John Evison Talks About His New Book, "West of Here"

Local author Evison dishes on writing his latest work, an epic tale centered on the 1890s founders o

ARTIST: Jonathan Evison
Bainbridge Island–based author
BOOKS: The coming-of-age novel All About Lulu, which earned the 2009 Washington State Book Award, and the just-released West of Here, an epic tale centered on the 1890s founders of Port Bonita, a fictional Washington coast town based on Port Angeles.
READINGS: Various area bookstores 2/15–2/19, including Elliott Bay Book Company (2/17). See for details.  
By Brangien Davis

BD: You’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1976. At what point did you start thinking you wanted to write a novel set here?  
JE: I’ve wanted to write a big Northwestern novel as long as I can remember. I grew up on a steady diet of Steinbeck, and I’ve always wanted to represent my beloved Olympic Peninsula and its people, to bring them to life for the rest of the world to see, much in the way Steinbeck brought central California to life.

The topic and scope of West of Here seem like quite a leap from All About Lulu. How did we get here?  
JE: I wanted to write a great big, shaggy piece of literary Americana, one that would really push me as an artist. A book that would last. A book big enough to get lost in and exciting enough to rouse the wilderness of the spirit like a Jack London novel.

BD: Rumor has it that, as a literary genre, the novel is dead.
JE: Oh, please. Parts of the commercial publishing paradigm might be dead or dying, but the novel is doing just fine. I think a lot of young writers are dusting off their elbow patches, shedding the vagaries of post-modernism (whatever the hell that is), and getting back to good old-fashioned storytelling, and that’s going to get people reading novels again, I’m telling you.