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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Twilight Town

There's a disturbing trend in modern journalism for writers to use fleeting celebrity references as an excuse for responsible reporting. 

It was never that way with Stephanie Meyer and me.

Meyer is the fabulously successful author of the "Twilight" series of vampire books set in Forks.

Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. I have also written some stuff about Forks. My books have sold under a million copies.

Luckily, the economic vagaries of the publishing industry are irrelevant in the pursuit of an art form.

As writers, Stephanie Meyer and I share a kinship that is beyond words. We both have a warm spot in our hearts for Forks, a town that until recently was getting a lot of bad press.

In 2007 the book “Absolutely Worst Places to Live In America,” gave Forks an honorable mention as a “festering wound of a town.” 

Then there was a Sunday New York Times column where a Seattle writer called Forks a “big-eating, hard-drinking town that Seattleites find “forlorn,” “godforsaken” and “ugly.” 

These meandering screeds all had one thing in common — they hated loggers. They blamed the loggers for cutting down trees, endangering salmon and even changing the climate.

Meanwhile, it is the dinosaur print media that kills the trees and salmon. Books and newspapers are still manufactured with a process that requires massive amounts of water and electricity from dammed salmon streams and  pulp that comes from wood, cut by the loggers.

Forks was once the self-proclaimed logging capitol of the world. Then the loggers were blamed for endangering the spotted owl. So the tree-huggers shut down the loggers. Unfortunately the spotted owl population continued to decline.  Then the loggers became a threatened and endangered species.

As if that wasn't enough, about then Forks had a problem with illegal aliens. We were told that the Guatemalans only took the jobs the Mexicans no longer wanted.

It was hard to know who to blame. Then something odd and wonderful happened. Groups of tourists began taking each other's pictures at the "Welcome to Forks" sign.

The Twilight phenomena had begun.

Forks became a worldwide tourist destination for vampire groupies and those who study them.

I recently had an opportunity to meet with a professor of photojournalism from back East. (Anywhere east of Lilliwaup is back East to me.) 

He had traveled to the North Olympic Peninsula to study the economic impact of the “Twilight” book on Forks. I considered it my duty as an ambassador of all things “Twilight” to grant the professor an interview and set the record straight, off the record of course.

I told him in strictest confidence that the real reason Stephanie Meyer chose Forks for the location of her “Twilight” novels wasn't because it was the rainiest town in America, no. It was because of the fishing.

Forks  is named after The Forks Hole at the confluence of the Calawah and Bogachiel rivers. I told the professor that rumor had it that The Forks Hole was Stephanie Meyers favorite fishing hole.

I offered to float the professor down to The Forks Hole in my guide boat as long as he never used this knowledge for evil. There was a chance he could get a rare interview with Stephanie Meyer.

You never know. I sell dreams.

Unfortunately, Stephanie Meyer wasn't fishing The Forks Hole that day. All we got was a salmon for our trouble. 

I told the professor all we could do was try again the next day. With my help, the professor was able to gain a clearer understanding of the economic impacts of the “Twilight” phenomenon on Forks.   

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