My name is Gar LaSalle and I’d like to welcome you to my Widow Walk Stories blog.
Widow Walk is a historical fiction novel I have just released based around real events that occurred in the mid-nineteenth century Pacific Northwest involving conflict between “aboriginal” native American tribes and the early settlers of the coastal British Columbia and the Puget Sound area of the Oregon-Washington Territory. Events in the book include the revenge murder on Whidbey Island by “Northerner Indians” of a prominent U.S. citizen, Isaac Ebey – the Isaac Evans in our story – in late 1857 which prompted his family to attempt retrieval of his remains. At the same time, boundary dispute between the British and the United states led to a confrontation involving U.S. Army troops under the command of Captain George E. Pickett and the British Navy on San Juan Island in 1858. General Winfield Scott was dispatched from Washington D.C. to San Juan Island to mediate a stand down, but the boundary issue was not resolved until 1872 when Kaiser Wilhelm I officiated a resolution.
The sequels will follow characters developed in the first book.
As a resident of the Pacific Northwest (I grew up in a large extended family and lived in the Italian “Garlic Gulch” section of Rainier Valley), I have a strong connection to the story and the characters, both real and fictional, who are portrayed in it. The story resonates with me for several reasons.
As a salmon fisherman working on a “reef-netting” boat off of Lummi Island one summer, I heard regional lore of how the peaceful Lummi Tribe had to continually contend with “raiders from the North.” Over the years I have heard similar accounts relayed by story-tellers of other Pacific Northwest coastal Native American Tribes. Many of the elements of the Widow Walk story, particularly the ones about the tribal totems, the myths of the Raven, “the Northerners” and their terrifying slaving raids, come from stories I heard or created for my children when they were little. My historical research took me into the archives of the Washington State Historical Society and up to Canada onto Vancouver Island and beyond.
One of the events depicted in the story occurred within sight of my studio on Maury Island. I have often imagined what the native Americans saw when looking out over the vistas they commanded on South Puget Sound – what the sight of European ships or Northerner raider canoes must have meant to the natives who lived there.
During my many years practicing as a trained emergency physician, I have witnessed the impact of violence on a community and the tragic personal consequences that endure for generations. Proceeds from Widow Walk will be donated to one or more yet to-be-named organizations for the support of women victims of violence and abuse.
I wrote Widow Walk after visiting the site of the massacre – it is one mile away from the Emergency Department on Whidbey Island in Coupeville that I managed in my early years as an ER director. The site is considered “haunted” by some Whidbey Islanders.
Originally, the story was developed as a treatment for a “spec” screenplay, but a producer-director friend, Nick Kazan, encouraged me to work it into a novel first. We are developing Widow Walk for consideration for film and are developing a pitch for a television series. The audio book version is in recording.
A little about me:
Although I spend a lot of time shuttling cross-country between a home in Seattle and my company’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, I keep a studio on Vashon-Maury Island where I raised my family. Much of the sculpture I have done was created there. My studio is equipped for producing a variety of works in ceramics, stone-work, wood carving and turning, metal fabrication (bronze), welding and jewelry making.
A few pictures of the sculpture etc. are appended here. I do not consider myself a professional sculptor, but did have the privilege of studying with the Italian sculptor, Bruno Lucchese, http://www.brunolucchesi.com when I was in medical school in NYC. I love the tactile sensuality of the form and have always respected the earnest honesty of the process. I find that celebrating in the more routine rituals of sculpture – the very physical sanding, polishing, burnishing, turning and carving of objects – are also times for meditation and working through problems and challenges that later come out in my writing. I sculpt when I can.
Basalt sculpture, “Psyche” photos of the process that I completed a few years ago. This stone is 7′ x 3′ x 3′ and weighs 3.5 tons. It is extremely hard stone, very brittle, and must be carved and polished with diamond pneumatic grinders. The piece took 2 years to complete and now sits overlooking one of the ponds.
On this blog you will find some historical entries that will help provide context and background for the stories portrayed in Widow Walk, some information about the Native Americans and settlers who play a vital role in the plot and in Pacific Northwest history, and some current posts reflective of art, food, and culture in the Pacific Northwest of today.
I hope you enjoy what I write here and invite you to share this blog with others and join the conversation via comments or by contacting me directly.