Washington Literary Hotspots

Find out why Washington’s landscape inspires so many storytellers.

Home to a slew of literary locales, Washington has served as a muse for many best-selling authors. Whether you’re a sap for vampire romances or chronicles of life on a Spokane Indian reservation, here’s a look at some literary works that helped put Washington’s regions on the map.

Washington Romance

The state’s rainy reputation moved Twilight author Stephenie Meyer to set her novels in the Olympic Peninsula logging town of Forks, but it’s the maritime charm of Port Orchard—hometown of romance writer Debbie Macomber—that shines in her Cedar Cove series. Nearby, quaint Bainbridge Island inspired David Guterson’s fictional San Piedro Island in Snow Falling on Cedars.

Fans of E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey should check out Seattle’s Escala condo tower, the fictional home of bondage-loving billionaire Christian Grey. Readers of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet can step back in time at the historic Panama Hotel in Seattle’s International District, while devotees of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? can venture to Queen Anne Hill, where the cranky title character seethed about the Emerald City’s many quirks.

Washington Chills

Looking for something a little edgier? Journey south on the Kitsap Peninsula to the site of the notorious “health” sanitarium depicted in Gregg Olsen’s true crime book Starvation Heights. If you’re hunting for Sasquatch, the ancient forests along the Columbia River are prominently featured in Molly Gloss’s Wild Life.

The San Juan Islands are the setting for the psychological thriller Folly by Laurie R. King, author of the highly acclaimed Mary Russell series, while Skagit Valley is where La Conner author Tom Robbins placed his quirky masterpiece, Another Roadside Attraction.

There’s plenty of literary action east of the Cascades, too, from Teri Hein’s Atomic Farmgirl, a memoir about growing up in the shadow of the Hanford nuclear reservation, to Amanda Coplin’s haunting novel, The Orchardist, set in the apple and apricot orchards of the Wenatchee Valley.

Washington Thrills

Spokane is the setting for a good chunk of Jess Walter’s darkly comic Citizen Vince, and the city’s historic Davenport Hotel was once the home of early 20th-century poet Vachel Lindsay. Still up for literary landmarks? The nearby Spokane Indian Reservation is home to both and the characters of his short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

—Diane Mapes

Photo Credit: Bloedel Preserve on Bainbridge Island