Mystery author Julia Spencer-Fleming of Buxton discusses her upcoming novel at Books in the ‘Brook last week at Walker Memorial Library. Courtesy photo

WESTBROOK — Award-winning mystery author Julia Spencer-Fleming of Buxton says she often finds inspiration for her fictional scenes in the community.

“On a superficial level, sometimes I use local place names for places in my fictional setting, not just because it is in say, Westbrook, but because I like the name of the park or the name of a business,” Spencer-Fleming said in an interview this week. 

“In a deeper sense, I write about the southern Adirondacks, a very eastern northeastern part of New York state, and there are so many similarities between that part of the world and right here where we are,” she said.

Julia Spencer-Fleming says she enjoys the intimate settings of local libraries when she gives readings. Courtesy photo

Spencer-Fleming is best known for her Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series, which includes “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “All Mortal Flesh” and the New York Times bestseller “One Was a Soldier.” Despite her national popularity, she said she relishes local events, such as her reading at Books in the ‘Brook on March 12.

Spencer-Fleming moved to the area from New York 26 years ago, after she and her husband fell in love with a house in Buxton.

“It’s a beautiful 1820 farm house right near the Saco River. We moved here and I have been here ever since. We raised our children here and we live in a pretty neighborhood, the Salmon Falls area right by the river,” she said.

At the Books in the ‘Brook event at Walker Memorial Library, Spencer-Fleming read from her latest novel, “Hid from Our Eyes,” which is set for release in early April.

She has given readings in bookstores and libraries around the country, but said reading in local libraries like Westbrook’s feels more personal.

“That is a great location to make an appearance. It’s more intimate than a lot of other places, which adds to the charm, and it’s lovely. It feels like a special place,” she said. “Things like Books in the ‘Brook develop the community, excitement and appreciation, and I love interacting with readers, hearing their questions.”

She often attends Books in the ‘Brook’s monthly events as an audience member. She enjoys the audience mix of readers and writers because it leads to an engaging event each time, she said.

Books in the ‘Brook was started by local authors Brenda Buchanan, Brendan Rielly and Laura Kilmartin.

“We all write and live in Westbrook. As a reader and audience member, Books in the ‘Brook has opened me up to different genres. I get stuck reading what I always traditionally read and this opened me up to a lot,” Kilmartin said.

Each reading takes place on the second Thursday of each month. Next month may feature Agnes Bushell, a Portland-based novelist, but at this time all library events have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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