Saturday, March 2, 2013
COME TO ASTORIA by Muriel jensen
Hi, Everyone! A day late and a dollar short. That's me!
Really missed chatting with you on Friday, so now that Pamela fixed the problem for me, I thought we'd chat anyway.
I live at the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Astoria is a small town where logging, fishing, and canneries made it a force to be reckoned with for much of the last century. During World War II, the United States Navy had a large presence here. But today the world has changed, logging and fishing have fallen off considerably and Astoria now makes its way in the tourist trade.
We are the most beautiful spot on the Columbia River, a town built on a hillside that slopes down to the river on one side, and down to Young's Bay on the other. The hillside is green, the river is blue, and turn-of-the 20th Century homes in a myriad of colors meander down the hill from the Astor Column down to the maritime museum. The view is spectacular in the daytime and looks like a mound of treasure when it's lit up a night.
My very first book, WINTER'S BOUNTY, is set in Astoria because I was following the "write what you know" principle. After a few books, I completely ran out of what I knew, and worried that readers were getting tired of Oregon coastal settings. My editor assured me that small-town, cozy settings would always remain popular. That seems to have held true. The few of my books that weren't set on the Oregon coast took place somewhere in Massachusetts, where I lived until the age of ten. I was born in New Bedford, MA, the old whaling city, and can remember every store on every street between my home and the three blocks I walked to St. Anthony's Catholic School. It amazes me how strong those memories remain. I was brokenhearted a few years ago when I went home to visit and found that the spot where our apartment house stood was now a parking lot.
When I lived in New Bedford, it was a city of 200,000. When I created Maple Hill for my Men of Maple Hill series, I setit in western MA, which is so beautiful, and has many more smaller towns. My younger sister lives in Feeding Hills, so it's easy to get research materials.
Astoria remains my favorite setting because it has everything I need to create a romantic atmosphere. It doesn't snow very often, but it rains all the time! While that would be annoying to a lot of people, it's perfect for me because I stay home and work rather than go out and get soaked, and it's easy to imagine a couple stuck inside where it's cozy, tempted to talk about their relationship.
We have several Coast Guard ships, pilot boats that guide merchant ships over the bar and up the river, tug boats that push and pull barges and other boats, and fishing boats working in their short seasons. From my second-floor office window I have a spectacular view of the river and as I watch ships of all kinds go by, I wonder about the women waiting at home, praying for the safety of their husbands and boyfriends, and longing for them to come home. Romance abounds right outside my window!