Matthew Kiell first visited Monhegan Island in 1995. He came from the Midwest as a vacationer, and quickly fell under the island’s influence.

He returned to the haven off the Maine coast two years later. “I had just read ‘Bridges of Madison County,’ and I started thinking that Monhegan would be a perfect setting for a similar sort of book involving a story of personal relationships between one person who comes from elsewhere and another who lives in that location,” said Kiell.

Kiell, who makes his home near Chicago, has self-published a novel, “Monhegan Windows.” He’ll be back in Maine this week to visit his favorite vacation spot, and also to read and sign copies of his book. He’s scheduled publicity events at Sherman’s Books and Stationary stores from Freeport to Bar Harbor. No doubt he’ll also do some promotional work on the island as well.

“Monhegan Windows” is a pair of interweaving tales, each sharing a similar narrative framework. A Midwesterner escapes an emotional crisis and comes to Monhegan. He finds himself caught up in the allure of the island, and is drawn in by one of Monhegan’s longtime artists. 

Q: What was your goal in writing this novel?

A: My attempt was to write something that would be easy to read, a good summer read, but also one that would be able to withstand being read several times, if people want to go back and figure out how the whole story was put together and how it interconnects. The pretension I had is that it would be able to withstand freshman English classes for the next 20 or 30 years. 

Q: I know that you first visited in the mid-’90s. You’ve been back many times since?

A: For about 10 years, I went back with my family every odd summer for one week. I would rent one of the houses, of the rentals on the island each year, or stay in a B&B. And then when I started getting really more serious about the novel and also got involved in one or two other projects on the island, I started coming twice a year, and sometimes just by myself. 

Q: What do you like about Monhegan?

A: It’s an interesting place in that it is not for everyone. There are people who step off the boat onto the island and are surprised to find there are no cars and no paved roads and, until recently, virtually no cell phone reception or any of the manifestations of city life or a more modern life. It’s also a place that a lot of people instantly feel they can start to relax. Plus, you have all the art going on around you. It’s a wonderful mix of artistic expression, and not just painters, but a lot of musicians end up being there for a while, and writers. You find yourself decompressing after a couple of days. I would go for a week at a time and just find myself getting into the pattern of it. 

Q: How long does it take you to get into the rhythm of the island?

A: Once you have been there a number of times, you step off the boat onto the pier and you start walking up the hill toward the Island Inn and into the village, and you instantly feel like you haven’t been away from the place. Everything else seems to fall away.

For me, in writing the book and creating the story, I grew very interested in the different layers of the summer social population. There are people who come over for the day, people who come for just a couple of nights, and a whole constantly-rotating population of people who come for a week.

And then there are the artists and others who come for the summer and the relatively few people who actually live there year-round. In going to Monhegan for 15 years now, I know who a lot of the people are and many know who I am, but I still feel that I have very little sense of the underlying social scene and society that is even there. I constructed my book that way, too. I didn’t feel like I could write a book that would explain what it was like to live on the island, because I don’t know. 

Q: How do you think the book will be received?

A: Monhegan islanders, the established year-rounders and the longtime summer people, are rightfully protective of their island and how it’s represented. It’s definitely a special place. After 120 years of artists flocking to the island, they are very used to being depicted on canvas and proud of that heritage.

But there is a lot of suspicion about written depictions. There’s a view that writers — especially those coming from “the big city,” which I definitely do — are prone to distorting a place, making fun of or revealing local people in an unkind light, and moving on their way.

So there has been some suspicion, or at least a cool reception, on the part of some. But there has also been some keen interest. Plus, I am extremely grateful to the many artists, 15 in all, who allowed me to include their works in the book. Over the years, working on the novel I got a great deal of support in particular from Holden Nelson, the owner of the Monhegan House hotel. 

Q: As you got more deeply in writing the novel —

A: As I got more deeply into writing the novel, I got interested in how the many different arts cross paths and express themselves in different ways. So, beyond the two written prose narratives, the nature of painting, which is central to the island, is central to my novel, which delves into how people are drawn in by art in a number of ways. But I also included photography. And there is poetry and oral storytelling and music. I even get into asking who or what is the artist in creating sea glass. 

Q: We know that Monhegan is a dream for visual artists. How is for writers?

A: Until a couple of years ago, I almost never went during the middle of the season. When I would go by myself, I would go in June or into September or October. The atmosphere there was very contemplative and nice, and suitable for writing. I found my spots where I would go with my laptop and sit for hours on end working on the book.