An Alpine Obituary, sadly

Mary Daheim died on March 31st, 2022. She was 84.

From her publisher’s bio: “Mary Richardson Daheim started spinning stories before she could spell. Daheim has been a journalist, an editor, a public relations consultant, and a freelance writer, but fiction was always her medium of choice. In 1982, she launched a career that is now distinguished by more than sixty novels. In 2000, she won the Literary Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In October 2008, she was inducted into the University of Washington’s Communication Alumni Hall of Fame. Daheim lives in her hometown of Seattle and is a direct descendant of former residents of the real Alpine, which existed as a logging town from 1910 to 1929, when it was abandoned after the mill was closed. The Alpine/Emma Lord series has created interest in the site, which was named a Washington State ghost town in July 2011. An organization called the Alpine Advocates has been formed to preserve what remains of the town as a historic site.”

Mary published 28 Emma Lord books, the last, Bitter Alpine, in 2020. Her 32nd Bed & Breakfast, Lady MacDeath, is to be published posthumously in June 2023. In addition to all of those, there were 7 romance novels, the first of which was published in 1983.

From the site Seattle Wrote, here are her thoughts on writing. Her line about where her ideas come from is pure Daheim: “My husband once suggested that I answer this by saying I get them out of the garage where we keep the rest of the junk. That’s flippant, but the garage as a metaphor for storing ideas is apt. Life is the source of ideas. So much of what I base my books on is drawn from actual events, many of which have happened to me. Sometimes I feel as if I’m not writing fiction, but autobiography.”

We were great fans of her, and her books. We would see her twice a year, at least – once for a signing for a new Alpine book, and once for a new Bed & Breakfast book.

She’d make a point of coming down a little before noon so she could slip across the street and get a turkey/cranberry sandwich at Bakeman’s. Then, with her gravelly voice and huge smile, she’d sign books and entertain us with stories of her family, especially of Cousin Judith, of visiting the real Apline, WA, when her grandparents lived there, and with whatever else was bopping around her mind.

Only Bill or Mary would’ve been able to say how she connected with the shop. In an old shop 1992 calendar, it’s noted that she was in to sign on Thurs, April 23rd, noon. She was back in to sign on Sat, Dec. 5th. By that year, she’d published three Bed & Breakfast comedies. Was she in to sign the first two? Can’t say. In 1992, she released her first Alpine mystery, so the December event was the premiere signing for it.

It pays to be a packrat! I found this in my dresser after the post went live. Fowl Prey was her second Bed & Breakfast, so this may mark her first event at SMB.

Between then and the close of the shop in 2017, she was in for every book. Here she is in 2008 signing the Alpine Traitor and chatting with Tammy:

She was always cheerful and kind. At times, she’d welcome JB into her home to sign this or that special request. Her big old house on the northeast side of Queen Anne overlooked Fremont. He knew to prepare to stay awhile, to discuss the bookshop, publishing, some crazy family event, or any number of topics. She gave us author copies – books given to an author by the publisher – to clear space in her basement and help us when times were tough. She was a gem of the highest sparkle!

In a later, 1991, guest book, the ones we had all visiting authors sign, she wrote this:

We’re so glad she felt at home with us. Now she’s with Dave and, no doubt, having cocktails with Bill and B Jo, telling stories and laughing.

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