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Tim Holt did grow up to be a writer after all

October 1, 2000
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

When Tim Holt first read Ernest Hemingway, he knew what he wanted to do with his life: He wanted to go to Spain and he wanted to write.

But since he couldn't afford Spain, he went to Mexico. And when he started writing short stories he knew he'd never make a living at it.

And that's how Tim Holt, editor of the Suttertown News for nearly 20 years, ended up in journalism.

Holt was born in Sacramento in 1948, graduated from McClatchy High School, and attended UC Berkeley during the turbulent years of the '60s. ("I was an observer, not a participant," he points out.)

In 1971 he graduated from Cal with a degree in modern Chinese history. It was at this point that he thought Hemingway would be a good role model.

But when that experiment didn't work out, Holt headed off to New York where he earned a degree in journalism at Columbia.

But even with a degree he couldn't find steady work in the Bay Area.

"A friend suggested that I start my own newspaper in Sacramento, so I did," said Holt. "The first issue came out in the spring of 1975."

The last issue came out in 1993.

"It was definitely always a struggle financially," said Holt, who used to deliver newspapers on his bicycle. But as the years rolled by, Holt credits the paper for championing light rail, and for reporting on the myriad neighborhood and restoration movements then beginning to be felt in downtown Sacramento. The paper never had more than 1 or 2 reporters - Holt and usually an unpaid intern from Cal State Sacramento (one of those interns was Melanie Turner, city reporter for The Enterprise).

"People in the community seemed to appreciate what I was doing," he said in a recent phone interview from his home in Dunsmuir.

"Over the years I had a few people who wanted to buy it, but at the end when I was willing to sell the paper it was a financial basket-case," he said. "So we weren't able to pass along the torch. It was a labor of love for the cause of community journalism."

And Holt had something else he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to live simply in a small town and write. So he and his partner Sandra Hood moved to Dunsmuir, 50 miles north of Redding, the town his parents grew up in.

Tim and Sandra started a growers' market in Dunsmuir, the first in Siskiyou County. It's still going strong.

"I lead a low-overhead life," he said. "I haven't owned a car in 20 years. We're trying to build a sustainable lifestyle here by growing our own food and not running to the mall every time we need something. If we want apple juice, we squeeze the apples. It leads to a better and more productive life."

He's found time to write and publish several books including his latest novel, a future history called "On Higher Ground: A Postmodern Romance."

He describes this book as a novel of ideas, a description of how people are going to cope in the future when the climate-controlled, air-purified domed cities of tomorrow fail. Refugees from cities will flock to the country (if they survive) and will be forced to adapt to lifestyles that contribute to self-sustaining local economies.

"The central character named Jess flees Sacramento for the Mt. Shasta region where he experiences the natural environment after years of deprivation," said Holt.

Holt says Berkeley's Ernest Callenbach, author of the seminal "Ecotopia," made many changes to his original manuscript, a kind act that Holt very much appreciates.

"On Higher Ground" ($12.95) may be purchased at local independent bookstores such as The Avid Reader in Davis or The Next Chapter in Woodland or Tower Books in Sacramento, for which Holt has a sentimental weakness. And if you'd like to meet Holt, he will be giving a reading at The Avid Reader on Thursday and The Next Chapter on Friday, both at 7:30 p.m.

To buy from Holt directly, contact Suttertown Publishing, P.O. Box 214, Dunsmuir, CA 96025.

And, of course, he plans to bicycle down from Redding for the Sacramento-Davis-Woodland leg of his Northern California book tour.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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