Paul Doiron has had two of the world’s best jobs. For the last nine years, he’s been a mystery novelist. His 2010 debut, The Poacher’s Son, introduced readers to Maine game warden Mike Bowditch, a backwoods-savvy badge whose continuing adventures (and travails) Doiron has now chronicled through 10 books, including this summer’s Almost Midnight. And from 2005 to 2013, of course, he was editor in chief of Down East.
He’s also an avid birder, a practice he picked up in the mid-’90s when he met his wife, poet and naturalist Kristen Lindquist, who he says made it a condition of their courtship. “I was game,” Doiron says, “because I love being outdoors, and I think I realized that I heard birds all the time but just didn’t differentiate them.” His favorite places, unsurprisingly, are spots where he can often be found toting binoculars.
Quoddy Head State Park is one — not the striped lighthouse on our cover, but the cliffs from which he watches kittiwakes and shearwaters. The lakes around Grand Lake Stream are another, where loons dive through water so clear, paddlers can glimpse trailer-size boulders below. “I couldn’t have written 10 books about the state of Maine without falling in love with a whole lot of places,” Doiron says.
But he only grew up in one, and that’s Scarborough, where the 3,200-acre Scarborough Marsh is the state’s largest salt marsh. And although his hometown is one of Maine’s fastest-growing communities, Doiron loves the marsh for being a quiet, extraordinary constant.
“It’s a filter for all the water flowing off the land and a nursery for all of these fish and mollusks and things we need for healthy fisheries and oceans,” he says. “And you can see amazing birds there, like glossy ibises and saltmarsh sparrows, which have this song that sounds like you licked your thumb and put it on a hot iron.”
He credits birding with making him a better novelist, as it’s taught him to pay better attention, to be more mindful. It is also, Doiron says, a sort of “gateway drug” to a conservation mindset and a love of the outdoors. “People like to have birds come to their feeders,” he says. “The next thing you know, they’re out for a walk.”
Among others, the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel, the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction, and multiple nominations for the Edgars, the Oscars of mystery writing
Rockland Breakwater Light. “It’s often open, and the breakwater is the most rewarding and surprising shy-of-a-mile walk on the Maine coast.”