[Insert Twilight Zone music here]

When I first decided to come to Washington to research my novel, I looked for a place on Bainbridge Island in order to be half way between the Suquamish Museum and the Seattle Central Library. My great-great-great-grandmother was reputed to have been Suquamish. And my great-great-great-grandfather was  the founder of the Wa Chong Company, the first Chinese business registered in Seattle. Their story is the germ from which my novel sprouts.

As I trolled through rentals on VRBO and Airbnb, I found and fell in love with the cottage that I’m ensconced in now. I noticed belatedly that it wasn’t actually a Bainbridge listing. Instead, the cottage is located in Port Orchard. Port Who? I’d never heard of it before, and on investigation it was further away from both the museum and the library. But, the heart wants what the heart wants, so I accepted the longer commutes.

On my first visit to the library, I made an appointment for a consult with their genealogy librarian. Chun Ching Hock, my great-great-great-grandfather I wrote, under Who are you researching? on the application form. When I showed up for my appointment, the librarian was welcoming.
“I’m also interested in Chun Ching Hock,” he said. He was researching a cemetery that CCH had some role in establishing.
“Have you seen this?” and he handed me a postcard.
“Oh yes,” I replied. “I wrote it.”
It was a card that I’d helped a distant cousin to create, when she’d wanted to encapsulate CCH’s role as an American pioneer. That was neat, I thought. It’s not often that someone hands you something you wrote.
“Look at this,” the librarian continued. “They had three sons, born in Port Orchard. Looks like they were living there.”
[Insert Twilight Zone music here.]

Another thing we found that afternoon was a reference to my great-great-great-grandmother being Duwamish, not Suquamish. Well, I thought, I guess I’ll have to go introduce myself to the Duwamish.
That evening friends asked if I’d have dinner with them “and a friend.”
“Who?” I said suspiciously.
“Oh, he’s a great guy. Intelligent. Blah. Blah. Blah. We used to race motorcross together, but I haven’t seen him much in the last two years.”
“He’s very involved with his tribe.”
“Which tribe?”
My friend sent a text.
Duwamish came the answer.
And, as it turns out, not only Duwamish but on their Council and willing to introduce me to the rest of its members!
[Insert Twilight Zone music here.]

Next stop was the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. They are housed (in part) in what used to be CCH’s store. I spoke with the librarian, who kindly showed me around and arranged to gather items from their archives for me to peruse on another day. As I left, I turned around to look at my great-great-great-grandfather’s storefront again. And there in the window was my book, Ruby’s Wish.
“I’m sorry we’re in such a mess! We’re setting up for Chinese New Year,” the sales assistant said.
“That book in your window. I wrote it!”
“Oh,” she said, taken aback by my excitement.
“And this used to be my great-great-great-grandfather’s store!”
“Oh,” she repeated. Then, “Would you like to sign them for us? I have a bunch.” She cleared a spot for me to sign, and I noticed that the stack of books she was moving to make room were my sister’s.
[Insert Twilight Zone music here.]

Ruby and Goldiluck

I touched base with that distant cousin, to tell her about the Duwamish lead. As we were chatting I mentioned how my character was going to live in the store itself, whether that had happened in life or not.
“Do you know that my grandfather inherited that store,” she said.
“No!” I answered. (If you think this strange, bear in mind that CCH had 11 wives and many children, including a son who had 44 kids of his own. It’s hard to keep track.)
“My mom and uncle grew up there. Uncle Joe is still in Seattle. He can tell you what that would have been like.”
I’m having lunch with Uncle Joe on Friday.
[Insert Twilight Zone music here.]

Yesterday, I had lunch with two friendly, supportive, WONDERFUL Seattle Central librarians. They’d introduced me to a friend of theirs who gave me access to the SPLC’s Writers’ Room. (Take a look at my new office…)


In the middle of lunch, one says to the other, “I should introduce you to Peter Baccho. I went to school with him.”
She looks at me strangely. “Yes, he’s a local journalist.”
“He wrote the article that said my great-great-great-grandmother was Seattle’s daughter. I have none of his references. I’d love to know how he came to that conclusion!”
An hour later, I had an email saying he’d be happy to chat.
[Insert Twilight Zone music here.]

“Don’t ignore coincidences,” my new Duwamish friend said. “Someone wants you to write this book.”