Content below the cut is rated PG-17 (Not PG-13)
Guest Author Joe Harwell
Dragline ~ Historical fiction
I’m happy to have author Joe Harwell with us today for an interview.
What do you like to do to balance the demands writing places on you?
I spend time with my grandchildren. As a self-published author, I’m involved in business networking groups which help . I also participate in car cruises and attend car shows.
What do you like to read?
I read political biographies which comes from an interest in history and politics beginning in 1968 when I was 14. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated that year and it was a turning point in the Vietnam war, American politics and my view of the world. I weave some degree of politics into all of my novels
How long have you been writing?
I owned a newspaper and local origination television station in the 1990’s and wrote articles and copy. I began writing my first novel in 2009 after the death of my wife of Becky. We met in high school and writing was my grief therapy, a way to mentally escape the pain and sorrow I experienced.
Which one of your publications will you be sharing in the interview?
Dragline is my latest book, a historical fiction novel set in the western Arkansas coal mining industry in 1973. A dragline is the mammoth machine that digs rock and dirt from the ground at a surface mine to expose the coal. The main character Sissy MacKenzie and the idea for the book have been in my head for three years. I worked in the mining business in that area during the 1970’s as a coal analysis lab technician and it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had from the standpoint of income, enjoyment as a career and the people I worked with. The storyline includes interesting aspects of the coal mining business with a very unusual plot twist which enters about two thirds of the way into the story.
Twenty-eight year old Sissy MacKenzie works for her grandfather Marlon at his coal mine near Hartford, Arkansas in 1973. The beautiful, hard drinking and hard loving redhead has good business sense and operates a bulldozer and the mammoth dragline with great skill.
As a favor to the State Department, Marlon and Sissy’s father Jake travel to Colombia advising the government and coal industry officials there on strip mining techniques. While managing the mine in their absence, Sissy receives a call with news that her father and grandfather are missing.
With the help of her mother and a trusted employee who she’s involved with romantically, Sissy launches an investigation into their disappearance and discovers her family has been drawn into an international conspiracy and her life is now in danger. She goes on the run to stay one step ahead of the military, National Security Agency and the CIA as they come for her during this tumultuous time in American politics as the Nixon administration begins to crumble from the Watergate scandal.
Sissy slowly became aware of an on and off bothersome sound interrupting her sleep. “Go away,” her internal voice complained when she realized it wasn’t part of a dream. Feeling a pillow close by, she considered pulling it over her right ear until the throbbing pain of a monster hangover pounding inside her head halted any thought of movement.
“Damn!” she murmured when the noise wouldn’t stop. Awake enough to realize it was the telephone beside the bed, her first thought was, “Screw it!” The next was, “What time is it?” Slowly opening her eyes, Sissy looked for the green fluorescent dots and hands on the face of the alarm clock, then realized she wasn’t even looking in the right direction.
A man’s voice groaned beside her, saying, “Are you gonna get it?”
As reality pushed through the hangover, Sissy slowly rolled onto her back next to him. When Phil stayed the night, he always ended up on her side of the bed. As the phone kept ringing, Sissy reluctantly moved to answer it and the hangover gave all it could as she slid across Phil’s hairy chest. Focusing on the clock while reaching for the phone, her vision cleared just enough to see it was almost three-thirty. Phil groaned and moved as Sissy stretched her hand toward the phone, knocking the alarm clock onto the floor.
“Stay still!” she protested, while repositioning herself to grab the phone.
Playfully placing his hands around her hips, Phil said, “It’s probably Victoria callin’ to see if you’re alone.”
“I know, but I have to answer it.” Stretching toward the phone again, she pushed it into the lamp, barely managing to catch the receiver as the base crashed to the floor. Phil laughed and managed to grab the lamp before it fell too. Sissy quickly placed her other hand over his mouth and put the receiver to her ear.
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