Media Life: Old Town Auburn provides inspiration for author's new novel

Writing done a stone's throw from memorial to Auburn's revered fantasy writer
By: Gus Thomson Media Life
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Georgetown?s Denes McIntosh finds Tsuda eatery perfect place to pen ?Wilderness;? Auburn?s Clark Ashton Smith joins Verne, Steinbeck on list of noted authors who write about Auburn, Placer County. AUBURN CA - The ghost of Clark Ashton Smith may have been lurking in the low light as a potential muse for Georgetown?s Denes McIntosh as he diligently worked away on his novel-to-be at Tsuda caf in Old Town Auburn. Smith, arguably Auburn?s greatest writing product, was known to quaff an adult beverage or two in his day at Old Town establishments but McIntosh stuck to Tsuda?s house coffee and a bagel. The result is his just-published novel ?Wilderness.? McIntosh decided that a room in his Georgetown house or out on the deck in temperate weather wasn?t going to cut it. Instead, he chose a place that was welcoming but far away from his hometown of three years to ensure virtually nobody knew him. Auburn seemed to be a good destination far enough away to write and McIntosh scouted pretty much every nook and cranny with java for sale. He ended up at Tsuda in Old Town. If you were there while he typed away, McIntosh describes the man you might have spotted as the tall, skinny, gray-haired guy tucked away in the corner with a laptop. ?It just felt good in there,? McIntosh said. ?It?s so nice to go to an establishment where nobody knows you. People were friendly and respectful.? Old Town Auburn means many things to many people. Now it can lay claim to being an incubator for a new novel. Published by Denver, Colo.?s Outskirts Press, ?Wilderness? is subtitled ?Where One?s Inner Wilderness Meets the Natural World.? Using San Francisco and some El Dorado County settings, it tells the tale of a wilderness guide and his observations and interaction with the people he comes in contact with in his work and in his life. McIntosh, in between working on his novel, is also an ardent cultural blogger, with his Coyote Tracks posts. ?Wilderness? is available through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as at Auburn references abound Speaking of Clark Ashton Smith, he was conspicuous in his absence from the Media Life listing a few weeks back of literary giants such as Jules Verne and John Steinbeck who have made mention of Auburn in their works. With the help of Smith scholar Scott Connors of Red Bluff, we can now fill in that gaping chasm. Smith, Connors informs us, set a number of stories in or near Auburn. One example would be ?The Root of Ampoi,? which starts with the line: ?The circus had come to Auburn?? Another, ?The Devotee of Evil,? opens in the old Carnegie Library. Others in or near Auburn include ?The Phantoms of the Fire? and ?The City of The Singing Flame.? Smith stories were read with amazement in pulp fiction fantasy magazines of the 1930s and have since been enshrined in the recently published ?Collected Fantasies.? But Connors said Smith wasn?t enamored with the idea of setting his wildly imaginative tales in Auburn. That was because he liked to have complete control over his stories, something setting the action too close to home didn?t provide, he said. Smith, who was born on the outskirts of Auburn and lived most of his life in what is now the Skyridge area, has a devoted worldwide following. Locally, his memory is preserved with a plaque on a large boulder. The rock was removed before houses were built at the site of his cabin home near present-day Poet Smith Drive. And the boulder and plaque are now located in Centennial Park, not too far away from the Tsuda door front. Media Life?s Gus Thomson can be reached at Also hear Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal?s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. And you can catch up with Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.