Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013, September 19, 2003, Page 36, Image 36

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    BOOKS
....... v.......
onalJ Olson has
become a Swan.
The prolific travel
writer, playwright and
author has a new hook and
a new name. Olson’s sixth
novel, My Three Husbands,
is published under the pseu­
by F loyd S klaver
donym Swan Adamson.
(His previous novel, Queer
Com ers, is a fictionalized
account of the events
surrounding 1992 s
Measure 9.)
“I was going out on a
limb on this kx>k," he says,
“because 1 was writ my in
the voice of a 25-year-old
American woman.... The
voice had to he hers. When
1 wrote My Three Husbands,
I felt like a kxik with that
title and the name Donald
Olson would he a very dif­
ferent novel from one with
•in ambiguous (sounding)
author.”
Although he inten­
tionally chose a sexually
ambiguous name to avoid
preconceived notions, in
Scandinavia (home of
O lson’s ancestors) Swan is
a popular man’s name and
the name of his great
uncle, a “hard-drinking”
logger from Minnesota.
“He was not a literary
character at all,” notes
Olson. “Rut his name
always had resonance to me
in a land where everyone
Donald Olson kicks back at home in Northwest having spent the
was a Johnson or a Larson
summer publishing a new novel and producing his latest play
or an Olson. I’ve always
telling about the manifestations. They can
wanted to use the name Swan Adamson— it
tell you what happened, and they can conjec­
seems so much more romanticand dashing
ture, hut no one really knows.”
than Donald Olson."
T he closest Olson ever came to a spirit
My Three Husbands is a comic novel set in
was at Heceta Head while researching Ore­
Portland that follows the adventures of young
gon Ghosts. T he only lighthouse keeper’s
Venus, who has been unlucky in love. When
house left on the Oregon coast, the building
the thrice-married woman becomes engaged to
has been turned into a bed-and-breakfast.
husband No. 4, her two gay fathers offer the
“I’d like to believe 1 heard the ghost," Olson
newlyweds a luxury honeymixin at a wilder­
says. “W ho knows? But 1 heard a series of
ness resort in Idaho. The catch: Both dads are
rappings, and the rixim got so hot I could
tagging along.
barely breathe.”
“I think it's the only novel with a family
But that’s the closest he’s ever gotten so
honeymoon,” Olson laughs. “It’s kind of a
far. “I’ve never had an experience where I
family story, very much about relationships
actually encountered a ghost, but many of
with a lot of gay subplots. The gay dads have
my friends have, and I believe them .”
been in a relationship for 20 years, and it’s
W hile novels and plays are his true pas­
contrasted with Venus’ relationships, which
sion, Olson actually supports himself by writ­
last nine months at the longest.”
ing travel books such as England for
Olson certainly knows about long-term
Dummies, which received the 2002 Lowell
relationships. He and his partner, architect
Thomas
Travel W riting Award for Best
Gary Larson, recently celebrated their 25th
G uidekxik. T h e honor is presented by the
anniversary. They met in 1978 at the Rafters, a
Society of American Travel Writers to rec­
downtown piano har/disco. Today they live in
ognize outstanding publications in the field
Northwest Portland in what Olson describes as
of travel journalism.
“a treehouse."
His nine travel tomes also include London
for Dummies, Germany for Dummies, Fodor's
esides novels, the 53-year-old pens travel
Oregon and the third edition of Frommer's Gay
kxiks and plays. His latest play, Oregon
& lu’shian Europe: The Top Cities & Resorts.
Ghosts, just completed a sold-out mn at the
Olson’s articles have appeared in The New
Lakewixxl Theater Company in Lake Oswego.
York Times and numerous other publications,
With original music by Olson, it tells the story
including Sunset and National Geographic's
of three haunted houses in Oregon: the Heceta
Guide to Small Town Escapes. “The amount of
Head lighthouse near Florence, the Geiser
travel writing I do allows me to pay my expens­
Grand Hotel in Raker City and the White
es in life,” he explains, “but novels remain my
Eagle in North Portland.
first love.”
Oregon Ghosts combines Olson’s fascina­
Olson is at work on a sequel to My Three
tion with history and the supernatural. “I’ve
Husbands, titled Happily Ever After, and a trav­
always had an interest in ghosts,” he shares.
el
guide akiut day trips from London, k ith due
“1 started reading akiut parapsychology at 8
out next summer. j n
or 10 years old. People tell about ghosts by
Traveling by Swan
Portland author lets loose
Three Husbands
and a stateful of ghosts
BY MABTY DAVIS
ju s t r m
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