Author Doig talks about writing, filming Olympic Peninsula history

PORT TOWNSEND — When Ivan Doig read an excerpt from his book, Winter Brothers, most of the audience was already familiar with it.

So are Todd Beuke’s students.

“I teach Pacific Northwest history, and use his description of what in means to be in the West, to be Western, in my class,” Beuke said.

“He’s my favorite author.”

Beuke, who teaches middle school in Sequim, came to Port Townsend on Sunday to hear Doig speak at the Jefferson County Historical Society’s annual Founders’ Day meeting.

Held at Wheeler Theater at Fort Worden State Park, the program drew Western literature fans from around the Peninsula to meet Doig in person and hear him talk about writing Winter Brothers, based on the journals of pioneer James Swan.

“It was like sitting in on a conversation with him,” said Tim McNulty, a naturalist, writer and poet who came from Sequim for the program.

Doig, 67, has lived in Seattle for 40 years, but was born in Montana, the setting of his first book, This House of Sky, and his later novels.

But the author researched his second book, Winter Brothers — A Season at the Edge of America, at the Jefferson County Historical Society research library.

Doig also spent the winter of 1978 and 1979 visiting places on the Olympic Peninsula where Swan had gone, including Neah Bay, and blending his impressions with those of Swan, who was a student of nature, native culture and art.

“It’s a journal of a journal,” Doig said.

“I was exploring back and forth between his era and mine.

“Swan provided a path back into that period of time that interested me the most — the American West.”

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