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Talking Location With Gretchen Rue: Pacific Northwest

15th September 2023

TalkingLocationWith… Gretchen Rue, author of Something Wicked : Pacific Northwest

While Raven Creek, Washington is a fictional location, it is directly inspired by some of my favorite places in the Pacific Northwest. I took in details about places I’d visited in real life and crafted my very own unique piece of heaven (where there just so happen to be occasional murders).

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One of the biggest inspirations for the town of Raven Creek is the real city of Leavenworth in Washington. Leavenworth is frequently mentioned in the books (and is also the setting of Ellie Alexander’s wonderful Sloan Krause mysteries). In Leavenworth you’ll find a small Bavarian village transplanted into the Washington mountainside. It feels like an unexpected walk through the Alps on American soil, and the distinct German architecture and provisions only seek to deepen that illusion.

Gretchen Rue

Leavenworth 📸 Two Wandering Soles

In the fictional Raven Creek, the city planners were not nearly so focused in their theme. Main Street is an intentional mishmash of European inspiration, where Phoebe’s English-style bookshop and tearoom sits next to her friend Amy’s Parisian-inspired bakery. With cobbled streets and wrought iron streetlights, the town evokes a whimsical walk through Disney’s Epcot as much as it does a real European city. And it’s a town that does not skimp on seasonal expression. The people of Raven Creek embrace any holiday they can, with themed storefront displays and no shortage of public décor whether it be summer florals or Christmas lights. No time or expense is spared to make Raven Creek feel festive.

The autumnal setting of Something Wicked provides a perfect introduction to the fussy weather of the Pacific Northwest, as chilly rain and brisk evening temperatures permeate the book, inviting both the reader and our main character to snuggle up with their best cardigan and get cozy with a chubby cat.

Phoebe’s new house, inherited from her Aunt Eudora, is a two-hundred-year-old Victorian mansion. The original family home was a much smaller structure built by her great-times-many-grandfather, and pre-dates the establishment of Washington as a state, but that structure evolved over time to become the home she lives in now. It’s a grand old manor home in a slight state of disrepair, but one of the few houses in Raven Creek to earn its own name. Lane End House, aptly named, because it’s at the literal end of the road, and sits up on a hill overlooking most of the town. While it has a bit of a reputation as a witch house, it is also a lovely nod to eras gone by.

Gretchen Rue

📸 Pacific Northwest Photoblog

Leaving Lane End House and Main Street behind, Raven Creek becomes known for its lush hiking trails of varying difficulty and its seasonal birding. The covered bridges are also a noted highlight for any visitor, though their upkeep has become something of a point of contention for local town council members. If one were to look at an actual map of Washington and find the mining ghost town of Liberty on Williams Creek, you would have a good idea of what the views around Raven Creek look like. The location, situated at almost equal distance from Leavenworth and Seattle, puts it in a drivable distance for tourism, but also makes it remote enough that the locals feel isolated from much of what goes on in larger cities in the state. The area of the Cascade Mountain range is ideal for camping and day hikes, and provides wonderful unobstructed views of the stars at night. The area is nestled in a lowland between mountains, with Mission Peak to the east and Mount Stuart just slightly northwest. This means that no matter which way you look in Raven Creek there’s something beautiful for the eye to see.

📸 Peak Visor

With autumn setting in the area, the local mix of conifers and deciduous trees create a remarkable backdrop of colours. Douglas fir and red cedar dominates, but the mix of maple and aspen among them create a glorious backdrop for fall. Yellow is the dominant fall colour against the backdrop of gray mountain, green fir, and blue-gray sky. It’s a moody, atmospheric place to enjoy the chillier days, and the ideal setting for an amateur sleuth to solve a murder, and maybe find a little love along the way.

It’s also the ideal place to own a tea shop and book store, because what better way to spend a rainy evening than with a Gretchen Ruebook and a hot cup of tea, in a very special fictional town.

Something Wicked by Gretchen Rue, is published by Aria in paperback, Ebook on 14th September 2023.

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Catch the author on Twitter @sierradean 

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