History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Guest Post: Trish Heinrich on Real World Locations in Fiction

Today, I’ve got a guest post from local author Trish Heinrich, who is in the process of relaunching her awesome superhero series, The Vigilantes!


By Trish Heinrich

When I was first thinking about the world of my Vigilantes superhero universe, I knew a couple of things for sure.

First, that I wanted it to be set in the past. And second, that I would use real world locations with a different name to construct my alternate universe.

I have been in love with Seattle since the first moment I drove past the Rainier brewery on I-5 and saw all those tall, gleaming buildings looking over the Puget Sound. So, there was no question my first book would take place in a Seattle-like city. Hence, Jet City was born.

Narrowing down the multitude of locations in Seattle for my book took some doing but I finally settled on a few key ones.

There’s The Dregs, which is a version of the International District. There’s Queen Anne, where the incredible Frost Mansion sits like a gleaming sentinel, overlooking the downtown corridor.

But there’s two places I want to focus on with you, because they have a special place in my heart.

The first is my main character, Alice’s, book shop: Atlas Books. This shop is modeled after the old, enchanting stores that make up my favorite neighborhood in Seattle: Pioneer Square.

When I would walk down the sidewalks of Pioneer Square, I always felt like I was strolling through a completely different city. The brick buildings with classic storefronts, pubs that have a charming combination of modern neon and old-time features, the wrought iron and glass walkway from the underground tunnel.

Fire escapes (which are an important part of the heroes’ escape plans!) can still be seen on half the buildings in Pioneer Square, some with the obligatory flower boxes from those that live in lofts over the stores and pubs. The street lamps look like old oil lamps and white lights adorn the trees that divide the street. With its air of mystery and charm, it was the perfect location for Alice’s book shop, a place where she feels the most at home throughout the book. It’s also the place where she runs into the mysterious Vigilantes of Jet City for the first time.

The second place I want to tell you about is Columbia City, or, as I call it in my book, Park Side.

When I wrote the first draft of Serpent’s Return, I was living in Columbia City and developers were just starting to help the neighborhood, which had a history of crime and poverty.

At first, the changes seemed to benefit the neighborhood. They built affordable town homes and businesses started getting major face lifts. But by the time I left, this influx of new life had turned mercenary. People were being forced out of homes and businesses they’d owned for generations due to high taxes and rents. Redlining and poverty had forced people into Columbia City when it was an undesirable little corner of Seattle and they had made the best of it and, in some cases, flourished. Now, all of that was being stripped from them when the affluent decided that Columbia City was worth something to them. It made me angry, to say the least.

So, I decided to put this in my Vigilantes books. Park Side is where my heroes grow up, where they fight bullies, where they face tragedy together. In Serpent’s Return, the first book of the series, we see some people trying to help the community by supplying infrastructure and supporting vital services. But by the third book, Steel’s Fate, greedy businessman see an opportunity and begin evicting people from their homes, raising rents so businesses fold and then demolishing the buildings to put up high rise apartments that only “good people” can afford. Though not the main conflict of the book, this is a conflict that our main hero, Alice, must fight not with her fists but with her influence. She struggles to out smart and out bid the men in Jet City in order to secure these homes and businesses for the people who have lived there all their lives.

This part of Alice’s character is very important to me. I wanted to show that heroism isn’t just punching the bad guy, but it’s also using what you have in a compassionate way. Alice has the business acumen and resources to help people with less, and she learns through hard lessons, that this is just as heroic, maybe even more so, than locking up the villain.

You can find Serpent’s Return and the rest of the Vigilantes books on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Thanks for reading and have a wonder filled day!


About The Author


Leave a Reply