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The X-Files meets the coal business 1973 by Joe Harwell


DRAGLINE, my latest historical fiction novel released in June, 2013 on Amazon in print ($12.95) and eBook ($.99) gives readers insight to what the National Security Agency (NSA) was up to in 1973 as the Nixon administration crumbled under the Watergate scandal.

The lead character, a redhead named Sissy Mackenzie has been running around in my brain for 2 1/2 years while I spun this fast paced story. The 28 year old granddaughter of Marlon Mackenzie who operates a strip mine near Hartford, Arkansas, Sissy is a smart, tough, hard loving, hard drinking belly dancer who can operate a bulldozer and the mammoth dragline as well as any of the men who work for the company.

Marlon and Sissy’s father Jake depart Fort Smith, AR in April, 1973 in Jake’s restored B25 bomber. Family and friends are told they’re on a two-week trip advising the government and coal industry officials in Colombia on mining techniques. In truth, they are on a top secret mission arranged by the State Department.

A few days into their trip, Sissy receives a call from the government with news that her father and grandfather are missing. Unaware of her own connection to their true mission, she discovers clues Marlon left for her and finds the U.S. military and National Security Agency (NSA) are coming for her.

I worked in the coal mining industry in the 1970’s as an analysis lab technician and it was one of the most challenging, rewarding and enjoyable jobs in my varied career. I brought my experience from that industry and the mind of a fiction writer to this story. Sissy is one of the most dynamic characters I’ve ever written, wrestling with her internal battles and the responsibility to keep the company running when she and her family are threatened.

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