I just finished a month of visits to Maine libraries to talk about the new McMorrow novel RANDOM ACT, chatting with readers, introducing my books to new readers, generally hanging out. This is one of the things I like and appreciate most about the writing life—meeting people who, amazingly enough, share an interest in my characters. Who would have thought?
After more than 25 years it never gets old. And sometimes there are some amazing moments, like this one.
I was at the library in Liberty, Maine, a pretty village in Waldo County, in the heart of McMorrow country. Liberty is near Freedom, which is hard up against Prosperity, Jack’s fictional home. Jack and Roxanne and Sophie, and Claire, live on the Dump Road in Prosperity. It’s a quiet back road, surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods spread across Waldo County’s ripples of ridges and valleys.
When I’m driving through this part of the county, I can imagine Jack’s house, picture him tromping down a forest trail with Sophie, walking down the path to Clair’s barn. Mozart is playing.
But back to Liberty Library …
We were in the Q&A part of the evening, sitting back and having a conversation that jumped from Jack to writing to who would we cast in a McMorrow movie and back again. It was winding down when a woman to my left raised her hand. She said, “I think I live in Jack’s house.”
People looked at her a bit askance, but figured she was just a hardcore McMorrow fan. I didn’t. I said, “Where do you live?”
“Freedom,” she said.
“Where in Freedom?”
She told me. I said, “Are you an artist.”
“Yes,” she said, and I knew she did, indeed, live in Jack’s house.
When I was beginning to imagine BLOODLINE, the second McMorrow novel, I decided to move Jack from Androscoggin to rural Waldo County. Quiet, undiscovered Waldo County. I had a friend, Terry, who lived in the town of Freedom. He rented a rambling house from an artist, who lived in New York. I thought it was the perfect sort of place for Jack’s home base.
So for 11 books it’s been just that. Jack and Roxanne brought Sophie home there. Sophie’s room is up the stairs to the left. Jack and Roxanne have drinks on the back deck. Clair knocks and lets himself in.
But bad things have happened there, as well, as McMorrow’s enemies have taken the battle to him. The house has been set on fire. Armed Intruders have staked the place out from the back woods. Scary people have been found sitting at the kitchen table.
The owner of the house said she first became aware of her home’s fictional life when neighbors knocked and handed her a couple of McMorrow novels. They said, “We think you’d better read these.” She did. She said she thought of contacting me but was too shy. Was it her house in my books? Last week, she finally asked. The answer was yes, sort of. Prosperity exists only in the books, ditto for Jack et al. But she no longer had to wonder, and to flinch at some of the goings on there.
“I hated it,” she said, “when they shot out the windows.”