Our fifth book, ‘Francine – Dazzling Daughter of the Mountain State’ has been out for a few short months, and we are bringing it to our readers’ attention!
Like Fiona in ‘Enchanting The Swan’, Francine, the bright and beautiful West Virginian, was born at the College of William & Mary. She was one of those fabulous young students I met in the midst of our daughter’s sorority circle, their sorority house, and the sunken garden.
But it was the mountains of beautiful West Virginia and the contrasting devastation of its coal country, which spirited Francine’s story. How could such bad economic and adverse environmental management destroy so many happy families and throw them into desperation and suffering? A repetition of Upton Sinclair’s gripping tale of King Coal?
Francine is graduating first in class at William & Mary’s Mason Business School in 2010 when she is confronted with the horrible mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine near Whitesville along Coal River in West Virginia. Twenty-nine miners lost their lives due to gross mismanagement of mine safety. It spurs her to forego a lucrative career in investment banking and join OHARA Mining Inc., the New York-based international mining company which has its roots in West Virginia. She will never forget the fate of those twenty-nine miners and attends the unveiling of their memorial in Whitesville in 2012 on behalf of her company. Her whole life will be dedicated to advance the lives of the company’s miners she works for.
Why place a novel about a promising girl in a mining company? Why not jewelry, fashion or music like A Coal Miner’s Daughter, agents asked whom I offered the story at Writers conferences. It would choke off a certain group of readers. Well, so be it: Francine took up the fight, and she made it up in the corporate world.
Throughout the novel, she faces difficult issues, from fights in Congress and with a belligerent anti-coal EPA to financial and pollution problems with OHARA’s gold and bauxite investments in the Guyanas of the Caribbean, in Georgetown Guyana, Paramaribo and Suriname River, Suriname. She is sent to Sumatra for her mining engineering expertise to help rescue miners in an OHARA mine who got trapped inside after an earthquake.
And she battles with China on corruptive practices she discovers in OHARA. She participates in rallies of the United Mine Workers with Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Manchin speaking for miners’ rights for health care and pensions.
I found Francine’s family home in Beckley, on Timber Ridge Drive, visited the nearby Woodrow Wilson Highschool where she graduated, and admired the spectacular West Virginian scenery where she went trout-fishing with her father in the New Gorge River.
To their credit, Kirkus Reviews recognized Francine’s perseverance and that of the miners she stands up for and gave the manuscript a resounding positive critique. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/john-schwartz/francine/.
Just one click takes you to a good read!