Photo Credit: Laura Finz.
Q&A for GOING HOME
Q: Is there an actual Nugget, California? If not, what town or place is Nugget based on?
A: If there is a Nugget, California, I’m not aware of it. Nugget is loosely based on a number of towns in the Sierra Nevada, but particularly towns in Plumas County. My aunt lives there and we go a couple of times a year to visit. The views are stunning and we’ve spent many amazing days just inner tubing down the Feather River. Because it’s so rural where she lives, the community is close-knit, which served as good model for Nugget. I like the idea that everyone knows everyone else in town and everyone is up in everyone else’s business. I grew up in a small town; we even shared a telephone party line. My sister and I used to listen in on other peoples’ conversations (terrible, right?), but it soon became apparent we weren’t the only ones doing it.
Q: In Going Home, the heroine, Maddy Breyer, is obsessed with the Donner Party. What inspired you to put such a macabre piece of California history into a romance novel?
A: I think a lot of Californians are intrigued with the tragedy. When you think of California, you think sunny, warm, beaches and palm trees. You don’t think of pioneers getting trapped in the snow and having to eat each other to stay alive. Now ski resorts surround the area where the Donner Party got stranded in the 1800s. Every time I’m up in those parts I wonder where it happened. Is this where pioneers feasted on their fellow travelers? Maybe I’m a little warped, but I think it’s human nature to be curious about really bad things, and Maddy is a little quirky to begin with.
Q: Going Home’s hero, Rhys Shepard, is a complicated guy. Tortured, yet bound by an innate sense of duty to take care of everyone around him. Is there a story behind his character?
A: I liked playing on the theme: can you go home again? Nugget has miserable associations for Rhys. His dad was the town’s odd ball and people wrongly assume the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. But Rhys’ sense of duty brings him home and forces him to stay at least long enough to do the right thing. I’ve known people like him, people who couldn’t wait to get out of Dodge and reinvent themselves, and despite finding new surroundings and new people, still don’t feel like they belong.
Q: What’s next for the town of Nugget?
A: Rhys’ best friend (and Nugget heartthrob) Clay McCreedy is about to meet his match.
Q: Will Rhys, Maddy and other characters from Going Home make appearances in Clay’s book?
A: They are all making cameos, but I’m also introducing some intriguing new people.