Interview: Paul Doiron



Set in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitive—his own father.

Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father, Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: They are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before—and his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty.


The author, Paul Dioron is the editor in chief of Down East: The Magazine of Maine, Down East Books, and A native of Maine, he attended Yale University, where he graduated with a degree in English and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. Paul is a Registered Maine Guide and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine.

Here's an excerpt from an interview at

You’ve been a successful writer and outdoorsman for some time. What made you want to incorporate those interests into a crime novel?

The crime genre was my first love — I remember devouring all the Sherlock Holmes stories as a kid — so I’m like the man who breaks up with a woman and then realizes, years after the fact, that she was right for him all along. Because when I went to college I began reading what most people categorize as literary fiction and decided that I wanted to write stories like Raymond Carver’s or novels like Tim O’Brien’s. Then my girlfriend (now my wife) gave me P.D. James to read, and I said, “Wait a second, this is a crime novel, but it’s also literature.” When you think about it, so many of the classic literary works are also corking novels of suspense: Crime and Punishment, The Secret Agent, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Your journalist’s penchant for research informs the novel. What kind of research went into this book?

I’d say that two types of research went into the book. I’ve always been an outdoorsy kind of guy. Few things make me happier than fly fishing from dawn till dusk. And I’m a Registered Maine Guide, which means I’m certified by the state in first aid, map and compass work, and basic woodcraft to lead trips into the wilderness. So a lot of my research consisted of just spending time in the woods, talking with other guides and learning, for example, how to call coyotes even though I’m not a coyote hunter myself. The other type of research was just shoe-leather journalism. Once I began formulating a plot for The Poacher’s Son, I knew that I needed to start interviewing game wardens, understanding their institutional structure and culture, how crimes are investigated in the state of Maine, that sort of thing. One of the truths I’ve learned as a journalist is that if you run into a roadblock, it usually means you haven’t done enough research. You just need to keep calling people until you can continue writing — and even then you’re bound to get some details wrong.

How does writing about an area you know so very well help inform a novel like this one?

When I started The Poacher’s Son, my goal was simply to write the book I myself wanted to read but couldn’t find anywhere else. I had no commercial aspirations for the novel whatsoever. I was doing lots of writing about Maine for Down East, but the magazine has its own voice and editorial stance, and I needed a place to record my personal experience of growing up here, a place where I could be profane and sexy and a bit of a trickster. Fiction also allows you to get past the distracting details that can bedevil nonfiction. If you read the factual events that inspired The Sun Also Rises, for instance, you realize that Hemingway’s novel was truer to the emotions and tensions and drama of that wine-filled weekend than what actually happened in Pamplona.

What do you hope appeals to readers in The Poacher’s Son?

My hope is that the book works on two levels for readers. I want it to be a great read — the novel you can’t put down and that you want to tell all your friends about. I also hope it gets people thinking of the father-son relationships in their own lives and what it means to grow up to be a man today. Then there’s the important role nature plays in the book. In an age when more and more young people are living entirely indoors and connecting online, Mike Bowditch has made a conscious decision to forge a life for himself outdoors. He’s not a Luddite or a hermit, but he’s suspicious that modernity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I intend Mike’s choice to be a provocation.

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