Today’s Spotlight is on The Rescued Heart by Tierney James
This is your first romantic suspense. What other kinds of books do you write?
I started out writing romantic action thrillers. That is by far my favorite kind of story to read and write. I’ve written a couple of children’s books as well. I’m working on an urban fantasy right now that is really making me stretch my imagination. I love it. So as long as I can keep suspense in my stories I’ll walk (maybe run) down a lot of avenues.
How did you come to write a novel about mining in the Ozarks?
When my husband graduated from the Rolla School of Mines he took a position with the St. Joe Lead Company. It was located in Iron County in the little town of Viburnum, population 750. There were other mining companies in the area. Later St. Joe was sold and became The Doe Run Company. Everyone in several counties had some connection to the mining industry, just like in The Rescued Heart. The mining culture is unique and very protective of their way of life. My life was amazing living here and raising my children. Even today my love for this part of Missouri beats strong in my heart. Although so much of The Rescued Heart is fiction, I wanted to share a little part of the flavor of the area. Trust me. Mining can generate a great deal of romance when you don’t know if danger awaits you 1000 feet underground.
Is there a lot of mining done in Missouri?
Missouri is known for being The Show Me State. The truth is we should be known as The State of Mines. The lead industry is the largest in the world and some of the best, just like in the book.
Tell me about your characters in The Rescued Heart. There were some pretty unusual names. Is that something you would hear in the imaginary town of Westfork?
Many of the names came from local creeks, family names you could find in the phone book and even state parks. But all of the characters are fictional. There really is a Westfork, but it’s a wide place in the road. The Westfork in The Rescued Heart, is a thriving town with a town square, shopping and restaurants, nothing like the real Westfork or Viburnum. The towns of Bunker, Salem, Farmington and Rolla really exist. But the story doesn’t revolve around them.
Does the Turnbough Lead Company compare to a real mining operation?
On the surface, I think the Turnbough Lead Company is like a real mining operation. There is a mine rescue team, safe guards to protect the miners, the descriptions of the head frame and underground is pretty true to life. However, mining is an art. All the pieces must work together to get the lead out. The sounds, smells, the tailings pond, those are many things you’d find. Having one person own and operate mines of this magnitude, well those days are gone. The danger is real but nothing like coal mining. I’ve been underground and I was amazed how huge and cavernous the lead mines are. Truly, dinosaurs could walk around without bumping their heads.
What kind of research did you have to do, especially about mine accidents?
Because I lived and worked in this community for 25 years, the topic of conversation usually turned to mining at home, church and social gatherings. It’s easy to absorb a great deal of information when you live and eat lead dust. But my husband helped me a great deal with technical terms, processes, and routines of the working miner. I couldn’t have done it without him. Reading some geology and mining books also helped.
Living in a mining community must present a unique educational experience. What kind of things changed your life?
We lived 60 miles from everywhere. The saying in Viburnum was “We don’t live at the end of the world, but you can see it from where we live.” Most of us moms had to drive to Farmington, a good hour drive, to have a baby or take the kids to the doctor. We were notorious for taking a sick kid to the doctor then going to Wal-Mart for groceries because our biggest store was about the size of a Dollar General. If you wanted to go to the movies, McDonalds or shop you had to plan ahead. Being isolated in the middle of the Mark Twain National Forest we didn’t even get the flu like other places. The community was very family centered because we didn’t have a choice. No cell towers, movie theaters or YMCA in Viburnum. Kids played ball, hunted, fished and went to church picnics. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts was a big draw. I loved it!
Where can readers learn more about mining?
http://www.pinterest.com/ptierneyjames/the-rescued-heart/ is a board I created on Pinterest. I think if people give it a look they’ll get a mental picture of mining in the Ozarks. That should be a good launch spot to see what direction to go. Also try Missouri Mining or The Doe Run Company. Rock quarries are also under the umbrella of mining so don’t forget to check those resources as well.
Other books by Tierney James:
Winds of Deception is due out June 8th.
Tierney James is a former Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as well as a former geography teacher. Besides working on a Native American reservation, floating the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Africa and visiting The Great Wall of China, she has spent time at Space Camp for Educators and volunteering her time for Friends of the Library board. Living in a mining community for many years led to writing the novel, The Rescued Heart, a romantic suspense. Between traveling, gardening and writing, Tierney serves as an officer for Sleuth’s Ink, a mystery writing group. Creating a writing workshop for beginning writers is her latest project.