Boyd C. Allen

Port Orford writer Helen Picca has published her first novel, “The Last Frontier of the Fading West.”

Picca, a former marketing executive from New York, has also written two articles for Oregon Coast Magazine.

“The Last Frontier of the Fading West” is a historical novel set in Curry County.

Emily Kolkemo, reviewing the novel in Oregon Coast Magazine, said the book traverses five decades in the life of Jennifer and deftly weaves history from the Port Orford area into her story.

Picca said, “The book required tremendous amounts of research because the history fascinated me here. The book starts with a historical event during World War II.”

On Oct. 5, 1942, a Japanese submarine sank the the tanker SS Larry Doheny off the coast of Port Orford. The protagonist, Jennifer, is impacted by this event and other experiences with the war.

“The thread of war wove through the narrative both as a memory and a current event, ultimately bringing me to Vietnam,” said Picca.

Picca graduated in 1967, and noted personal experiences at the time created an anti-war sentiment that later found a voice in her book.

“But the book is also a memoir of sorts, Jennifer’s life story,” she said. “It’s about growing up in and choosing to live her life in Port Orford, a small rural community of loggers and fishermen.”

Picca said she loves living in a small seaside town. She and her husband started visiting the Oregon Coast during summers when they lived on the western outskirts of La Pine within the Deschutes National Forest.

“We would visit the coast and we stumbled across Port Orford and loved that green coastal experience,” she said.

She also had an idea to write a book and said she found Port Orford inspirational. They moved to Port Orford in 2016.

Picca and her husband hike in the area several times a week. She described the privacy and peace here as unequalled.

They also enjoy agate hunting, and she wrote about it in her first article for Oregon Coast Magazine.

Her second article covers last year’s crab season in Port Orford.

“Our house overlooks the port, so I had an opportunity to watch the season unfold. I was fascinated by it and so I researched it, and it turned out to be a great article,” Picca said.

She has done several readings to promote her novel and intends to schedule more as summer returns.

Picca is currently writing an article on the art scene in Port Orford.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com.

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