It’s no secret that a coal miner's life was hard, especially back in the 1960s. Safety requirements had yet to be enforced, and often, when a mine collapsed, men lost their lives, leaving families with no means of support.
My character in Mountain Laurel Christmas lost his father to the Kentucky coal mines when he was a young child. Here's a glimpse.
Shifting away from the intrusive interviewer, I stare past him at a memory as vivid as if it were yesterday.
Mama sank into the nearest threadbare chair and crumpled into a heap of sobs.
The man laid a clumsy hand on her shoulder. “Mrs. Anderson, I’m sure sorry. We tried everything to get Robert out, but when that section of the mine gave away. Well, we just couldn’t get in. It was awful bad.” The miner sighed and shoved a hand covered with coal dust in his pocket. “I’ll have the missus come around and check on you if that’s okay.”
While I could hear the fateful words falling out of the foreman’s mouth, they weren’t registering in my twelve-year-old brain.
Wide-eyed, I watched, a growing lump closing off my throat like a vise.
Mama didn’t answer that day. The kind of grief a person only feels when their entire world is snatched away wracked her body. Her frail shoulders heaved with heart-wrenching sobs. Guttural cries sprang from deep inside. The hair on the back of my neck prickled and stood on end.
Grief broke the children’s mother and rendered her useless to the family. When I write a heart-wrenching scene like this one, I experience my character’s grief, loss, anger, and helplessness. Many times I have to pause and take a minute to compose myself. As a writer, it is my goal to make the reader feel these same emotions.
I'd love to hear from you. How do you react to scenes like this one? What is your approach to writing scenes of heartbreak?
Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner's cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain.
Daring to follow an impossible dream, he's made it big in the music business. Now, he's a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he's drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.
It's easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth...he hasn't delivered on a promise he made to his father.
It's almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?
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