Living and Writing on the Coast of Maine|
Sheepscot River Press, 213 pp, PB, $7.63 (Amazon)
Lea Wait is practically a household word among those of us who live in Maine and aspire to read everything literary that is produced (or set) in our fair state. In a very charming way, she showcases our virtues (in the character of her protagonists) and treats the less virtuous (like her crooks and ill-doers) with as much sympathy and understanding as the breadth of their crimes allow. Such work has acquired the dubious handle "cozy". The word is apt but, to me at least, while creating an attractive warm and fuzzy impression, it belittles the effort. The single word "cozy" practically guarantees the total absence of blood and gore but, it also suggests that the book so described will put you to sleep. ...and some do. Wait's plots keeps you hopping.
This memoir is a good introduction to Wait's work. Using excerpts from her novels she demonstrates how she "keeps up the pace" and fills out her characters, she gives examples of real life incidents that happen in her home town and how she modifies them to use in her fiction. Because of her settings...rural Maine,(although the grand metropolis of Portland is visited on occasion) and the characters who live there, the scale of both the plot and action never go over the top...no scaling of tall buildings "in single bound" (although there is often some tree climbing action).
She is generous in describing research techniques...one chapter is titled "Forget the Corner Store: Check the Police Blotter" exemplifies her straight forward approach to all things both criminal and literary. For a girl who grew up in New Jersey and worked in NYC for more than a few years, she has settled right, both physically and philosophically.
As for her daily life, she and her husband, writer, and their cat live amicably in an old house. It sounds as if it is located on the outskirts of town. He paints and she writes and does needlepoint and goes on publicity jaunts and frequents needle point shops. And that's the way it should be!