Author with local ties pens his 11th book

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor


photo"The Emerald Storm" is Bill Dietrich's 11th novel.


If you go

What: Book signings by Bill Dietrich.

When: 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Friday: Powell’s Books at Cedar Crossing, 3415 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton. Sunday: Murder by the Book, 3210 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland.

A fascination with a compelling swath of history has propelled former Columbian reporter and columnist Bill Dietrich to release his 11th novel.

"The Emerald Storm" ($25.99; Harper/HarperCollins Publishers) is the fourth in Dietrich's adventure tales featuring Ethan Gage.

In his own words, Dietrich says, "Ethan Gage adventures are enjoyed at two levels. Readers have delighted in the swashbuckling romps that follow an American scamp through history of the Napoleonic period: thriller mysteries that have sold into over 28 languages."

Yes, Dietrich, 60, says his books are read in such far-flung spots as Thailand, Russia, Israel (in Hebrew), Turkey, China, Japan and Korea.

His publisher calls him a "New York Times best-selling author."

Some books have sold more than 100,000 copies, Dietrich said. "I've probably sold somewhere in the neighborhood of a million books."

The author says he works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days, either writing or researching. He said his publisher expects a book a year.

Dietrich said two more Ethan Gage books, set 200 years ago, are on order.

"I've always enjoyed the (Napoleonic) period," Dietrich said. "It's over-the-top dramatic.

"The series started with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt." The next novel is about Napoleon's coronation and his attempt to invade England, Dietrich said.

Dietrich worked for The Columbian from 1978 to 1982.

For the next 25 years, he was a Seattle Times staffer and was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team in 1990 for coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

Dietrich, who lives with his wife, Holly, in Anacortes, also taught environmental journalism at Western Washington University in Bellingham from 2006 to 2011.

A Columbian reporter once noted that Dietrich elicited great quotes from sources without saying much. Overheard on the phone, he often would just say, "S-o-o-o."

Asked about that tactic, he said that when he was at Western, "I told my students (when interviewing) to just shut up sometimes."