Reading a book with my dogs head on my lap

Have You Ever Moved to a New Place Based on a Book You Read?

Many people ask why we decided to move to Maine. Neither my husband nor I have family, friends, or roots of any kind here. While proximity to family was one incentive for relocating from sunny California, we’re still a good 8+ hour drive north of my parents’ home in New Jersey. At least we’re in the same time zone!

We settled on Maine for some obvious reasons: Great local seafood, legal cannabis, and no shortage of adventures for an outdoorsy couple with a wealth of experience living off the grid and on our own terms.

But there’s a less apparent reason we moved to Maine: Stephen King.

Me standing in front of Stephen King's house in Bangor, Maine
Me standing in front of Stephen King’s house in Bangor, Maine. I don’t even recognize the woman in this photo. She’s since thrown herself into the pyre and risen from the ashes as Luna Phoxx.

How Stephen King Convinced Me to Move to Maine

Even before Jason and I decided to leave California, Stephen King was sowing seeds of change in my inner ear. I can’t recall exactly when I decided to buy the audiobook version of his renowned memoir, On Writing*. However, I know I listened to most of it during long runs on Louie Rd., a remote, mostly unpaved backroad that meanders through 5-6 miles of farmland in the Shasta Valley.

Me and Bruce crossing a spooky bridge on Louie Rd.

It was the perfect setting to listen to the King of Horror delve into the details of his craft. If you read or listen to the book (which I highly recommend), you’ll learn that King didn’t just stumble into his role as a Maestro of Fear. His real-life stories of growing up in Maine are pretty dang terrifying.

King coped with his childhood trauma the way many of us do—binge drinking. Listening to his experience as an alcoholic also planted seeds of sobriety in my mind, but that’s a different story.

Through writing, he was able to face his demons and transform them. Success didn’t come easily, but I don’t want to spoil the book for you.

How Does any of this Make Maine Look Appealing?

Writing a novel is something I think I’ve always longed for but never quite believed was practical—or even possible—for me. Listening to Stephen King talk while running those long, solitary miles along Louie Rd. made me realize that it wasn’t something I might want to try someday, it was something I definitely wanted to do, and I’d better start soon.

I was already living in a seemingly ideal place to launch into the fiction-author branch of my writing career. We were in Dunsmuir, California, a small town with zero traffic lights and three railroad crossings. Character and charm (and crackheads) on every corner.

So, why didn’t I start writing fiction there? The answer is simple, I was too distracted. Northern California doesn’t get the kind of winters Maine does. If it was cold enough and snowy enough, we went skiing. If not, we’d go trail running. And in between all that was lots of wine and beer with friends.

But something stirred in me while listening to Stephen King talk about writing amongst the dark—and definitely haunted—pine forests of Maine. Some little voice inside my head whispered, “I can totally see you doing that.”

Another creepy run on Louie Rd. Perfect setting for a Stephen King narration.

My Experience So Far

I didn’t start working on my first novel until we’d been here more than a year. Like everyone else, I spent a lot of 2020 wondering if I was going to die that day.

But once I got started, it became pretty clear I’m in the perfect place. Nothing about living in Maine year-round is easy or convenient. In fact, it’s fucking hard. Winters are only survivable through hard-assed tenacity and an unshakable faith that spring will come again. If I didn’t have this business to manage, this novel to work on, and the limitless potential of my own creativity, I’d go mad like Jack Torrance in The Shining.

This Isn’t the First Time a Book has Inspired My Decision to Move

Stephen King isn’t the first writer to influence my choice of where to live. By this time, you may have already guessed that I’m a fairly nomadic, adventurous, and independent person. So picking up my life and moving to a totally new place because something I read made it sound like a good idea is pretty on brand.

Before Maine, I decided to move to northern Arizona after reading two books: Maynard James Keenan’s biography, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things* and Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire*.

The former tells the story of the artist who became the frontman for TOOL, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. Now, MJK balances his musical projects with winemaking. He owns a vineyard, winery, multiple restaurants, and a record store with an in-house barbershop in Jerome, Arizona. I visited all of these places and had the time of my life exploring Jerome, a quirky, haunted mine town that teeters on the side of a cliff.

Camping outside of Sedona, Arizona

Desert Solitaire is more well-known. It’s a story of Abbey’s time as a park ranger in Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. After I moved out of my temporary home, I spent a month camping in the wilderness around Sedona, Flagstaff, Moab, and Durango. It was one of the best and most transformative experiences of my life, and also a story for another time.

All these book-inspired moves feel like so much gold in the treasure chest of my heart. Perhaps my motivation to keep writing and publishing is tied to my desire to inspire others to live boldly in the same way these authors have moved me.

Sharing all of this makes me wonder if others out there have similar stories, or if I’m a total whacko. If you’ve ever moved somewhere based on a book you read, please tell me about it!

Thanks for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Have You Ever Moved to a New Place Based on a Book You Read?”

  1. I’ve never moved or chosen a travel destination because of a book, but when I’ve visited places, it’s definitely cool to see sites mentioned in books (like Leopold’s Cafe in Mumbai as mentioned in Shantaram).

  2. Wow, I have never moved because of a book but books have inspired me to travel to certain places. I do love that you moved because of books, and it’s very cool to be that close to Stephen King’s home!

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