Guardian of Your Soul is set in the fictional town of Mill Creek, Oregon. My vision for Mill Creek is a combination of the places in the Portland Metropolitan Area where I’ve lived, worked and played.
Like many authors before me, I am moved by the raw beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. Something about heading east on I-84 out of Portland and watching the terrain change with each passing mile always reminds me of stepping into another world, and perhaps even another time. Multnomah Falls is the first sign you’ve left the city far behind. If you visit the Pacific Northwest, be sure it is on your list. (Hint: weekdays are best to avoid the crowds). Stop here for coffee and take a hike up to the falls. Bring your camera, because everyone who visits Oregon needs a picture on the bridge in front of the falls.
As you head further east, you are greeted by steep cliffs and dense forests. You begin to get a sense of what it may have been like for early settlers to try and establish themselves in this unforgiving, yet majestic terrain.
As I wrote my novel, I envisioned a place with a history similar to those of Camas, WA or Oregon City, OR. Both towns were catapulted into the industrial age in the mid-1800’s with the arrival of paper mills and subsequently grew to support the massive production. Today, Oregon City boasts a population just under 32,000 and Camas is a bit smaller at 19,000. Mill Creek is larger than both at approximately 40,000.
Sadly, like Oregon City, the paper mill in Mill Creek was shut down several years ago and has been removed. Now, the city supports itself with timber and tourism. A large number of the population actually work in Portland, OR, but the ability to telecommute makes it possible to still enjoy the slower pace of this small town.
If you wanted to find Mill Creek on a map, it would be approximately where the city of Cascade Locks currently rests. Although Cascade Locks is very different from Mill Creek, it is still worth a visit. It offers a glimpse of what life in the Columbia River Gorge is like.
I hope you enjoy your journey to Mill Creek in my novel, Guardian of Your Soul. I’m planning to visit there myself as I work on a second book in this series.
Photos by Michael Middaugh