Sunday Dinner with Tanya Stowe

Sunday Dinner

For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Tanya Stowe. Tanya is a Publisher’s Weekly Bestselling Author who fills her books with the unusual…mysteries and exotic travel, even a murder or two. No matter where Tanya takes you … on a train down a mountain or a suspenseful journey packed with danger … be prepared for the extraordinary.

Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!

Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.

I’m a full time RVr. That means I live in a 44-foot motorhome and travel the country with my husband. But don’t think I’m doing without. My motorhome has two bathrooms, a king-sized bed, a washer and a dryer and a queen-size pullout couch for visitors. We have plenty of room!

Can you tell us about your latest novel?

His Most Tender Touch

Is his faith strong enough to save them both?

Lacy Butler is graced with the gift of healing yet fails to save her mother. Rejecting her gift, God, and society, she’s content to live alone high above the mining town of Harperville. But her solitude is shattered when Royce Darnell builds a water flume through the middle of her mountain. With the livelihood of the miners and their families depending on his project, Royce refuses to stop building, no matter how good the reason. Besides, he’s convinced God wants Lacy to use her gift for good and not be a recluse afraid of human contact. But first, she must learn to trust, and Lacy doesn’t trust anyone, not Royce and especially not God. Soon Royce finds himself in a battle to save the two things he loves the most…Harperville and Lacy.

Why did you choose to write a story set in a California gold rush town?

When my four children were young, my husband went back to school so he was working full time and going to accelerated classes. He was gone all the time and I was going crazy so my sister suggested we take a summer trip together. We loaded up the kids in her motorhome and traveled to the California Gold country. I couldn’t believe how different it was from my Southern California home. I just fell in love.

Have you lived in or visited a California gold rush town? What research was required to set a book there in 1861?

Well, yes, we visited several on our trip. Some of them were real towns and others were just spots on the map with a few ruins. I wondered why some towns transitioned from tent and canvas boomtowns to real towns that were still thriving while others died. We visited the area in the 1980’s. It took almost twenty years before I published that book and during that time, I read everything I could get my hands on about the Gold Rush period.

What is one of the hallmarks of a California gold rush town?

I live in the west so I study all western boomtowns. I think one hallmark of the California Gold Rush town was the lack of violence. Don’t get me wrong, there was an incredible amount of theft, graft, robbery, and cheating. Some of California’s power brokers made their money charging unbelievable prices for food and equipment during the Gold Rush. It was a dangerous time.

But I just visited Boot Hill in Tombstone and was once again struck by the amount of violent deaths that occurred in the short two-year period of 1880-82. The California Gold Rush happened in 1849. It’s my opinion that soldiers going west after fighting in the Civil War of 1862-65 brought a new and more violent tone to the western boomtowns. So I’d say, even though there was crime in the Gold Rush, it lacked the bloody violence we saw in later boomtowns throughout the west.

What does a day in the life of a typical resident of a California gold rush town look like?

Most people who lived in the town would have had a life marked by incredible activity … night and day.

Miners would be swarming the hills surrounding the area, living in tents or lean-tos with little protection from the elements. They had few supplies and spent their time panning or working the sluices. They were in constant need of food, tools, medical help and entertainment.

The townspeople supplied all those needs and charged incredible amounts for those services. The townspeople also lived in wagons or buildings with wood bottoms and a canvas roof so they could move quickly and follow the gold and the miners.

Many places that made permanent buildings lost money because the miners moved to new places quickly. But a person living in town usually had more money and better conditions then the miners. The townspeople could make a fortune but if they weren’t careful, they could lose it just as fast. There were plenty of people willing to cheat, rob or swindle a tradesman out of his money.

For the miners, work stopped after dark but not for the townspeople. Their busy lives went round the clock in order to tap into the free-flowing money. It was no wonder that many of them, made their “strike” and left the gold fields as soon as possible. 

Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource? 

Resources were difficult when I first started. But because I gathered them over a long period of time as was able to find all I needed. But I would do it differently now. I would research on the Internet then visit the area and find books by local authors to find the small details not usually available on the Internet.

What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?

I think I did a good job of depicting the difficulty of a boomtown growing into a sustainable town with families, churches, and schools. But I think one thing I’d like to convey was why that is so important. In the early Gold Rush days, men really did find gold just sitting in the creek. They made fortunes in a little amount of time and that excitement reverberated throughout the world.

Men came from all over because they could make their dreams come true. But as the gold disappeared, that hope and excitement faded. People had to find a way to go on. Right now, in these post Covid times, I think were experiencing a similar difficulty adjusting to the “new norm.” I think we can all learn how to do that by looking to the past. 

Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?

Yes, I do have another book in the works! Thanks for asking. There are two minor characters in His Most Tender Touch named Penny Layton and Alex Marsden. Their love story is threatened by the outbreak of Civil War. Her Most Tender Trust is their story and it releases in July.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

I think it’s apparent I love and write about history but I also write romantic suspense. So … even though His Most Tender Touch is full of history and romance, it’s also chock full of exciting adventure! 

The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Tanya, thank you for joining us today!

If readers would like to purchase a copy of His Most Tender Touch,where might they be able to do so?

Right now, it’s available on Amazon as an ebook in Kindle Unlimited. I plan on creating a print version at later date.

If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?

You can find me on my website and you can sign up to follow my writing and travel adventures on my newsletter.

Over Sunday Dinner next week author Caryl McAdoo will be joining us. See you then!

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