Have you ever wondered why authors write the books they do?

For Robert Spalding, it was a robust sense of curiosity. Driving past Denny Park, he noticed a statue he had seen before, but this time decided to take a closer look. Aware of the park’s name and the Denny family’s significance in Seattle history, he assumed the sculpture would memorialize either Arthur or David Denny. To his great surprise, it didn’t. The bust was of a person Spalding had never heard of—Reverend Dr. Mark Matthews. The incongruity piqued his interest, and he began researching monuments and markers scattered throughout the city.

For three years, Spalding spent his lunch hours at the Seattle Central Library, diligently researching the city’s heritage markers. What he learned—starting with the original totem pole installed in Pioneer Place in 1899—was fascinating. Writing in his spare time for another three years, he completed his manuscript—one that included the story of Reverend Dr. Mark Matthews—and became Monumental Seattle, his second book—available in bookstores soon.