Born and raised in suburban Minnesota, Ellie Belew has lived in a former Burlington Northern Railroad mining town in Washington State since 1989. Ironically, this town’s basic economic fortunes were first dictated in the smoky boardrooms of St. Paul’s railroad and timber barons, so Belew’s own geographic migrations have traced the path which created her town a century earlier.
Deeply rooted in her adopted community and its way of life, she served five years on its city council, three years as a volunteer firefighter, and is active in RIDGE, a community group working to maintain a forested ecosystem and a sustainable, forest-based economy.
A collection of Belew’s early short stories was accepted as her undergraduate thesis at Reed College. In addition to free-lance commercial writing, she has supported herself with jobs that allow maximum freedom for writing and travel: delivering newspapers, washing dishes, commercial truck driving, purchasing wholesale produce, planting trees, painting houses, and teaching as a writer-in-the-schools in Oregon and Washington.
Her fiction has appeared in literary magazines; her one-act play, Predominantly Blue, was selected in competition for performance for a staged reading at Portland’s Firehouse Theatre, and her articles have appeared in trade journals and newspapers.
Belew has written a novel, Run Plant Fly (Fall 2003) and two labor histories. Power to the People (December 2013) documents the workers who built, maintain, and operate the electrical infrastructure of Washington State and portions of the greater Pacific Northwest. Fully Involved is a history of union fire fighters in Washington State, ( Winter 2004-5).
Currently Belew is at work on a novel ( As Though There Were No Tomorrow) that overlaps some of the events and characters in Run Plant Fly.