Fiction, that magical storybook time machine that can have us on the edge of our seats in suspense. Keep us reading late into the night for just one more chapter. Or even transport us to an entirely new world in a few pages. Journeying into fiction is one of my guilty pleasures. It also feels much like a life force that has the ability to sustain me.
On a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon, I found myself in the position of appreciating fiction from three uniquely different vantage points. One as a writer. Another as a reader. Yet more surprising was when I saw a setting through the eyes of a character. You will soon meet Bernice from Stealing Mr. Smith when the title releases in September 2018.
I traveled by train from the quaint little corner of Bellingham, Washington known as Fairhaven to Portland’s Union Station. As a historical fiction author, I have to mention my love of train stations. The architecture, the moldings, the wooden benches, and the actual train itself. All of these inspire stories inside my head.
With a six hour journey to Portland ahead of me, I set about adding to the pages of my third historical fiction title, A Man Called Smith (eta 2019). The view, though smokey due to surrounding forest fires, was ever changing. I dove into the life of John Smith and proceeded to get lost in the fiction I was creating. Every break I took involved a glance at the passing scenery. The lakes, rivers, farmland, and animals all immersed in their own day, continued to spur my imagination forward.
As the train approached Tacoma, the sky began to clear of smoke. The clouds and the pristine blue were a welcomed reprieve from the smoke infiltrated sky of the past several weeks. It wasn’t just the improvement in weather that had Tacoma as a desired location for me to peek at. The city is a focal point in Stealing Mr. Smith where the protagonist travels to Tacoma in search of her new life. Seeking out insight and new knowledge as the train trundled down the track, I craned my neck to get a glimpse of what she would have seen when arriving in the city.
Upon arriving in Portland, one thing was at the forefront of my mind. When can we visit Powell’s Books? I am sure I asked this question more times than my husband wished to hear and those are just the times I actually voiced the question out loud. Powell’s has been on my list of bookstores to visit for several years so I was eager to emerge myself in the shop.
If you have never been, Powell’s Books is the largest independent bookstore in the world. Hosting over 500 author events each year, Powell’s is known for its massive retail space as well as for its rare book collection. Ever wondered if people read paperback and hard-copy books anymore? Visit Powell’s on any given day and you will see that “real” books are still in demand.
As a reader, I devoured the rows of titles. I enjoyed the companionship of chatting with other shoppers and Powell staff as I navigated the color coded rooms. The rare books room is most certainly a place to spend some time but then so is every other corner of the store.
With a towering pile of books waiting for me at home, I did not need to buy more. When it comes to fiction, need however is irrelevant and I left with seven additional titles to add to my growing tower. If you want to find out what I’m reading each month, sign up for my newsletter and follow along as I navigate reading, writing, travel, and the writing life.