The story of Spirit River was inspired by my grandfather, William Edward Perry, by what I knew about him and by reading his unpublished poetry since I was young. He grew up in and around Yreka, California, and spent a lot of time fishing, hunting, and exploring along the Klamath River, a central setting of my novel.

While Spirit River is fiction with some truths, stretched and otherwise, the poetry the protagonist Billy/Bill writes in the novel is word-for-word my grandfather’s poetry.

The opening lines of the novel whisper of my grandfather’s poem The Klamath (Gentle)

I am the Klamath;
Today, I softly roll
Between rocks, risen dry and bold;
Slow, gentle waves I send
Up sandy beach;
The watermark, far beyond their gentle sweep.
I am the Klamath
Held in leash.