Where on Earth is Pismawallops Island, and how did it get there?
For those new to my PTA mystery series, the setting is a fairly small island in Puget Sound (Washington State), way up nearly in Canada. So how did it get there, and what made me chose an island? Aside from the obvious answer (“why not?”), I actually have several good reasons, even not considering the pleasures of owning an entire island. Okay, I admit that Pismawallops doesn’t actually exist outside of my books and my imagination, but it’s still mine.
Why else an island? I grew up on one. An island, in fact, not radically different from Pismawallops Island. So there’s an obvious attraction there—it’s easy to set a book in your hometown, and even easier if you make it a fictional version of your town. Pismawallops isn’t Vashon Island, but there are influences.
My childhood island is about 14 miles long, 6 miles wide, and when I was a kid had about 10,000 year-round residents. When my mom grew up there in the 1930s and 40s they had a lot of summer people, but by my time the summer cottages had mostly been refurbished for year-round use (or just moved into and occupants left to shiver through the winters). Vashon provided a couple of key elements I knew my fictional island had to have. For one thing, it has its own school district. I didn’t want some big-city administrators interfering with the operations of my little island, so I borrowed that element even though Pismawallops is probably too small to get away with it in the real world.
The second really key element was limited access. Pismawallops, like Vashon, is accessible only by ferry. I like islands that *are* islands. Some of my favorite childhood stories are set on islands of one sort or another, and the more remote the better. The limited access also lets me treat the island more like the isolated British country house of a different era of mystery writers. I honestly don’t know how mystery writers manage urban settings, where to me it feels like the suspects are infinite.
So what other islands have I known, besides the one I grew up on? Pismawallops is influenced by the San Juan Islands, also in Puget Sound. I never got to live there, but I did several bicycle trips there in my younger years, and somehow even to this girl from an island not so far off, they felt exotic. I borrowed heavily from the feeling of isolation and sparseness of population I got cycling on Lopez Island and even San Juan Island.
Other favorite islands are less apparent in the genesis of Pismawallops: Wizard Island, in the middle of Crater Lake. Alcatraz. Angel Island, where you can camp out and admire the San Francisco skyline all night. Every single little island off the Maine coast (even though I haven’t visited any, they have appeared in so many books I’ve read that just looking at them from the shore evokes adventure). Prince Edward Island, of course. I haven’t visited it, either, but Anne of Green Gables was a fixture of my childhood.
Of course, if we want to get a little larger, there’s Great Britain, and finally, ever and always the islands of my heart, New Zealand. With all that love of islands, can you wonder any longer that when I decided to invest in some imaginary real estate, I invented an island?
Death By Donut (A Pismawallops PTA Mystery)
by Rebecca M. Douglass
About Death by Donut
Death By Donut (A Pismawallops PTA Mystery)
5th In Series
Independently Published (May 16, 2021)
Digital ASIN: B08VKSZV2D
Election day’s almost here, and the island’s new pool is on the line. JJ should be all in with the campaign, but when a prominent Island businessman drops dead at her feet in the Have-A-Bite Bakery, someone has a mystery to solve. JJ’s fiancé—police chief Ron Karlson—is out of town. Who else is there?
JJ is missing her sweetheart, tired of the winter rains, and distracted by everybody’s questions about when the wedding’s happening. Even more worrying, her foster-daughter’s father has failed to show up on schedule. No wonder JJ’s struggling to wrap this one up before someone else bites into the wrong donut. There’s no time to lose, because something truly essential is on the line: saving the bakery—and JJ’s favorite espresso brownies!
About Rebecca M. Douglass
Rebecca M. Douglass was raised in Washington State on an island only a little bigger than Pismawallops. Though she has lived most of her adult life in California, the salt waters of Puget Sound continue to call to her and she enjoys owning an island in the Salish Sea, even if she had to invent one to do so! Rebecca has written a number of children’s books as well as her Pismawallops PTA mysteries and has had short stories published in several anthologies. When she isn’t writing, she likes to spend her free time hiking and biking, and her vacations exploring the outdoor world by camping, hiking, and backpacking.
Smashwords Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NinjaLibrarian
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5755891.Rebecca_M_Douglass
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