The famous 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle continues to observe its 50th anniversary this summer, with the Space Needle painted its original bright orange in commemoration.  

That celebrated orange Needle also figures on the cover of “Truth Like The Sun,” a novel about the Fair from Northwest writer Jim Lynch.  The novel, featuring fictional characters but based on the facts of the Fair, follows Roger Morgan, a hyperkinetic wheeler-dealer credited with the Fair’s success.  Forty years later in 2002, a young investigative reporter, Helen Gulanos, decides to find out who Roger Morgan really is.  But she uncovers a few secrets Morgan’s struggled to keep hidden—and a few more than may be better off for everyone kept hidden…

Raised in the Seattle area (see below), Lynch graduated from the University of Washington and spent his immediate post-graduation years bouncing around in journalism from Alaska to Virginia and eventually as an assistant to Jack Anderson in Washington D.C. He later returned to the Northwest and worked at the “Seattle Times” among other area papers.  

Lynch’s first novel “The Highest Tide” depicted a young man who discovers a giant squid and finds himself embroiled in the not-entirely-wonderful world of instant celebrity, even as he fights difficult battles on his home front.  His second novel, “Border Songs,” drew from his journalism experience to create Brandon Vanderkool, a thin stick of a young man charged with defending the border between northern Washington state and southern British Columbia.  He struggles to stop smugglers, and to conquer his own contradictions.

“Truth Like The Sun” is Lynch’s third novel.  He took a few questions over email.

Did you attend the Fair yourself?  If so, what were your impressions?  

I was an infant during the fair, but I was a big fan of Seattle Center when I was growing up, and the fair lurked in the background and intrigued me.  I wanted to write a novel that tried to capture ambitious Seattle, and the 1962 fair seemed like a great place to start the story.

How did you go about researching the Fair?  What resources were most valuable to you?

I read everything that’d been written about it and used it all to give the story realism and inspire my imagination. The downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library has a Seattle Room on the 10th floor that was very helpful, as was the Northwest Collections section of the Allen Library on the UW campus.

The Fair covered so much ground, culturally and physically.  What aspects of it surprised you the most?  What were your favorite and least favorite aspects of it, and why?

I was pleasantly surprised by all the introspective depth of the science exhibits at the fair. And I was intrigued by imagining little remote Seattle suddenly being inundated with celebrities and foreigners. I would have loved to walk through art collection that was assembled for the fair, particularly the modern art. I liked the coming-out party aspect of it, of this city coming of age. I wish there’d been more incisive and less effusive analysis of the Fair while it was going on and in its aftermath.

Who was/were the major inspirations for your central character, Fair mastermind Roger Morgan?  How did you draw from real life and transmute the story into fiction?

The inspiration for Roger Morgan was Seattle itself. I didn’t base him on any particular person. I wanted him to represent Seattle, to be a walking-talking metaphor of the city. And along the way, he became his own self entirely.

You grew up in the Seattle area.  What were your impressions of Seattle Center and the city itself growing up, and how did they change as you grew up?

I was Mercer Island High School, class of ‘80. Seattle Center was where we went to have fun. At first as children in the amusement park, then later, independently, like happy dogs off our leashes.

This is your third novel.  Any tricks of the trade you wish you’d known working on your earlier novels?

I wish writing novels got easier. The hardest part, the longest part, is getting to know my characters well enough to make the book come alive. As for writing tricks? Don’t edit yourself in a bad mood.

Any plans for the immediate future?

Yes, I’m working on a novel about a volatile Puget Sound family obsessed with sailboats and sailing.