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.

Moving on


I never did give my writing office a name. 

It wasn't mine for too terribly long. About twenty months or so. The office was my gift to myself after my agent and I sold Eleanor to my publisher. No sports car or swimming pool or anything particularly flashy, just a quiet place to write. Someplace I could leave manuscripts strewn about, and not have to shove their pages into a backpack at the end of another coffee shop or library writing session. 

I thought I'd name the office something clever. Calling it 'the office' always felt a bit too formal, a little too drab. Some of you had ideas. I heard everything from 'Dante's ninth circle' to 'the hole'. Nothing quite felt right. I've never named my cars, either; maybe I'm not a namer. 

Earlier this year, Felicia and I finally decided it was time to plant some real roots. We started house-hunting at the worst possible time in the Portland-area market. Houses were being snapped up left and right for much more money than their list prices; things were extremely competitive. I'm the sort of person who doesn't buy things on eBay: if there's something I want, I don't want to wrestle other people for it. Turns out buying a house in this market is just a much larger-scale eBay problem.

But we did it. It took many months, a couple of appraisals, several different kinds of inspections, and way more waiting than I was comfortable with, but we did it. 

The new house has a deck that wraps around all but one side. From that deck, this is our new view. It's hard to tell, given the trees and the haziness of the horizon, but on a good day you can see three mountains from this spot: Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. Here's how spatially unaware I am: I'd never even heard of Mt. Adams before. We're a little outside of the Portland fray, which means we've also got a good view of the city from here. 

The house sits on nearly three and a half acres, about two-thirds of which is wooded. Just down the hill, and just inside the first stand of trees, there's a flat spot that I think will one day be a perfect location for a little writing cabin. 

I think my favorite thing about the place is the quiet. There's hardly a sound other than the wind, or the tap of rain on leaves. Felicia loves visiting my parents at their house in rural Washington for this reason. That we have a piece of quiet for ourselves now is unexpectedly heavenly.

Until the day that a writing cabin exists in those woods, however, I'll be writing here, in a room that's about double the size of the office I'm vacating. More room for books! And plenty of room for Squish to stomp around in. 

Stomp...or perform vaudevillian tap routines, which she did in practically every room of the house. 

I never had much of an urge to buy a home before this, despite my father's urgings (which I've listened to for the last decade, or maybe decade and a half). This year, from nowhere, the urge appeared. We'll paint a wall inside our residence for the first time ever. We can knock a wall down, if we want to. There's room to build a little cottage for my mother-in-law, which will be our next project, in a few years. Squish will have lots of room to run and play, with a nice big yard to romp around in. We've never had that, either. 

The moving-in process is the least pleasant part of any of it, and we haven't really begun, aside from my office packing. It's comforting to know that this is the last time—for many years, if not ever—that we'll have to do that sort of thing. We're homeowners.

Oh, and as for naming things: I think the house will have a name. It's on a lovely hill, backed up against potentially creepy woods, and it's a little remote. I think the only proper name for it is... Hill House. Shirley Jackson would be proud.


Moving in

Eleanor yarn!