Yellow pine and northern lakes, tumbleweeds and sage, new schools, rodeos, New York City sky scrapers, and beautiful rainy Portland. Twenty years in Oregon’s nascent wine country.
This is my journey. Place speaks clearly to me. It puts its stamp on my soul. Some days the smell of wet bark comes to me out of nowhere, and I recall freshly cut logs floating in booms on Lake Coeur d’Alene. I feel the lake where we spent our summers swimming and taste the cakes Mom baked for our birthdays. At other times, it’s the aromas of coffee and frying steaks on Saturday nights in the Whitman College dining room. Cigarettes, cheap wine, and wind blowing off the Palouse. The color of skies and sunsets. Sweat and urine subway smells, or horse dung and dust and the roar of a rodeo crowd. I see the many, misted valleys where grapes are grown and smell wine grapes fermenting.
Everything has changed now, but I remember it so well because I’ve had the opportunity to be there and write about it. All of it. In journals, magazine articles, wine columns, the magazine I founded and edited, and books. First nonfiction, and now fiction.
I will never be a famous person. As my fellow Oregon author Jane Kirkpatrick once said, “Oprah doesn’t know my name.” But I’m a good story teller. Throughout my adult life, and before, everything in my heart pointed me to writing. I graduated University of Oregon with a degree in journalism, and I wrote while I reared two beautiful, smart children; while I managed a household and cooked for our harvest crews; during the times I held various jobs; while I edited a magazine; and, when the darkest of days came and I had nothing else but writing.
I care about stories, and the fires where people clustered to hear them before there was the written word. I care about books, so I write them. I care about mystery writing because there is a puzzle to be solved, because there is resolution, and most often because in the books I read and write there is justice.
Writing isn’t easy, but it is the only thing I seem to know how to do.