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The Inevitable King Reference

It's difficult for a writer to live outside Bangor, Maine for six weeks and not think about Stephen King once or twice or sixteen times. Although I'm not a fan anymore, I loved his writing when I was a teenager and read everything he wrote until about 1999. What made me think about him while in Maine, however, was not so much the proximity to Bangor as how creepy Maine is: the old cemeteries around every corner, all the unmarked roads going off into forests, abandoned houses or worse, houses in such condition that they probably should be abandoned but with a few signs that someone still might live there. The mist that floated off the pond out my back door also contributed to the unsettling feeling I often had, especially when Trotsky would have to pee at 3am. The thick mist, intense darkness, and isolated location made it seem all too possible that someone or something was standing six feet away from me and I had no idea.

mist on a lake

But the spookiest factor was the forests. The forests in Maine are dark. Dark and dense. When you look into them, the individual trees quickly disappear into the murkiness, and it's easy to imagine yourself becoming quite lost only twenty steps in.


The forests are also filled with spindly and spidery trees that want to reach out and grab you. They are filled with ashen pine tree graveyards that belong in the most wicked parts of fairy tales.

When the blustery wind of the coastline kicks up, the trees talk to each other, deciding whether they will let you live or come crashing down on you, as their rotten and waterlogged roots become unmoored from sodden earth below.

The forest floor is awash in moss, growing over the fallen branches and trees, reclaiming them, sucking them back into the earth to decay, consuming them. Aided by the roots and rocks that push up, often unseen, through the spongy soil and carpet of pine needles on every trail, the moss waits for you to fall so it can devour you too

tree roots on trail

The boulders in the forests often seem too square, too intentionally positioned to be natural or random. Were they placed by some ancient civilization or aliens or some evil force? No information about them was available anywhere I looked.

boulders in a forest

boulders in a forest

When hiking in Maine, you can really let your imagination get the best of you. It's easy to see why someone who lived in Bangor for decades would become a horror writer. But did I actually participate in a little celebrity tourism and drive by his house? While I no longer like his style or content, King is undeniably successful and his how-to book/memoir, On Writing, is so good that I've read it twice in the last few years. So while my deep aversion to anything fan-girl-dom told me not to, in the end I parked outside his house and gaped for about 15 seconds. But it turns out that he might not even live there anymore. As of a year ago, he was moving to Florida and turning his property into a writers retreat. I can't find any news since then, and COVID-19 may have derailed his plans, but I would absolutely sign up for a stay.