When Past Meets Present with Kim Fielding

August 24, 2015

When Past

Does a certain place speak to you, resonate in your mind and soul? I’m Kim Fielding, and today I’d like to talk about a place that does that for me. Or, more accurately, places.

Nestled in the Sierra mountains and foothills are a bunch of small towns that originated during the California gold rush. Even some of the names are evocative of their history: Placerville. Twain Harte. Angels Camp. Chinese Camp. Sutter Creek. Jamestown. Copperopolis. And while progress has marched on there as everywhere else, when you visit, you can still see the remnants of life in the 1850s. You can still get a little feel of the past.

I’m lucky enough to live close to this area, and I’m especially partial to a few of the towns clustered along or near Highway 49. Columbia, for instance, was a mining boomtown that once boasted over forty saloons. Nowadays it’s a state park, although a couple thousand people still live there. I also like Sonora, which is just a few miles away. Some of the shops on the main street have the remnants of gold mines in their basements. My family is also very fond of Murphys. The main attractions for my husband are the zillion local wineries, but the kids and I love the caves, which you can explore as long as you’re willing to go down—and back up—a lot of stairs.


To get a very good sense of the history of these towns—and because I’m a wee bit morbid—I like to visit the old cemeteries. You can see the many places people came from before heading to California and trying to strike it rich. You get a sense of how very difficult life was. Take a look at this census from Sonora’s cemetery, for instance. Fascinating. And you find some mysteries. Were Joel Cumback and Jacob Giddis lovers?


These gold rush towns were one of the main inspirations for my new book—my 13th novel!—Rattlesnake. It takes place in a fictional town modeled loosely on Angels Camp and called, well, Rattlesnake. It’s a contemporary story, but a sense of the past haunts the protagonists just as it haunts the old town. I fell in love with Jimmy and Shane, but I also fell in love with the town, with the atmosphere. It felt so real to me that last time my family was heading to Angels Camp for the weekend, I was all excited about having breakfast at Mae’s Café. Until I remembered that Mae’s exists only in my fictional Rattlesnake and not, sadly, in real life. I could really have gone for one of her cinnamon rolls.


Rattlesnake releases August 31, but you can preorder now. And for a chance to win an e-copy of any of my backlist books—that is, anything but Rattlesnake—comment here and tell me what place is special to you.

I hope when you read Rattlesnake, the town will become one of your special places too. Meanwhile, I’m off to another of my favorite locations on earth, Croatia. Ah, but that’s a future story….



A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.

On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.

Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.


You can learn more about Kim Fielding and download some free stories here: http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com
You can also follow her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
Or Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

14 Responses to “When Past Meets Present with Kim Fielding”

  1. Trix says:

    I really like Pacific Grove lately…one of the few places I manage to relax, and yet it’s not dull.

  2. Yvonne says:

    In my early twenties I spent a few years in London and that city will always hold a special place in my heart. Thankfully I’ll be visiting again three weeks from now.

  3. Susan says:

    When I was in fourth grade my family moved to a little town outside Boston right next to Concord. It was a magical place for me, with all its history and stonewalls around our house.

  4. Waxapplelover says:

    My favorite place would be San Francisco. I’ve had so many great times there.

  5. Su says:

    My special place is my grandparents house, although another family lives there now, I have so many happy memories of visiting and staying with them. They encouraged my love of reading and storytelling and I am pretty certain one of their cavernous wardrobes would have taken us to Narnia :)

    Congratulations on your latest book and thank you for a chance of winning one of your books :D

  6. Now you’ve got me feeling nostalgic. :) I’d love to take a trip back to the area around Placerville or Grass Valley, drive up to Emigrant Gap. I’m sure they’d all be very different than the last time i visited, though!

    Have fun in Croatia!

  7. Kim Fielding says:

    Hi Trix! I agree, Pacific Grove is wonderful. And OMG, Asilomar is one of my favorite places in the world.

  8. Kim Fielding says:

    Hi Yvonne! Have a wonderful time in London! It’s also one of my very favorite cities. So much to see!!

  9. Kim Fielding says:

    Hi Susan! That town sounds lovely and peaceful.

  10. Kim Fielding says:

    I agree, Waxapplelover! SF is probably one of my 3 favorite cities in the world. Best people watching anywhere, and such great food!

  11. Kim Fielding says:

    I’m jealous of you, Su. I always wanted a Narnia wardrobe!

  12. Kim Fielding says:

    Thank you, Charley! You should come down and visit sometime.

  13. CrabbyPatty says:

    My favorite place is Seattle (probably more precisely the Seattle of my childhood when driving over the floating bridge was AMAZING),closely followed by London.

    RE: Gold Rush towns – trying to remember the name of the town where we planned gold prior to driving into Yosemite – great little place!

  14. Kim Fielding says:

    We spent a week in Seattle this summer–it’s a great city. Hmm, gold panning. Was it in Jamestown or Columbia? I’ve panned in both of those towns–which are very near my fictional Rattlesnake.

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