‘Meet The Author’ with Clark Casey
Author Clark Casey has released a new book called “The Ruins of Rough & Ready.” We snagged a few minutes with Casey and asked him some questions about his latest book and life.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in New York and have been living in Northern California for five years. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back.
What brought you to this area?
The look of the historic buildings and its reputation as a wine region first drew me to Nevada County. The vibrant spirits of hard-scrabble miners still seemed to live within the people I met at the Golden Era Lounge. After the pandemic started, I gave up my apartment in Oakland to work remotely from Airbnbs all over California. One of my first stops was to return to Nevada City for a month-long stay.
What is your book about?
In 1850, the town of Rough and Ready, California, seceded from the United States in order to avoid paying a mining tax. “The Ruins of Rough and Ready“ takes place during the three months when the tiny Gold Rush settlement was an independent nation. The town drunkard falls asleep in a cave and wakes up to an earthquake that dislodges a giant gold bolder. The townfolks must get the motherlode to Sacramento before every bandit in California closes in on them.
What inspired you to write this book?
An editor had asked me to write a comical western story in the same vein as a movie he liked called “Support Your Local Sheriff!” I had recently taken my first trip to the foothills and stayed at the old National Exchange Hotel. On the way up, I saw a sign for the town of Rough and Ready, and it made me wonder why anyone would pick such a name. When I found out the original settlers had tried to form their own country, I got to wondering what other shenanigans they might have been up to.
What did you find most challenging about writing the book?
The area received a lot of immigrants from Cornwall after the tin mines dried up, so I knew I needed a Cornish character. Writing his accent wasn’t easy. I watched lots of videos and consulted a British friend to make it sound authentic without being overbearing. My friend is from the Cotswolds though, so if I got it wrong you can blame him.
What is your key takeaway or message you hope readers find in your book?
I just hope the people whose ancestors were from Rough and Ready don’t take the book too seriously and get a laugh out of it. It’s just a fun story about some oddball miners and early pioneers who strove for greatness and ended up with a pretty decent town.
It’s not your typical western. There’s a sheriff who’s afraid of guns and suffering from what we’d call panic attacks, but they just think he’s a coward. And there’s a barback who records what his friends are up to in his “pal book,” which is just an old-fashioned version of Facebook. I guess you could say that I am using the past to make fun of the present, but there are some exciting gunfights and a happy ending.
Where can people find your book?
It’s available in paperback and all digital formats at the usual places online. I recommend you support local businesses, though, and ask the booksellers in Grass Valley and Nevada City for a copy.
Please describe what you’d consider your perfect day.
Waking up in the Holbrooke Hotel, playing a round of golf at Darkhorse Golf Club, followed by a couple of pints at the Mine Shaft Saloon would suit me just fine.
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