Exiled gods, a hidden supernatural community, an isolated bartender-turned-monster hunter, an impending apocalypse — and it’s all happening in Buckley.
In her self-published book, “A Tangled Pattern,” local resident Alex Personius uses a mix of her own experiences and a storyline worthy of an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest to turn the small city at the very edge of Pierce County into the center of the universe.
The story follows Katya, a home-grown woman who’s been chosen by the gods — or, rather, a pantheon of beings known as Celestials — to become Earth’s next Guardian, protecting the unsuspecting masses from beings of unspeakable horror and hunger from Hell, or worse.
While the plot is geared toward lovers of the supernatural genre, it’s not as lofty as it may first appear. After a brief introduction with some of the more abstract characters of the series, readers are quickly transported back to a setting they should find familiar. Or, in the case of Buckleyites, downright recognizable.
As the old saying goes, write what you know.
“It’s a wonderful little town… I either lived in or around Buckley my entire life,” Personius said. Occasionally, she traveled and spent some time outside the city, “but I always ended up coming back here, because it’s home. On one hand, I wanted to not necessarily write a love letter to the town that borne me and will eventually rob me of my life precious, but something along those lines.”
The first place local residents are sure to recognize is the bar Katya owns. Though it goes unnamed in the book, readers can easily guess it’s The Firehouse Pub on Main Street (a sincere “thank you” is given to the bar’s current owner on the acknowledgments page).
There are other highly recognizable settings from Enumclaw and Bonney Lake as well, though one of the other most-recurring scenes is at the old White River High School campus (now Glacier Middle School) which Personius attended.
She said much of her experiences as an adolescent and young adult made it into her protagonist, Katya, although suped-up to make it more fantastical.
“She’s taken strongly from my own head,” Personius said, adding that both of them not only share some of the same personality traits (for example, Katya is often described as obstinate, a word “a great deal of my family” have used describing Personius) but their emotional struggles as well.
“The big thing is the idea of the self-doubt, and how damaging it can actually be to not have faith in one’s self,” Personius said, mentioning that publishing her first book was absolutely part of overcoming that personal struggle. “Her biggest hurdle, as well as mine, is doubt, and the fear that maybe it’s not good enough… that ‘what if’ is a hurdle a lot of people have trouble getting over.”
In other words, it’s less about the power that Katya needs to develop to get through sticky situations involving beings more knowledgeable and powerful than her, and more about confidence needed to use it.
“She has all of this stuff, (but) her own shortcomings or psychological issues can take that away from her just as easily,” Personius said. “If she doesn’t have the confidence to embrace what she is in the end, none of her efforts are going to matter.”
The book is also about the confidence to carve your own path, rather than following the ones your predecessors traditionally followed, or the ones your enemies (and even your friends) expect you to take, which also leads back to the author, who described herself — complete with brightly dyed hair, “hippy chic” clothes, and large ear gauges — as someone who “has a tendency to buck the status quo. I’m a weirdo, and I take pride in that.”
This fits well with one of the overall themes of the book. As the title suggests, Personius’ world built is upon centuries, even millenniums, of repeated patterns, and the idea that while some should be kept, others must be broken.
“It’s basically the real human struggle about finding out what it is you’re supposed to do,” she said.
“A Tangled Pattern,” which was first published late 2016, is currently available to purchase on Amazon. It’s sequel, “A Trickster’s Gamble,” was published the day after Christmas, and is also available online.