Small Oregon Towns Inspire Courtney Gould’s Ghostbuster

Courtney Gould’s award-winning debut novel includes ghost hunters, a queer romance, and a small town called Snakebite.

Her youth thriller, The Dead and the Dark, was inspired in part by an unexpected place: the Oregon Department of Employment.

Several years ago, Gould, 28, was helping rural Oregonians through her job at a state agency. Then I watched the Wild Wild Country documentary about a cult moving to a property in rural Oregon in the 1980s.

That was enough to inspire her to take a road trip to eastern Oregon.

She grew up in Salem and had relatives in Silverton, but was fascinated by very small outlying towns like Fossil and Valley.

“Obviously people feel very loyal to each other, and there is a really strong sense of community,” Gould said, “but they are also very wary of people coming in from the outside.”

The Dead and the Dark explores the tension between internal and external parties.

Gould, who is a lesbian, was also curious about what it would be like to grow up in a very small town.

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