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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Mines and Manuscripts

Mines and Manuscripts

I was in the Poconos last week, enjoying a writing retreat and then a couple days with my family.  During my day and a half alone, I wrote a chapter in my WIP – which may not seem like a lot, but it was significant for me.  I had taken a break from the manuscript while my sister’s family was visiting from Kansas, and the quiet solitude of the mountains helped me reconnect with the story.  I pushed into the final 5 chapters (which I actually have outlined, believe it or not).
When my family joined me, we visited the Harry HoudiniMuseum, which I mentioned in my last post, and we also took a tour of the No. 9 Coal Mine in Lansford, PA.  I’ve wanted to take a mine tour ever since I started a story last fall set in the early 1900’s centering around mysterious activities at a Pennsylvania mine. I dropped the story due to various plot problems, and after my tour I see a few more snags in my storyline. 
It wasn’t so much a problem of inaccuracies about the mine operation itself.  Those are details easily changed.  The biggest snag is my character Cage Harrison, the love interest for my MC who inherits his family mine business at age 18.  I have portrayed him as a benevolent mine owner who tries to do right by his employees and even throws his back into the digging when a collapse traps some of his workers. That kind of mine owner didn’t exist.  In fact, having my MC, an archeologist’s daughter, discover ancient alien artifacts buried in caves near the mine is MORE believable than a turn-of-the-century mine owner who gives a damn about his workers.  Our tour guide made a point of telling us several times that the MULES were more valuable than the human workers.
So that story is going to remain on the shelf for now.  I’m going to continue with the contemporary fantasy I’m working on, and hopefully finish the first draft in the next week.
But I won’t forget about the mine completely.  I may have to re-envision the story entirely, but how can I not want to write about a place like this?
Double steam powered elevator.
The elevator was operated from the surface and left every 5 minutes whether workers were out of the way or not.
The work space of your average miner in the 20th century.
The work space of your average miner in the 19th century. Your cubicle no longer seems so bad, huh?
*Photos taken by my husband, Bob Salerni.

15 Responses to Mines and Manuscripts

  1. Sarah says:

    Those are amazing photos, Dianne! I would find that setting very inspiring, and I agree that you need to find a way to write a story that includes such a haunting, haunted place.

  2. Very cool! Where was your writing retreat in the Poconos? I’m asking because I live in the Poconos and I wasn’t aware of one here other than the local SCBWI one in April.

  3. Linda G. says:

    Eek! Makes me claustrophobic just looking at those pics. Talk about atmospheric.

  4. That character might be implausible, but I still like the idea.

    Cool photos!

  5. Spooky photos! Well, even if an owner wouldn’t have given a damn, maybe there’s someone on the chain of command that might have been more like your MC. Sounds like a great time!

  6. Julie Dao says:

    Fascinating! Glad your visit helped you work out the kinks and inaccuracies in your story. There’s nothing like a real-life experience to help you convey a true setting!

  7. mshatch says:

    Those pictures say steampunk to me.

  8. DL Hammons says:

    Awesome pictures!! I think mines are great settings for stories, particularly creepy ones.

    And just because it’s not historically correct doesn’t mean you can’t tell that story. It sounds interesting to me. 🙂

  9. LOVE your new profile picture.

    And y’know, I think depicting Cage as different from the norm for that time would provide your story with extra richness. The other mine owners, for example, wouldn’t exactly be standing in line to get his autograph, so there’d be lots of new possibilities for conflict. Just because most mine owners were SOBs doesn’t mean they ALL were… or that you couldn’t invent one with heart. Sounds super to me.

    While we were in MD, we visited a location from my book, too. I’d never been there before, so it was really neat to actually see it, and take pictures of it. My imagination of the place was a lot more grandiose than the reality. (It’s an old factory that got renovated as luxury apartments.)

  10. LTM says:

    Maybe it could be a fantasy in which the mine owner is benevolent…? Yes? 😀

    Those pix are totally cool. I think you should write a thriller w/them. And personally, the idea of an evil mine-owner sounds like it might be fun… 😀 <3

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  12. Those pictures are awesome! What a great setting for a story. Don’t give up on the mining story. It sounds like it will be a good one.

  13. It’s funny, most people find research very liberating but I often find it stifling. How terrible to discover a fact and have to temporarily shelf a novel because of it! I hope you re-envision and overcome the snags. Good luck on your other draft. You are a writing machine! 🙂

  14. Tonja says:

    Both of my grandfathers were coal miners. One had black lung. They never talked about their experience, which makes me want to research it and write about it.

  15. Lydia Kang says:

    Progress is progress, so congrats on that! As for the mining photos, man I am claustrophobic just looking at them.