In The Writer's World

The State of the State

July flew by. What can I say? Margie returned safely to Australia, via two weeks in Toronto and Montreal. I settled back to whatever normal is these days, and managed to get a ton of writing done. Let us hope August is as generous.

The State of the Novel

A truly special day this past month was a trip up the Columbia River Gorge to Carson Hot Springs. I can tell you this much about the novel-in-progress: it is set in a fictional location near where Carson is located, a few miles east of Stevenson on the Washington side of the Columbia.

The original resort was founded in the early 1900s by the property’s owners, homesteaders Isadore and Marguerite St. Martin. Isadore was of Canadian and Iroquois descent. Marguerite was daughter of

Members of the St. Martin family are buried in this small family cemetery on the grounds of the Carson Hot Springs Resort.

Members of the St. Martin family are buried in this small family cemetery on the grounds of the Carson Hot Springs Resort.

Marguerite Tchniouke, a Chinook Indian, and Amabel Arquette. The couple discovered hot mineral water in the seam faults along the river, and Marguerite St. Martin made good use of the water’s healing properties and her own knowledge of the curative powers of herbs to help others.

I had been to Carson once years ago for a soak, wrap, and massage. Fantastic. But it was rustic then. Unimaginably so. And I remember thinking about how the place must have drawn motorists in the 1920s and 1930s–how those old iron bed frames and dangling light bulbs were probably de regueur back when many folks still didn’t have indoor plumbing. The bath house was, and still is, a relic, with its lovely old clawfoot tubs.

Everything else has changed. While the false-front Hotel St. Martin still stands, it is surrounded with modern hotel facilities and a golf course. And, it was while driving to the hotel that Margie and I took a wrong turn and discovered the St. Martin family cemetery.

It was miraculous. This is the stuff from which novels are born! This is why one visits and often revisits the locale, no matter what one remembers from last time.St. Martin Hotel Something always turns up–always!–and you never know when or where or what until you get there. Later, in the hotel lobby, we read an article about a murder that happened at the hotel back in the day. By the time we got out of there I was practically foaming at the mouth!

From putting my feet on the ground I felt the place and its history. I am not writing about Carson Hot Springs or the St. Martins. I wouldn’t presume to. Their history is theirs. But from being there, a fictional history began to solidify. Magic happened. And inspiration. What a special place indeed.



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  • Jessie Thaten Allen says:

    Nothing like a good road trip with an old chum!

  • Linda Eguchi says:

    Love this, Judy! What a fantastic location for your next story.

  • Jennifer says:

    I haven’t been to Carson Hot Springs for 20 or more years so this is an inspiration for another trip. Can’t wait for this new novel!

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