a winter storm. His skiff was found miles away, broken up on rocks.

His life fascinated me. Who was he? Why did he choose to live as he did?

In DANGLING BY A THREAD my character Jesse Lockhart, called The Solitary by those who saw him rowing into Haven Harbor from his small island, has a purpose: He’s protecting the nesting grounds of threatened Great Cormorants. But when a wealthy family decides his island would be perfect for their home and helipad, Jesse himself becomes endangered. And then … but you’ll have to read my book to find out.


Lea Wait invites readers to friend her on Goodreads and Facebook (facebook.com/leawait) and to read a prequel of DANGLING BY A THREAD linked to her website, www.leawait.com.

Grab your copy at Amazon.

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