The Joy of Being a Hometown Hero

This article about one of LB’s Seattle area neighbors makes a very good case for starting and actually finishing your dream writing project – without ever talking about its subject, author Rachel Fordham, in those terms.

Marrowstone Island author releases debut novel
by Diane Urbani de la Paz

NORDLAND — Meet the author who celebrated the release of her debut novel at Chuck E. Cheese’s, with a side trip to a particular store.

Between the writing, the agent-shopping, the editing and the publication, Rachel Fordham spent better than three years bringing her first book into the world.

“The Hope of Azure Springs,” the story of a young woman who transcends the poverty and neglect of her girlhood, was published this month. And Fordham, mom to seven children ages 2 to 12, was almost too busy for a party.

Her husband Tyler, a dentist in Port Townsend, was away at camp with their older kids. So she took the younger ones to Silverdale, where they could eat at Chuck E. Cheese and see her book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.

“You’ve got to tell someone, Mom,” said 8-year-old Adele.

Fordham, 34, has done some radio interviews. Her publisher, Revell Books, is promoting “Azure Springs” nationwide. The author can do much of the promotion, such as the writing and research, at her home on verdant, rural Marrowstone Island.

It all began late at night, while the kids were sleeping. Fordham would write until the baby awoke for feeding at 1 a.m. or so. At least once, the infant slept all night, so she kept writing until daybreak.

Fordham was a storyteller long before she became a novelist. She’d tell her kids bedtime stories: complex ones that continued night after night. The audience, enchanted, would beg for more.

At the same time Fordham has a fierce interest in history. She grew up in Shelton, and has moved all over the country, living in Idaho and in Buffalo, N.Y. When she learned about the orphan trains of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, she got on board to find out more.

Between 1854 and 1929, the so-called “mercy trains” relocated some 250,000 orphaned or abandoned children from the cities of the East and took them to foster families mostly in the Midwest, according to the National Orphan Train Complex website, orphantraindepot.org.

“I read through enough personal accounts of train riders to know that there were beautiful stories of orphans finding homes,” Fordham said, “and that there were tragic stories of children being placed in homes where they were neglected and abused.”

Both appear in “Azure Springs.”

Em, a 19-year-old orphan at the start of the story, is separated from her younger sister, Lucy. She is adopted by a man who leaves her to sleep in his barn, while Lucy goes to live with a family in a town far off; years pass before Em gathers the resources to search for her. Along the way, Em becomes friends with Caleb Reynolds, an unusual man also struggling with loss.

“Azure Springs” is set in a fictional town in Iowa, but Fordham bases the story on her research into what is now called the orphan train movement. She didn’t have an easy time with the project….

Read it all at Peninsula Daily News.Com