Today I’m happy to host my friend and critique partner, author Suzanne Lilly. Her book, Gold Rush Girl, just released last week. Below is her story of how Gold Rush Girl came to be, and below that will be links to buy her book and find out more information.
Gold Fever through the Generations
My great-grandfather didn’t come to California during the 1849 gold rush. He arrived about thirty years after the boom of the rush had passed. However, some gold could still be found in California, and the Klondike gold rush hadn’t yet begun.
His wife, my great-grandmother had died, leaving him with an infant he didn’t feel equipped to raise. He left his infant son with his mother, my great-great-grandmother Chloe. Then, when my grandfather John was just fifteen years old, he headed out west to find his father.
Find him he did. John traveled west by foot and by wagon. When he located his father in a mining camp, the first thing they did, so the story goes, is buy John some new boots, as his were completely worn out from the journey.
The legacy and lure of gold continued to flow in the veins of the men in my family. My father used to take me out to the Arizona desert in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, where it was rumored a multi-million dollar cache of gold was hidden. Using a divining rod and a pickaxe, we would follow the arroyos and dry creek beds searching for color. A few times, we happened upon some tiny nuggets and gold dust.
Everywhere we went my father carried his gold pan, pickaxe, and divining rod in the trunk of the car. It was an enjoyable hobby for him, and a way for me to spend time with my father.
Once I had children of my own, the gold panning fell by the wayside. I never thought much about gold for many years. Then we moved to California and I began teaching fourth graders about the state history, and the dramatic changes that occurred after the discovery of gold in 1848. I took my class on a field trip to Coloma, the site of the Sutter Sawmill, where James Marshall discovered a gold nugget in the mill’s tailrace one icy January morning.
There isn’t much left of the tailrace, and only a few of the original buildings are still standing. Nevertheless, the atmosphere of the area and the depth of the history took over my heart. I fell in love with Coloma and the gold rush.
I remember standing at the gold panning station with about twenty children, a grizzly bearded docent decked out in a top hat with a feather, and thinking, “I have to write a novel about this place.”
That’s how my story of Lucinda Martin York, the Gold Rush Girl, began. That very day, watching the children exclaiming over the garnets and sparkles of gold dust they found, I knew her story had to be told.
I don’t know if gold fever is genetic or not, but it seems to run in my family. However, instead of hiking the hills and gold panning, I now write about the stories I imagine grew out of that gold. I hope you enjoy reading Gold Rush Girl as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Vicki was an inspiration during the process. We exchanged chapters on a regular basis, and her critiquing advice was invaluable. Thanks, Vicki!
Gold Rush Girl, Book One of the California Argonauts is available in print or digital format through Amazon and Smashwords. You may also buy it at Barnes and Noble, and soon through iTunes, Diesel, and Baker and Taylor. Use coupon code HB49A to get a 50% discount at Smashwords, good until February 14, 2014.
Learn more about Suzanne Lilly at these sites:
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