Real-life events from The Cycle of the Shen

Tina Bailey wrote to me about a line in The Cycle of the Shen where Terrell references a recent explosion at a motel in Bremerton, Washington. She wanted to know how it made it into the novel.

This was based on an actual event: Gas Explosion Reported at Bremerton Motel.

I traveled to Bremerton just after the accident occurred, and here’s a photo I took. You’re looking at the end of the motel that lost several rooms:

Motel 6 photo 2

There is a scene in the book where Terrell is instructed to empty the second floor tenants of the Victor Smith Building by claiming there was a gas leak. This scene was already in the story when the Motel 6 accident occurred. The coincidence of the explosion just after writing about one was a little creepy to me, so I inserted the reference to the Bremerton explosion during the final edit.

I like to set my novels around real historical events and places. Some other things from The Cycle of the Shen that are true:

  • There really was a Victor Smith, and he was a prominent leader in Port Angeles’ history. He died in the famous wreck of the Brother Jonathan.
  • Port Angeles was indeed laid out by the feds. It was known as the “Second National City.” The port of entry was briefly moved from Port Townsend to Port Angeles.
  • In 2003, a multi-million dollar graving dock project in Port Angeles uncovered the largest pre-European contact Native American village in Washington State, revealing more than 10,000 artifacts and 335 intact skeletons. The project was abandoned in 2004 and the land was returned to the  Lower Elwha Klallam tribe.


Writen by Michael Richan