The opening scene in my newest novel, Cascadia, is set in a Clatsop Indian village on the Pacific Northwest coast over three hundred years ago. Based on research, I placed the village on the present site of Seaside, Oregon.
I’m not entirely certain there was an Indian village there in 1700, the date of the scene, but I do know there were several small Clatsop settlements in that area in 1805 when members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived. Thus, I assumed there was likely one there a century before that.
In setting the location of the village, I referred to journal excerpts from the Expedition, as well as terrain and topography maps.
The spot where I set my Clatsop community is built up and commercialized now, of course—Seaside is a town of about 7000 residents—but the location came to hold special significance for me as of a few weeks ago.
That’s when I received an invitation to do a reading and signing at a bookstore in Seaside in mid-September. Out of curiosity, I googled the location of the store, Beach Books. I did a double-take when I discovered the store is only a few hundred feet, on the opposite side of the Necanicum River, from where my fictional—but quite possibly very real—Clatsop Indian village stood.
How cool is this going to be? I thought. I get to read a scene from my book, standing on virtually the same ground where the action described took place on January 26, 1700.
What happened there on that date? you ask. That’s when the last great megaguake and tsunami slammed the Pacific Northwest. So while it will be kind of neat to revisit the geographic location of the scene, I in no way wish to revisit the great seismic event depicted. That, I hope, will be relegated only to the pages of my novel for many years yet to come.