Cape Elizabeth author Kevin St. Jarre.

CAPE ELIZABETH — Kevin St. Jarre has always loved writing, and sold his first story at age 7. Granted, the “manuscript” was a few sheets of paper stapled together, and it was his father who bought it for 10 cents, but it was his first sale.

“There’s been a lot of rejection between then and now,” he said.

St. Jarre, 52, a Cape Elizabeth resident and lifelong Mainer, has managed to find some success along with the rejections. His new novel, “Aliens, Drywall, and a Unicycle,” is available for pre-order and electronically, and will be in bookstores Nov. 6. It’s technically his third novel — in 2004 he published the Night Stalkers, a three-volume series of action novels, but he published those under the pseudonym Michael Hawke.

“I didn’t want to be known for publishing military action novels,” he said.

His newest book, published under his own name, is a departure from that format, and from the historical fiction and thriller manuscripts he’s used to penning. The book’s protagonist, Tom Tibbets, is recovering from a painful divorce, and moves into a cheap apartment building in a fictitious small New Hampshire town, where he encounters various quirky characters. There’s the landlady who is obsessed with aliens and her belief in people being possessed by them, another resident who works at a fast-food restaurant and is what St. Jarre describes as a “pot-head philosopher,” and the two roommates who work for a construction company and play with high explosives for fun. St. Jarre said Tibbets at first looks down upon these people, but over time learns there’s more to the building’s denizens than their off-beat exteriors, and through this process also learns more than he expected about himself.

St. Jarre said he knew when he wrote the military thrillers that his heart wasn’t in it — he wrote them on the suggestion of his agent — but he surprised even himself with the character study he has produced in his newest book.

“It’s kind of out of left field for me,” he said.

Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, St. Jarre grew up in Madawaska, and graduated from Madawaska High School in 1986 before serving in the U.S. Army from 1986 to 1992. He worked in military intelligence, attached to the first armored division, and led a combat intelligence unit during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Kevin St. Jarre’s latest book, available online now and in bookstores on Nov. 6.

After his military service, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maine at Fort Kent in 1997, and later received the Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine in 2010. Aside from a brief stint teaching English composition and fiction writing at the University of Maine at Farmington from 2013 to 2016, and about four years at software company Aprisma, he has worked exclusively as a high school teacher in multiple districts in Maine. He taught at Caribou High School from 1997-1998,  Noble High School in North Berwick from 2003-2005, then at Fort Kent Community High School until 2010 and Massabesic High School in Waterboro from 2010-2014 before coming to Cape Elizabeth High School in fall 2014, and still teaches there today. This year he switched to English, having previously taught social studies. He also writes part-time for a local weekly newspaper.

During the summer before starting in Cape Elizabeth, St. Jarre spent time in Plymouth, New Hampshire, and said he wrote “a good chunk” of his latest book in a coffee shop there. He blocked out distractions with earbuds, a common practice of his, playing all manner of classic rock and other music.

“Every novel develops its own playlist,” he said.

For this book, he said, the one track he played the most while writing was The Rolling Stones’ “Gimmie Shelter.” Playing songs he knows, he said, helps to keep his mind focused on his writing.

“It works for me,” he said.

St. Jarre also writes early in the mornings on the front porch of his home, where he lives with his partner, Nylah Lyman, a poet and author.

St. Jarre has another book, “Celestine,” a science fiction story, coming out next year, and this week he said he is “always working on my next novel.” He said he enjoys the creative process, and even likes the business side of the writing industry.

“I’ve always like to write and getting paid to write is even better,” he said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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