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There’s Real Life Inspiration Behind Firefly Lane’s Pacific Northwest Story

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 06/02/2021 Martha Sorren
Ali Skovbye et al. posing for the camera © Provided by Refinery29

If Netflix’s Firefly Lane feels like it could be a true story, that’s because the show was inspired by the life of author Kristin Hannah. In 2008, she published the novel of the same name that the show is based on. It’s her childhood in the ’70s in Snohomish, Washington and her college days at the University of Washington that she drew on for the setting of the book, according to UW Magazine. So it’s not so much the plot that is true to life, but rather the location, the places young Tully Hart (Ali Skovbye) and Kate Mularkey (Roan Curtis) go, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to. 

As in the book, the series follows teenage Tully and Kate as they become best friends in the ’70s and go on to work together in the ’80s, and then it flashes forward to their life as 40-somethings in the early 2000s. Many of the fashion choices and references for these eras came from Hannah’s life.

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“What I particularly loved about writing this novel was the memories it evoked,” the author wrote on her website. “Fads, fashion, products, songs, novels, and news stories — this book contains all of that. In these pages, I was able to return to my youth, the disco era … and tease my hair and dance to Madonna…and jump into my fictional suburban world and run carpool one more time.” 

One scene in particular that is inspired by Hannah’s childhood is when Tully and her mother Cloud (Beau Garrett) relocate to Snohomish in their VW van. That’s what happened in Hannah’s early years, too. According to UW Magazine, her family relocated to Washington from California in 1968, driving up the coast in their VW van until they found a place that felt like home. “Everyone in the van found something they liked in the Pacific Northwest,” Hannah told the magazine. 

Now, Hannah considers herself “such a Pacific Northwest girl,” as she told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Most places that I write about are places that I have lived … If you know a place and live there, you can bring something special to the table,” she added.

In this case, using where she grew up as a backdrop for her fictional characters helped bring to the table a sense of realness. All of the things that happen to Tully and Kate aren’t necessarily things that happened to Hannah or her friends, but they feel like they could happen because everything around them feels so tangible. Ultimately, you’re not so much reading a book or watching a show as you are stepping into Hannah’s world.


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