Anyone who has read my books knows that Boston is my hometown and the setting for my Fina Ludlow series. That’s why some readers are surprised to learn that for the past nine years, my husband and I have lived in Seattle. In some ways, Seattle and Boston are alike: the ocean, great food, progressive politics, and thriving tech businesses. But they are different in other important ways: Boston is a city steeped in history (literally) while Seattle feels like a newer city with an influx of transplants.
I love both places, but I’m especially enamored with my neighborhood in Seattle, the downtown core, literally a stone’s throw from Pike Place Market. Living in an urban center—even a modest one by many standards—certainly poses challenges and exposes residents to the full range of human experience. Poverty, homelessness, and drug addiction are on full display when I walk out my door, but I also see people from all walks of life, of all colors and creeds. The diversity and the hum of downtown are a welcome respite from the solitary work of writing.
What are some of my favorite places in my neighborhood?
I grew up in a town by the sea just north of Boston, and I can’t be far from water. I can see Puget Sound from my home, and the Washington State ferry dock is just a short walk away. I love being out on the water, and the ferry takes me to one of my favorite bookstores, Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, WA. The return trip to the city is equally spectacular, offering a completely different perspective on the same set of buildings. The water and the weather systems that form over it are constantly changing and endlessly captivating. How could you ever be bored with an ocean in your sight line?
Another favorite spot in my neighborhood? The Seattle Public Library. The unique central branch designed by Rem Koolhaas opened in 2004. The building, with its glass exoskeleton and soaring ceilings, is a must-see for architect buffs and book lovers alike. I’m a big believer in the value of public libraries, and the SPL doesn’t disappoint. Need help with your homework? Want to practice a second language? Learn how to write a mystery? The library can help you, for free, no less!
No discussion of my neighborhood would be complete without a mention of Seattle’s most popular destination, Pike Place Market. To most people, the market is a tourist stop, but it’s my actual market. I get my produce from Sosio’s (shown in the picture,) and when I ask them what’s good, I know I’ll get spot-on recommendations. The Hmong flower sellers grow many of their blossoms just north of the city, and my butchers have been in business for generations.
But it’s more than just the fresh food and gorgeous tableau that make the market feel like home. When my husband and I were visiting the city, contemplating making the move, we noticed a quote nestled into the pavement at the edge of the market. It is a favorite quote of ours, one we had featured on our wedding program. Stumbling upon it that day seemed a clear sign that the road to Seattle was the right one to take.