Friday, September 9, 2011

Forks, WA: Tourist Haven for Twilight Lovers

Two weeks ago my husband had business out on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state and I joined him for an extended pleasure trip of stunning Pacific Ocean scenery and wildlife. One morning we stopped in the little town of Forks for coffee. Forks used to be a thriving lumber town. Now it is a thriving literary haven for Twilight fans. I am not going to pretend to be a big fan of the series, but I do admire the excitement it has brought to readers, to the point of visiting the fictional locations of Bella and Edward's haunts.

I chatted up the clerk at the grocery store and learned that Stephanie Meyer has visited Forks twice, once after the first book came out and later after one of the movie premieres. It's fairly well known that Meyer chose the rainiest/foggiest town in America for her setting, researching the location on the Internet. We don't always need to visit the locations of our stories. But we do need to evoke a deep sense of place in our stories. Does Meyer evoke the essence of Forks in her Twilight books? Apparently so. To the point, that the Chamber of Commerce even designated on a map a home that Bella likely would have lived in and the Italian restaurant in Port Angeles where Bella and Edward likely had their first date.

As Cheryl posted recently, setting is always a big factor in our writing - where our stories take place and where we live while writing them. Few authors have devoted fans who visit their story locations. But we can all work on writing vivid settings that draw readers in. What's a popular literary haunt in your part of the country?

Through sunshine and hurricanes, fall leaves and winter snow, write on.


  1. My family went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in DeSmet, SD, in July. It was pretty great. Between the trip to South Dakota and moving to Connecticut, we traveled US I-90 from Rapid City, SD to Springfield, MA this summer. You really get a sense of how surprisingly different that central plains landscape was for the pioneers in her books.

    It's interesting that Stephanie Meyer set her book somewhere she had never been. Commenters on my recent post tended to lean toward settings they already knew in rich detail. Meyer seems to have imagined the key values of the setting, and then looked up the details to flesh it out.

  2. Maybe because of Ron’s spending time on the censored shelf with Mark Twain, I’ve been thinking of Twain recently. And now with this discussion about setting, I'm pondering his choice of the Mississippi River as the setting for Huck Finn.

    He loved the Mississippi River and that’s probably one reason he set his book there, but even if he hadn't, he might have chosen the river because, from a story-telling standpoint, it’s so powerful.

    Powerful because the river is one place and many places all at the same time. Different parts of the river bring different experiences. Different towns along the river allow Twain to introduce new characters into the story.

    The river is also a powerful setting because this setting is outside of society, outside of politics, and allows Twain to show us a different society--that of Huck and Jim--than would be possible in town. And we readers have the constant implied contrast between river and town.

  3. I am quite sure that Forks doesn't measure of to the powerful settings of the Mississippi River and the South Dakota prairie, but am grateful it inspired your comments.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Claire, I used to lived near Forks, but never realized it was home to vampires. (Darn it!) It makes sense, though, with the long winter nights, lack of sunshine, fog...

    We also lived near Cannery Row. Steinbeck a is a part of the cultural history there, in Monterey, California. The place feels Steinbeckish.

  7. Oh, I love Cannery Row. I took the kids to the Steinbeck museum in his hometown of Salinas, CA many years ago - fabulous.