So one may have gathered, I’m a pretty nostalgic person. Visiting a preserved building or an historic landmark or city, I turn into a kid in a candy store. That’s about how I get when I’m in Port Townsend Washington. Being the mom of a four-year-old, I can hardly ever visit the small Victorian port town that is two hours and a ferry ride away from where I live, but not long ago I had the opportunity to go. My husband had the day off from work, so we decided that he would have a dad and daughter day with our rambunctious preschooler while I went and spoiled myself with a day vacation over in Port Townsend.
Seeing this gorgeous town is like seeing the setting of my novel come to life. When I wrote Eidolon, I took some of the scenery and historic landmarks from my hometown of Spokane and I combined it with the entire town of Port Townsend. The historic Hastings Building in Port Townsend, for example, became the Dalton Building in my novel. The history of Port Townsend has similar history to the fictional city in my novel.
Walking along the streets of Port Townsend, I can almost envision a time in the days of old; the days when sailors would come into the town and visit one of the various saloons, brothels, and opium dens; the days when upper class well dressed gentlemen linked elbows with lovely ladies in ruffled floor-sweeping gowns as they walked along the boardwalk (which today only has one plank remaining as a reminder of its existence) in Uptown Port Townsend.
That time period wasn’t as whimsical as movies and many authors like myself enjoy making it out to be, because amidst the upper class’s fancy attire, lavish balls, luxurious homes, and other attributes that made them seem like royalty in the fairy-tales we all read as kids, life for the poor was hell much of the time as they struggled to make ends meet, and while technology and medicine was the best of its day, things still weren’t like they are now; rich and poor alike were suffering or even dying of illnesses that today we can take over-the-counter medications to ease. While I don’t have an idealistic view of that time (or maybe I do; I think I’m still trying to figure that out for myself), there is still something intriguing about that era, at least for me. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
When I spent the day in Port Townsend, I got to feed my guilty pleasure and take a trip into the past, which is basically where I find myself when I’m writing my novels anyway. Every time I visit, I learn a little more about the town and the people who once upon a time called it home. Many people, including my husband, might find this boring, but I call it fun. Thank you, Port Townsend, for being my inspiration.