Food & Culture

Sarah Jio’s New Book, ‘Always,’ Keeps Seattle’s ’90s Scene Alive

The best-selling Seattle-based author talks about her latest novel

By Eva Seelye February 2, 2017


This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Seattle Magazine.

For years, Sarah Jio was a Seattle-based freelance journalist who wrote for publications ranging from Glamour and Real Simple to The Seattle Times and The New York Times, with constant deadlines, even the night before her wedding. Then she became a novelist with best-sellers in 30 countries and a three-book Random House contract. We asked the Seattle writer about love, lit and life at the dawn of the Pearl Jam era, depicted in her new novel, Always.

What inspired you to write? When I was 7, I wrote this silly little book about a girl who had a dream about a tugboat. It won a young author award. My late grandfather was one of my greatest supporters. Sadly, he never got to see my first book published, or learn that I would become a New York Times best-selling author. Now I’ve written nine books (11 if you count the ones I gave up on).  

How does Seattle feature in your new novel, Always? When I was 16, I dated a boy in a punk rock band with a Mohawk. I love writing about love. First love set to all the great music coming out of Seattle went into the writing of Always. While I never got a tattoo, that era is truly tattooed on my heart. The music, the terribly fitting thrift shop fashion, the cafés! 

What was the most fun to write about related to the ’90s? The way we used to order our coffee. We were all so obsessed with all those flavored syrups. I used to drink toasted marshmallow lattes every day. I had fun creating a scene in the book about how far we’ve come with coffee in Seattle. 

Are there in-jokes only a local would get? Many things. My favorite was the scene at Sit & Spin, the café/Laundromat Soundgarden and Pearl Jam frequented, and where I spent countless hours. 

You often wrote about the Seattle lifestyle during your time as a journalist. Did that help your fiction? My reporting kept my eye on the pulse of trends and fascinating people. I can’t think of a place I traveled to for work in those years that did not end up in a scene in a book.

How do you balance your jobs—writing and raising three boys? Sharing parenting duties with my ex has afforded me time to travel, research and write. All aspects of my life haven’t always gone according to plan, but I am grateful every day that I get to do what I love. Balance and organization are key. The rest—the writing and the laundry—will all work itself out.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Follow Us

Festive Seattle

Festive Seattle

Enjoy a sense of wonder and discovery this holiday season

For many arts organizations, holiday shows represent more than half of ticket sales for the entire season. And, as arts audiences come and go, so can the surrounding economy. Studies show that every dollar spent by patrons in the arts creates $3 of economic impact. The arts and entertainment options in and around Seattle are

The Sound of Giving

The Sound of Giving

Three nonprofit music organizations worthy of support

In the March/April issue of this magazine, I wrote an article about the problems with Seattle’s music scene and how we can fix them. There’s a lot to be desired in Seattle’s music scene — like more regular, paying gigs for musicians at local establishments and a more reasonable volume level at venues across the…

A Taste of Europe Comes to Seattle for Christmas

A Taste of Europe Comes to Seattle for Christmas

Monthlong celebration begins the day after Thanksgiving

A scene reminiscent of old Europe will be on full display at Seattle Center this holiday season when the city’s first-ever Seattle Christmas Market opens for a monthlong celebration. Inspired by historic German Christmas markets, the Seattle Christmas Market opened Nov. 24 and runs through Christmas Eve at Fisher Pavilion and South Fountain lawn at…

Editor's Note: An Experience That Lives  Forever

Editor’s Note: An Experience That Lives Forever

The world isn't always as it seems

It was Friday night after a long week. I had just arrived home. The red light was flashing on my answering machine (remember those?). I was ready for the weekend. The call crushed me. My first love, my high school sweetheart, my partner in mischief, had passed away due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis. Gwen…