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BRIEF: Western alumna shares new novel with Fairhaven community

Reserve your spot to hear all about the latest novel ‘flooding’ local bookstores

The cover of Anderson’s debut novel, as seen on May 23, 2023. The story is based in Washington State, where Anderson is from. // Photo courtesy of Rebekah Anderson

Western Washington University alumna and author Rebekah Anderson will host a read-aloud and book signing event at Village Books in the Fairhaven neighborhood of Bellingham on Thursday, May 25, from 6-7 p.m. 

“The Grand Promise," Anderson’s debut novel, is historical fiction. The plot takes place in northeast Washington state, where the Grand Coulee Dam was built on the Columbia River over 80 years ago in 1942. 

Since the dam was built, the amount of flooding and water backup that occurred has wiped out towns, but the history isn’t as prevalent today, she said.

The novel was inspired by a road trip that Anderson took with her mother to their family’s homestead in Bossburg, located on the Columbia River just south of the Canadian border. This homestead is where her grandfather was born.

Anderson learned on this trip the adjacent town where her father went to school was now underwater after the Grand Coulee Dam caused Lake Roosevelt to flood.

After this discovery, Anderson began her own research. She started paying more attention to the history books at the visitor centers of state parks.

“I was finding these books that were nonfiction books about the Grand Coulee Dam and how [the residents] had to move their houses and even town buildings out of the flood zone,” she said. “I had never heard this before. And there aren’t very many people still alive from that time.”

Anderson said that the most intimidating part about the novel-writing process was finding the motivation to work on a long-term project; the manuscript was 250-300 pages. She also said that keeping continuity within the book while making revisions was difficult at times.

“A lot of the process was learning how to write something that length and not only keep it interesting for me as a writer but keep it interesting for the reader,” Anderson said.

Anderson graduated from Western in 1997 with a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in theater. She then went on to get a master’s in English at San Francisco State University and finished her MFA at New York University. She also worked for the Bellingham Review.

Since the book’s release at the tail end of summer in 2022, Anderson has attended a few events for the book similar to the one held at Village Books. The event will consist of a read-aloud by Anderson, a book signing and an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

Online reservations for the event will close at 5 p.m. on May 25, but attendees are more than welcome to walk in as space allows. Tickets are $5 and can be bought here.

Aislinn Jones

Aislinn Jones (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front. She is a junior majoring in visual journalism with a concentration in art history, so her work often reflects her interest in art and/or music events. Outside of the newsroom, you can find her taking photos on her film camera or hammocking in the sun. You can reach her at

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