By AMY WIGHT CHAPMAN
Writer Anne Morin of Rumford Center will read from and discuss her work at the Bethel Library on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Morin’s first book, ‘Experiment One: Murder in the Lab,’ is a scientific crime novel in which Los Angeles Detective Brandell Young and neuroscientist Yvette Bilodeau team up to solve the case of a young research assistant found murdered at his lab bench.
Her second novel, ‘Experiment Two: Murder in Seaview,’ is due out later this fall. It features the same protagonists in a different venue—coastal Maine—where they reunite by chance and work together to solve the schoolyard killing of a little girl in broad daylight.
“They have both moved to Maine, unbeknownst to the other,” Morin said.
“Yvette has moved to Mount Desert Island to do DNA research. By the end of the chapter, they’re working on a case together.”
In plotting her books, Morin relies on her 25 years as chief of the neuroscience lab at the VA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she also taught at the UCLA School of Medicine.
Her novels are infused with scientific evidence and methodology, much of it related to the DNA research that was her specialty as a neuroscientist, and she has chosen to feature scientific images on the covers.
For example, she said, the weblike images on the cover of Experiment One: Murder in the Lab are actually blood-spattered cortical neurons.
Another hallmark of Morin’s writing is her emphasis on strong female and minority characters, a reflection of her years in the Los Angeles area, as well as her career in a once male-dominated field.
Although she began writing her first novel more than a decade ago, while still working as a neuroscientist, she had to put it aside to keep up with the writing of grants and scientific papers that was part of her career.
She became serious about completing the book after joining a Rumford writing group three years ago.
The group meets monthly, and each member reads from a work in progress, bringing copies for the others to critique.
The challenge kept Morin on task.
“I had to write new material for each meeting,” she said.
Returning to her roots
Although she embraced her life in California, Morin’s New England roots run deep. Her mother was from Rumford, and her father from Berlin, NH.
She grew up spending summers at a family camp on Roxbury Pond, where she and her husband, Barry Allen, now own a camp that formerly belonged to Morin’s great-aunt.
Allen is a Rumford native whose family also spent summers on the pond.
“We were children together on Roxbury Pond,” Morin said, “and we met again when I came to visit my parents at their cottage in 1991.”
They were married less than a year later, and spent the first decade of their marriage “going back and forth between California and Maine,” she said.
Allen has grown children and grandchildren in Maine, and eventually the pull of family ties prevailed.
In 2001, the couple bought an 1829 farmhouse on the Andover Road in Rumford Center and converted it into a bed-and-breakfast, where they welcome guests year-round.
Although it was hard to leave behind her career, friends, and volunteer activities in California, Morin said, “I really love the seasons, and the B&B has brought us a never-ending parade of interesting people.”
She prepares a full breakfast for her guests each morning in her large farmhouse kitchen, where she showcases and sells a variety of hand-made items from local craftspeople and artists, as well as honey from the bees she and Allen keep.
Morin spends one evening a week in a biology lab at Mountain Valley High School, where she teaches Anatomy and Physiology for the University of Maine’s University College.
She has also recently designed and begun teaching a free four-session course called “Science for Seniors” at the Rumford Library.
Each session focuses on a different aspect of science, and the course has attracted more than a dozen participants eager to plunge into scientific methodology and exploration.
Despite staying busy, Morin makes writing a priority. She is already plotting her third scientific crime novel, set to take place in familiar surroundings—the western Maine mountains.
For more information about Morin’s Nov. 30 reading, call the Bethel Library at 824-2520.