Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.


There was a time when I blogged daily, sometimes twice daily. Sometimes seven times in a day. This, I realize many years later, may be why I wasn't making great progress on my novel at the time. I was too busy complaining on the internet about this thing or that thing. Sometimes I go back and read those old blog posts—inaccessible to you, ha-ha—and I think, Boy, did I ever complain a lot, and then I remember that I still complain plenty. I just do it offline, mostly.

Here's something I have liked recently, though:

Oh, my gawd, have you played this game? Anyone? I saw the trailer for Firewatch a while back—this trailer, right here—and could not wait for this game to come out. And then it did...but not for any platform that I play games on. (I have an Xbox, and while I could play games on Steam, I don't have the coordination required for mouse-keyboard gaming. I don't even use a mouse! I use a Wacom tablet, and those aren't particularly good, at least in my own thumbsy experience, for gaming.) 

So I complained, privately, to myself, that I would never get to play this game. And the universe must've heard me and taken pity, because the game suddenly appeared on Xbox a few weeks ago. 

I loved this game. Played it pretty fast. Thought the story was good. Could have been a bit better, perhaps, but it worked. Or maybe there could have been less story. Until the game's major X-filesian narrative kicks in, it's just a gorgeous, easygoing game. I could've gone with that approach for ten times as long, I think.

But I think more than that, I loved being in this game. The whole premise captured my attention. I'm not even much of an outdoorsy type. But the idea of resigning from society for a few months, living in a fire lookout tower, is pretty damned appealing. Imagine how much writing a person could get done in a place like that. Imagine how distracting the views could be from the writing. 

The game ended too soon, after which I found a book called Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout, and promptly ordered it. Haven't read it yet. But I'm sure it'll be great. And then I went online, searching for more information about lookout towers, and discovered that there are some towers still in use today, though most have been decommissioned. The game even addresses this, referring to the changed approach to managing wilderness fires. That's the operative word: managing, rather than the past approach of suppressing them entirely. 

But I was overjoyed to read that a number of these towers are still maintained, and though they aren't used for keeping watch anymore, they're rented out by the night to overnight guests. 

I spent a week in Klamath Falls this year, holed up away from most people, writing. Bet you can guess where I'll try to spend a week writing next year. Maybe I'll check out the Acker Rock lookout. I found this video made by a guy named Terry who spent some time up there a few years ago. The place looks gorgeous, and just remote enough for a guy to get some pages written:

Anyway—that's next year, maybe. Might have to buy some hiking boots for the first time in twenty years. 

Meanwhile, I'm writing, always writing. I hope to have more on that soon. 

Eleanor paperback available for pre-order

German Eleanor available for preorder