There’s been a lot of talk lately about Bigfoot. It occurs to me that if Mr. Foot ever decides to go public, the first person he’ll probably seek out is Michelle Souliere, who operates the quirky Portland bookstore The Green Hand.

Souliere also runs a popular blog called “Strange Maine,” which covers . . . well, you can probably deduce what it covers. “Weirdness. Unmapped roads. Whispering rocks. Deadening fog. Ghost pirates. Lonely islands. THINGS in the WOODS,” goes the blog intro. “History, mysteries, legends, current events, cryptozoology & more.”

More importantly to our elusive and hirsute friend, Souliere for 10 years has been writing Maine Bigfoot stories and compiling them into a pair of books. Presently, she’s looking for input from anybody with a Bigfoot tale to tell.  

If the big-footed one is out there hiding in the deep woods somewhere, by now he’s probably found a way to keep up with Souliere’s work. We’ve been keeping up, too, and this week we caught up with Her Strangeness to ask some questions of our own.

How did you become the “Strange Maine” lady? Well, no one else was doing it. I sensed a void, and had lots of material to fill it with. 🙂 I had read Loren Coleman’s “Mysterious America,” Joseph Citro’s “Weird New England,” William Robinson’s “Abandoned New England.” I was fired up! I wanted to know if I could I find out more about our own Maine urban legends, hauntings, weird history and personalities.

I began poking around online, and became an avid reader of RoadsideAmerica.com and Cranky Yankee’s New England Anomaly website, now defunct. But when I went to explore the Maine versions of those websites, I found nothing. Nothing! Flabbergasted, I got a crazy bee in my bonnet and hit the big button on Blogger.com, with which you create a blog. Because I’m just that crazy. And so http://strangemaine.blogspot.com was born, way back in 2005! My first post was titled “Welcome to weirdness!!!” and I think that pretty much covers it.

My first few posts were made in an effort to cast about after urban legends I’d heard over the years. Then I started digging, and really began developing my original research into full articles. I also started a print version of the blog, the Strange Maine Gazette — which, incidentally, I haven’t given up on, but which has been on hiatus for the last two years due to a drastic change in my work schedule.

I published my first book “Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State” with the History Press in 2010, and continue to work on my next one, “Bigfoot in Maine.” I have at least five more books I want to do after that, because it turns out that Maine’s weird history is ENDLESS.

What’s your bookstore like? Full of books! No, really, it is. It’s well organized and covers a huge variety of topics, because if you have a curious mind, you’re going to want to range about from one subject to another as you think of things. That’s the kind of mind my shop is geared for. That and any book-loving mind in general!

I love good books, and books that pique my curiosity. I figure if a book looks interesting to me, it will look interesting to someone else. Every book that walks through the door gets cleaned before it’s put out for sale on my shelves. It’s a great way to get to know them before you hand them on to their next home.

You can find a few videos about the shop and some of my favorite fiction genres on YouTube in this series put together by Barry Dodd at Dodd Com Productions:

About the shop and its history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06FZa_yqnS4

On mystery books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8t-wepDqbw

On scifi/fantasy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8t-wepDqbw

On the horror genre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KerIiU0RU8

What got you into Bigfoot?

Bigfoot falls under the category of weird nonfiction, a favorite of mine. Bigfoot ties together the topics of history, folklore, zoology and geography. It’s a conundrum. There are all these stories out there, new and old, from all around the world.

So far as Maine goes, most of the people I’ve talked to are genuinely surprised and astonished by what they’ve seen, and most have nothing to gain from making up a story about something that didn’t happen. So obviously people are experiencing something real. The question remains — what is it?

My current mission is to collect and record stories from people who have experienced strange encounters with large unidentified bipedal mammals in Maine. So far it’s been a really interesting process. I’ve spent the last several years sifting through neglected historic encounters in old newspapers and books, accounts dating back into the 1700s, and in doing so I became more and more interested in finding the stories from recent years and comparing them.

A lot of those stories aren’t in any book, or any online database. People who know these stories are out there, and they’ve talked about them only with their close friends and relatives. Their experiences have happened everywhere from up in Aroostook and out in the Allagash all the way down to areas only a few miles outside of most major Maine cities. My job is to make sure they all get written down somewhere.

Anyone who wants drop me a line about their own Bigfoot-related experiences in Maine can contact me any of the following ways:

Email: [email protected]

Cell: 207-450-6695 (evenings and by chance)

Mail: P.O. Box 5302, Portland, ME 04101

Have you ever had a close encounter with the big-footed one yourself? How about UFOs? Sadly, no. I’ve always wondered if my photographer’s reflexes would kick in fast enough if I ever did! That would be amazing — not only getting to experience this mind-blowing phenomena, but also getting a record of it. I’m all about documentation.

What was your process for writing the book? Both of my books have started with blog posts. I have an endless sense of curiosity. Once I start digging at something, I want to keep going. The blog post is often the germ of an idea, or the kernel, that will grow to be a major research project. I start with a rumor, maybe a location, if I’m lucky a name and a date (I’m not often that lucky!). I start digging — in libraries and archives, old books and newspapers.

If one route of inquiry dead-ends, I try coming at it sideways via a detour, and I repeat this over and over. I’m hunting for a needle in a haystack. Some days I’m like a raccoon washing a sugar cube. There is a lot of time that goes into what turns out to be . . .  nothing. But sometimes . . . sometimes there’s a prize in the sugar cube! And then the little raccoon (that’s me!) gets to follow a breadcrumb trail and gets a way bigger story than was ever expected. It’s very tedious, not at all glamorous, but every now and then it really does get exciting.

What’s your favorite Halloween destination? I must confess that Haunted Overload in Lee, N.H., is my absolute fave right now. It has worked its woodsy wiles on me! But really I will happily go to any haunt attraction I can get to in spite of my (scary!) seven-days-a-week work schedule. I love them all. It should be noted that my husband and I had our Halloween wedding the night before Halloween just so we could go to Universal’s Haunted Horror Nights for our honeymoon! Which was FANTASTIC.