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Author Michael Tidemann will visit Toledo this Saturday, July 27, to present a talk on the research that went into “Letters from Elk City,” a historical novel that spans four centuries, set in Oregon Coast and the American South.

Tidemann, who makes his summer home in Elk City, was inspired to write the novel after a friend discovered several intriguing items an old trash midden remaining from The Headwaters, a long-disappeared hunting lodge that sat on the Yaquina River in the 1850s. The collection, including an 1838 French wine bottle, a porcelain doll’s face and a woman’s diamond ring, piqued Tidemann’s curiosity about who might have owned the items.

After he came up with the basic concept, he began his research — starting with a voyage by British explorer Sir Francis Drake to the Oregon Coast in 1579, during which Drake beached his ships for repairs for six weeks in Whale Cove, now the site of the luxury Whale Cove Inn.

“Evidence would suggest that Drake had a child with an African woman named Maria whom he freed from Spanish captors,” Tidemann said. “A key question in the novel is whether Drake tried to return to Maria whom he left on an island in the Bangaii Archipelago in the Pacific, given the fact that she had his only child.”

The novel also chronicles the Davis family as they struggle to overcome the heartbreak of losing a family member along the Oregon Trail and set roots in the Yaquina Valley.

Tidemann, who lives in Estherville, Iowa, authors the monthly newspaper column Writers and Writing, which reviews books by both bestselling and emerging authors and is distributed via 109 newspapers in the Upper Midwest.

Saturday’s presentation, which is free and open to all, will start at 2 pm at Toledo Public Library, 173 NW 7th Street, followed by an author signing.

For more information, contact the library at 541-335-3132 or librarydirector@cityoftoledo.org.

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