As do a lot of writers, Ardeana Hamlin has to create time in her life to commit her ideas to the printed page. She juggles a full-time job with the needs of her family. Writing often takes on a secondary role.

Her latest novel is “Abbott’s Reach,” recently published by Yarmouth-based Islandport Press. It follows up Hamlin’s “Pink Chimneys” (2003), a novel set in 19th-century Maine that followed the lives of three strong women during turbulent times in Maine history.

In “Abbott’s Reach,” Hamlin updates the lives of her characters and introduces a new one — Mercy Maude, or “M,” the daughter of the seamstress Elizabeth from “Pink Chimneys.”

In the new novel, we find M preparing to embark on a honeymoon voyage with her sea-captain husband. Her adventures along the way form the backbone of this story.

But it’s a story that Hamlin almost never found time to write.

“I wrote in the c racks of my life,” she said. “That’s what happened with ‘Abbott’s Reach.’ Life intervened. I went back to work full-time 10 years ago, and there were health issues. I’m still working full-time and overseeing the care of elderly parents, so it’s hard to find time. You have to make it.”

Hamlin grew up in Bingham in central Maine, and now lives in Hampden. She works for the Bangor Daily News. 

Q: Bring us up to speed. “Abbott’s Reach” advances the story of “Pink Chimneys.” Where does this story take us?

A: It takes up the characters of “Pink Chimneys” and takes us out on the great ocean, to Hawaii and back again. What I tried to do was to capitalize on the history of Maine women who went to sea with their husbands. 

Q: You describe your character Mercy Maude as a heroine. Why?

A: M is a heroine because she is a strong-minded young woman who is determined to do what she loves. She was raised at sea with her mother and stepfather, and wants to get back to sea after being a landlubber for a number of years. She wants to be on the ocean, where she feels at home. 

Q: Tell me about her journey.

A: Ultimately, M makes it all the way to Hawaii, where she learns about her husband’s indiscreet past and has to live with that. She encounters a storm on the way back. M becomes captain of the ship and navigates to San Francisco, then there is a train journey across the United States. 

Q: Why did you choose Mercy Maude as your leading lady? What do you appreciate about her character?

A: M is a sort of moody person. She is prone to fits of melancholy, which today we might call depression. She figures out it is a part of who she is and ways to get beyond it. I like the fact that she is a creature of the broader world, who can see things and not be confined to her role as a woman and stay at home and keep house. 

Q: Take me back to Bingham in the 1960s. Tell me something about your youth and how it impacts your life today.

A: I was fortunate enough to live in a time and place where to me it was like the last Eden, a time of innocence. Everything was safe. The whole place was safe. I went to two schools that were taught by people who were from that place and taught me a love of that place. When I left high school, I had all the tools I needed to write anything. 

Q: Have you stayed mostly close to home?

A: Yes. I lived for five years, during the academic years, out in Nebraska. That is where I really learned what it is I like about Maine, like gravel and rocks and the ability to navigate without thinking about it. If the Penobscot River is on your right-hand side, you have to be going north. That blue-green color of the ridge that you cannot get anywhere else. That is what I like about living in Maine. It’s just beautiful.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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