Auburn man head writer on new, campy radio soap opera ‘Restless Shores’

LEWISTON — Milton is a hard-charging pharmaceutical CEO planning the family succession. Rhonda is his administrative assistant and scheming mistress.

Miguel is a mysterious stranger trying to uncover his past. The only clue: A bracelet his mom wore when she escaped from a medical facility. When Miguel gets to Gamote Point, the bracelet starts vibrating.

It’s all unfolding on “Restless Shores,” a new Maine-made campy, retro radio soap opera, dropping as a weekly podcast from New Meadows Media of West Bath.

Head writer Greg Tulonen lives in Auburn. His lengthy writing and occasional-acting credits include working on the tech crew and volunteering to be an on-screen security guard in 1994’s “Time Chasers,” a small indie movie that caught the attention of cult fan favorite “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

“They made fun of me personally because I get punched out by the hero,” said Tulonen, 49, laughing.

He’s penned 20 episodes of “Restless Shores” and is at work on four more to wrap the season. Episode three hits iTunes and Buzzsprout on Friday.

“We have an evil twin, we have scandal and intrigue, we have art forgery, the FDA gets involved,” said Marsha Hinton, series creator with her husband, Thom. “Any trope you can think of for a soap opera, Greg is incorporating that in and it’s just so much fun.”

Tulonen was born in Lewiston but moved away as a toddler, growing up in Massachusetts and Montana. As a kid, he collected old radio shows and started writing. He and his wife, also a Maine native and a teacher at Central Maine Community College in Auburn, moved back to the state 12 years ago.

He was working as a website producer at Fox 23 when colleagues there started the web series “Ragged Isle,” a supernatural soap opera set in Maine, in 2011. Tulonen became head writer.

The series ran for three years and won several Indie Soap Awards for best drama, best web series and best cinematography. 

“(That experience) was amazing, it was incredibly ambitious — we had over 40 actors, we had dozens of locations all over Maine,” Tulonen said. “We deliberately only used Maine talent. Every actor, every musician, every makeup artist, and we competed at the national level.”

An actress on the “Ragged Isle” series recommended him to Hinton when she was looking for a writer for “Restless Shores.” He was brought in after she wrote the first two episodes.

The series stars voice actors Zachary Hoogkamp, Sally Kent, Nathan Austin, Denise Shannon, Emily Grotz, Aaron Sanchez, Shirley Savage, Josh Flanagan, Katrina Loef and Stan Allen.

The roughly 10-minute episodes are recorded around four microphones at the Hinton’s home with actors getting to interact with each other. Thom Hinton directs.

“I love the format, it’s a fun way to tell a story where there’s one piece missing, where you can’t see what’s happening,” Tulonen said. “The genre is inherently goofy, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean you don’t get hooked on the story and want to find out what happens. For me, the pleasure of writing in this format is there’s always more stories to tell.”

Tulonen’s other projects include a yearlong web comic called “Actual Conversations With My Sons,” based on verbatim conversations he’d been writing down since each of his children was 2. They’re now 15 and 13.

He’s planning a Kickstarter campaign for his first graphic novel, “Night is Falling,” in April. It’s set in Maine in the summer of 1977. Pets have gone missing, women have gone missing.

“(A group of friends) come to realize that a vampire is taking over their town and they know they will not be believed, so they decide to take care of it themselves,” he said.

Tulonen, who works at Community Health Options, said he challenges himself to write every day.

“There’s always (projects) going on,” he said. “I’ve got a screenplay kicking around, I’ve got web series kicking around, I’ve got podcasts.”

But first, what’s up in Gamote Point? And with Miguel’s bracelet? There will be some answers in the weeks ahead. He’s waiting to see the series’ listenership numbers before writing either the end or, he hopes, a cliffhanger for season two.

KATHRYN SKELTON, SUN JOURNAL

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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