My college friend’s daddy owned a coal mine in West Virginia. When visiting there, my friend took me to her daddy’s company store, the miners’ only source to buy all supplies for their families. Her daddy also owned the miners’ homes, school, and church.
While on the store’s porch I saw a structure standing on skinny legs and taller than any other building around. It was a tipple. A coal mining tipple had a conveyor apparatus running from the coal mine on the hillside down to the tipple, which brought the mined coal down from the mine and into and through the tipple. The coal fell through an opening inside the tipple and loaded onto hopper railroad cars that would take the coal to wherever my friend’s daddy sold it.
The memory of that unique structure, the tipple, impressed me. When I began writing for publication, I wanted to write a novel about a coal mining community and its tipple.
My friend didn’t show me the miners’ houses. My research about West Virginia coal mines in the 1950s taught me about the substandard living conditions of miners’ families. Their rental houses had no running water and no bathrooms. They carried their water from the coal community’s one well.
Some writers find research for historical novels to be an unpleasant chore. For me, research on coal mining communities was an eye-opener. The pictures I found of coal communities caused me to have compassion for the residents and therefore I wrote passionately in my latest novel about their inadequate housing.
Research helped me to write authentically. My dialog and descriptions were more than cardboard imitations. My research was not a chore but valuable. It helped me to write with compassion about the characters in my novel Wait for Me who live in a coal mining community in West Virginia.
Jo Huddleston likes to laugh with people but not at people. The beach is her favorite vacation spot. Jo doesn’t like to see or hear about people or animals being abused. She’s a spectator fan of several sports, her favorite being tennis. Jo doesn’t like being in the dark and is fearful of snakes!
Jo is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series are sweet Southern historical romances. Her latest release, Wait for Me, is another sweet Southern historical romance, Book 1 in the West Virginia Mountains Series. She is a member of ACFW, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Visit Jo at www.johuddleston.com.