BackStory: Five Questions with Marie Hoy-Kenny
Author of In the Hours Before the 1959 Auchengeich Coal Mine Disaster
What inspired you to write ‘In the Hours Before the 1959 Auchengeich Coal Mine Disaster’?
My father’s brothers worked at the Auchengeich coal mine. The family moved to New Zealand shortly before this disaster occurred. The miners who lost their lives were my uncles’ shift partners and friends. My uncles have often talked about how, if they hadn’t moved when they did, they would have also lost their lives in this tragedy.
I thought about the fact that the Friday morning that this happened, the miners were going to work like every other day, looking forward to the weekend, not knowing that this would be the day that their lives would end tragically.
How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?
My uncles have talked about this many times over the years, but I didn’t know the month and day that it occurred. As I researched it, I was shocked to discover that the day I felt compelled to write this was the day following the anniversary of the tragedy.
What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?
My main character wished time away during his grueling shifts. I sometimes look forward to things so much that I want to speed up time. I often need to remind myself to stay present in the moment and that life’s definitely too short as it is without wanting to make time go faster. Every day is a blessing.
What do you like most about writing flash?
I’m fascinated by flash and micro fiction and it began when I read Ernest Hemingway’s famous (attributed) six-word story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I thought to myself, I feel something, deeply, and all I read was six words. How did he do that? I started avidly reading flash and trying to write my own. I love the challenge of telling a full story in a limited space. Every word is crucial and every sentence needs to pack a punch.
What do you think is the most challenging and/or rewarding aspect of writing historical flash?
Writing historical flash is rewarding because it inspires its readers to find out more about topics that they might not research otherwise. If someone looks up this tragedy and remembers those who lost their lives because of reading my story, I’ll be very happy.
Marie Hoy-Kenny is a writer, teacher, and mother, from Ontario, Canada. Her work has been published in Cease, Cows, Cosmonauts Avenue, Trampset, Prose Online, and other publications. Her father is from Scotland and his family lost very dear friends in the tragic Auchengeich coal mine disaster. You can find her on Twitter @mariehoykenny.