Pam Withers: The Pacific Northwest is full of adventurers, and not just the armchair variety.
How do I know? Because I did a presentation in Portland, Oregon yesterday to 200 booksellers, librarians, publishers and other book lovers at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s Fall Tradeshow 2011.
If I had a penny for each one who came up to me afterwords and said, “I’m a kayaker” or “I’ve done river rafting” or “I’ve just signed up for kayak lessons and I’m so excited,” I’d have a bucketful of spare change.
My latest young adult novel, First Descent, is about a 17-year-old whitewater kayaker who goes on an international expedition to South America, links up with an attractive 17-year-old indigenous girl there, and then gets kidnapped. Oops! That is giving away too much. Let’s just say that the plot serves up action, adventure, danger, jealousy, abandonment and betrayal.
Pacific Northwesterners have a special passion for all of the above. I know, because I spent years guiding river raft trips and teaching kayaking in western Washington state, while working as a reporter and copy editor at the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. That was years ago, before I wound up in Vancouver — which is also densely populated with adventuresome types.
So I don’t know why I was surprised to have a long lineup of folks after my talk, eager to get autographed copies of First Descent, yes, but also eager to tell me about their own participation in my favorite sport. They hailed from Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon and Montana (perhaps from other states, too – it was a blur of name tags dancing in front of my eyes by the end of my visit). I enjoyed chatting with each and every person, and I sure hope they find that First Descent inspires the readers to whom they’re delivering the book.
Now I’m at work putting together a Pacific Northwest tour, where I hope to drop in on as many bookstores, public libraries and schools as are interested in having me. Especially the small-town Washington library that (so I was informed by the proud librarian) is the seventh oldest library in the United States. Can’t wait to go there!
Adventurous folks make a highly receptive audience to an adventure tale. And the Pacific Northwest has them in spades.