In Dear Maude, Book 1 of The Dear Maude Trilogy, the protagonist, Emily Stanton, is from St. Helens, a rural town just outside Portland, Oregon. If you check out a map, St. Helens is approximately 29 miles Northwest of Portland or about a 45-minute drive (speed zones, traffic, yep).
It was named for its view of Mt. St. Helens, which is across the Columbia River and a few hours north in Washington State.
Having grown up in Portland, I traveled to St. Helens and beyond many times, visiting friends and family. Like most of Western Oregon, St. Helens is green, full of trees, and just far enough from the big city.
If you’re looking for these in St. Helens, you won’t find them.
But, you will find plenty of these!
Also, St. Helens is about an hour from the coast, which, I have to say, is one of the most beautiful in the world.
Yes, but why a small town, and why St. Helens?
Since Emily led a sheltered early life surrounded by a close-knit family, I wanted to include the small-town element in her childhood. This greatly influences the choices she makes that eventually lead her into the world of time travel. When choosing a location for Emily’s home, I knew St. Helens was a perfect fit; close to Portland but still a small town. It also was an ideal spot to locate Emily’s grandparents’ house with lots of space on the property for the spare house where Maude spent her final days.
It's Emily’s love of family and home, and her desire for a reunion with both, that keeps her grounded while the world around her becomes more confusing by the second. So, finding a good hometown was important—and St. Helens was easily my number one choice.
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Next time, I’ll explore the dreaded corset!