Arts and Entertainment

Author reads from new novel set on Vashon

Jean Amulexen - Juli Goetz Morser/Staff Photo
Jean Amulexen
— image credit: Juli Goetz Morser/Staff Photo

When Jean Ameluxen first started writing stories about Billy Nelson, she wasn’t planning on writing a book. She just liked the character, her chosen time frame of World War II and the setting — Vashon Island. When a writer friend explained that a novel is just one short story followed by another using the same characters, Ameluxen began her novel in earnest. Six months later she finished writing “How It Was for Billy Nelson” and will read from her new novel at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Land Trust Building.

The book is about a young boy living on Vashon during World War II. The changes he witnesses, including the discrimination and removal of his best friend, a Japanese American, to a concentration camp, become the lens through which Ameluxen explores both the history of the island and the heightened time period of World War II.

“I am fascinated by World War II,” Ameluxen said. “The good and bad guys were so easily known. I don’t know if there will ever be a time like it again.”

She also says she is intrigued by the changes she’s witnessed on Vashon. Ameluxen, 79, grew up in Seattle and moved to Vashon after marrying her husband Fritz in 1965. She said the 1970s brought the biggest changes to the island she’s seen and believes they helped create the remarkable arts culture on the island today.

Ameluxen credits the resources of the Vashon Heritage Museum and the library for uncovering the interesting historical references in Billy Nelson, but she is quick to point out that all of the characters are fictional.

Ameluxen plans to contribute part of the book’s proceeds to the Heritage Museum.

“I hope my fondness for the island and the people here will show through in the book,” Ameluxen said.

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