PORTLAND—In 2005, Michelle Souliere started a blog called Strange Maine to be a nexus for everything that is weird, strange, spooky, and unexplained in Maine.
Between Maine’s history, legends, and mysteries, she’s had a lot of rich source material, Stephen King, notwithstanding.
“The blog started because I was just naturally interested in these topics,” she said. “I wound up with a copy of Loren Coleman’s book Mysterious America and thought, ‘There must be stuff like this in Maine. I started poking around and there wasn’t any central point for information like that in Maine and figured maybe somebody needs to do that!”
She opened The Green Hand Bookshop in Longfellow Square in Portland in 2009, an eclectic used bookshop that features an abundance of horror and sci fi titles, including vintage kitschy titles such as “Wicked Cyborg” and “The Cannibal That Overate.”
“All the fun stuff, my favorite stuff,” she said.
Ironically, there is another Strange Maine shop in Portland, as well, a landmark run by Brendan Evans.
“Both Brendan’s store and my blog were named after an anthology of horror stories written by Charles Waugh called “Strange Maine” published in the late 1970s,” she recalled. “This was all weird fiction, based in Maine.”
The Turner Beast
The Turner Beast is a creature that has been described as a husky-looking wolf with bulky shoulders, big eyes, a flat snout, short mangled ears, and a bushy tail. Before it was proven to be a hybrid, some researchers claimed that it could possibly be a Dire Wolf. It was spotted in Turner, Maine and was estimated to weigh about 120 lbs. It has been known to kill pets and livestock, mostly dogs, most likely for territorial reasons. Later DNA testing of the animal in the pictures revealed it to be a wolf-dog hybrid.
-Story courtesy Cryptid Wiki
Souliere turned the material she has been gathering for years from her blog into two books: Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State and Bigfoot in Maine.
“Strange Maine,” published in 2010, came out just as she was opening her bookshop.
“I was doing a lot of things at once,” she said. The book soon found an audience amongst horror fans and creative non-fiction readers.
“People definitely latched on to the tales of the Specter Moose, the Loup Garou, and the Strange Beast of Turner, Maine,” she said. “I also had a chapter about strange things found in the Maine woods, including Maine’s version of Bigfoot. That chapter expanded into its own book, published in 2021 and became a finalist for the 2022 National Indie Excellence® Awards, in the Regional Non-Fiction: Northeast category.
Souliere’s “Bigfoot” book dovetails nicely with the world’s only cryptozoology museum, located in Portland, Maine, called International Cryptozoology Museum.
“I’ve done a bunch of book signings there and before the owner Loren Coleman had his own space, he shared space in the back of my bookshop,” she said.
Souliere will be giving a Zoom talk on October 13 via the Portsmouth Public Library on the topic of strange happenings in Maine titled, “There's Something in the Woods” at 7 p.m. Find out more details here.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com