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Talking Location with author Elena Taylor – Washington State

31st March 2020

TalkingLocationWith… Elena Taylor, author of All We Buried set in Washington State.

Roslyn and North Bend, Washington: Two Towns at The Confluence of Fiction and Reality 

I live near the confluence of three rivers. I also live near the confluence of fiction and reality.

My house sits on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. It’s the river made famous by the television show, Twin Peaks. Laura Palmer, as some of you might remember, is found at the base of Snoqualmie Falls.

A few miles downstream of my house lies Three Forks Natural Area. Here the North, South, and Middle Forks come together to form the Snoqualmie, which roars over the 268-foot drop at the foot of Salish Lodge.

In David Lynch’s universe, the Salish is known as the Great Northern. It’s a beautiful, historical hotel where locals often go for a fancy dinner or a Sunday brunch overlooking the valley below. We often take visitors to the viewing platform to gaze at the wonder of the amazing waterfall.

Elena Taylor

Elk in the road

But that’s not the only confluence of fiction and reality for the little community I live in. Grey’s Anatomy filmed in the region for various episodes, including season three, episode seven when the men go fishing. Part of the river they fish in runs through my backyard.

Elena Taylor

Mount Si

Various shots of Mt. Si—visible from my front yard—appear throughout the long-running medical show. Any time they want their characters to go out into the wilderness, North Bend is likely the background.

Middle Fork in the author’s back yard

Never mind they erroneously reference a “grizzly attack” in one season (there hasn’t been a grizzly bear in the Western Cascades for decades).

Or that the famous house Derek built Meredith is actually filmed at Poo Poo Point in Issaquah, a spot where people jump off the mountain to paraglide. There are still glimpses of my stunningly beautiful valley scattered throughout various seasons.

Which leads me to my latest novel, All We Buried.

While I live in a small town—North Bend, Washington, has a population just shy of seven thousand—I wanted my intrepid sheriff, Bet Rivers, to have a more isolated community with a little more of the wild west feel of some of Washington’s other historical communities.

To the east, not far from North Bend, lies Snoqualmie Pass. Once over the pass, drivers drop down into eastern Washington and find another small town, Roslyn.

Roslyn also sits at the intersection between fiction and reality.

Made famous by Northern Exposure, Roslyn is a turn-of-the-last-century mining town, perfect for All We Buried. The only problem with Roslyn is that it’s located right on Interstate 90, the largest east/west highway in the state. Not exactly isolated.

So, I created the fictional town of Collier, Washington, and used a lot of the details of Roslyn to infuse my fictional town with real-world descriptions. I mined the local area for quirks that make Roslyn special, and therefore Collier, unique.

For example, I love the Roslyn cemetery that incorporates more than twenty-five sections, each hosting a different ethnic group or fraternal order. A variety of hedges, walls, and fences encircle each section, making the cemetery diverse but separated.

The town’s brick and false front architecture makes the perfect backdrop for the isolated and “wild west” tone of Collier.

There were even two horrific mine accidents in Roslyn, as occurs in my fictional Collier, though the details of the events are very different. Roslyn’s occurred in 1892 and 1909, whereas Collier’s occurred in 1910. The conditions of the accidents are also quite distinct, with very dissimilar outcomes.

To make Collier more isolated, I imagined it somewhere north of Roslyn. I placed it near the very real Three Brothers Peaks. In my fictional Collier, a single road leads up from highway 97, which exits in the real world, and ends in a hanging valley, high in the mountains.

Snoqualmie Valley, where North Bend is located, is also a hanging valley. Once again, a confluence of fiction and reality occurs in my novel.

A hanging valley creates an isolated ecosystem. I have infused my fictional valley with some of the details of Snoqualmie Valley where I live, including a large number of elk, who wander around town, safe from hunters as long as they stay in the valley itself.

Elena Taylor

To keep my imaginary town straight in my mind, I have a map of Roslyn tacked to the wall above my computer. But to keep up with the fiction, I have it tacked sideways, so the locations which are east and west in Roslyn, run north and south in Collier.

People come from all over the world to visit our beautiful, idyllic community, and Roslyn as well. I count myself lucky to live here. But I also love to live in Collier, even if it’s only in my mind. I hope you will come visit me in both.

Thank you so much to Elena for sharing this beautiful part of the world with us!

Catch Elena via her website and on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, and Insta

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  1. User: Judith Works

    Posted on: 31/03/2020 at 6:11 pm

    Elena lives “up the road” from me. The towns she describes are typical of Western Washington at the foot of the Cascade Mountains which divide the state in two, rainy on the west side near Puget Sound, and east – high and dry.


    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 04/04/2020 at 4:48 pm

      Lovely to hear from you! This is such a lovely article!