Who doesn't love a cowboy with their rugged appearance and easy-going charm? Add a Scottish burr and toss in a sassy heroine and you have a great basis for a western. I grew up with Matt Dillon, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Palladin and others who protected the west. Some cowboys like Clint Eastwoods's Rowdy Yates and even Ward Bond as the wagon master on Wagon Train gave us all a peek at what life might have been like in the days of the Wild West.
I spent hours on horseback as a teenager. My girlfriend owned two mares and we used to make up stories and carry out our imagined parts. Of course, they were her horses and she was always grabbed the good part as the bad guy. I had the job of hunting for her -- but, as a great tracker I always captured my prey. I use my colorful memories to season my westerns with a bit of genuineness.
Of course, living where all the gold rush action occurred helps my creativity burst alive. I love writing historicals because history is so colorful and unexpectedly creative. Sometimes I think true stories are more fun than fiction. Placerville, which was named Hangtown and Dry Diggins' during the 1849 gold rush, still has so many of the original buildings and so many tunnels that twist and turn under town. I have set my series in the town of Placerville. I have renamed the town Paradise Pines, which just so happens to be the name of my series. See, how well I planned that. Some times I amaze even myself.
Seriously though, I have drawn the plots for my stories from the many tales I've read about and even gleaned some facts from some the old timers who love relating stories they remember hearing from their parents. Placerville still has imaginary gun fights in town on special occasions and Doc Weiser drives a Wells Fargo stagecoach at Christmas time for the townsfolk to ride 'just like in the olden days'. He has an untrimmed tree lying across the top of the coach and waves to all the people who enjoy watching the coach drive past.
There may not be a gold rush any longer, but there are still open gold mines we can enter and see how the miners spent their lives digging for riches. My daughter and I spent a couple of hours in the Gold Bug Mine and relived what it was like to spend time underground. Luckily for us it was only for a short while. We couldn't even fathom what spending every day, all day long in the dark would have been like. The olden days definitely were not the easy days.