Natalie S. Harnett is an MFA graduate of Columbia. She is a winner of the Sandra Schor Award for Fiction and Poetry and the James Kruezer Award for Most Promising Poet. She has been awarded an Edward Albee Fellowship, a Summer Literary Seminars Fellowship, and a Vermont Studio Center Writer's Grant. Harnett has been published in The Madison Review and The MacGuffin. She lives on Long Island with her husband and toddler.
Natalie Harnett's website
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An interview with Natalie S. Harnett about her first novel, The Hollow Ground, set amongst the deadly coal mine fires of 1960s Pennsylvania
Q. How did you come up with the idea for The Hollow Ground?
When I started The Hollow Ground, all I knew was that I wanted it set in Carbondale, PA and I wanted it told from the perspective of a young girl. I was also very interested in telling the story of what happened to Carbondale once the coal mines shut down. It took me many months to nail the young girl's voice, but once I did the writing took off. So at first the plot was more a process of discovery than planning. It wasn't until I learned about the Carbondale mine fire and knew I also wanted to tell the story of that fire that I wrote an outline and began the first draft of what would eventually become The Hollow Ground.
Q. This is a story about an environmental disaster that happened over fifty years ago. How does that have any relevance for today?
I think all the current controversy over fracking and oil drilling makes it especially relevant. It's a story about family and survival, but it's also a cautionary tale about what happens when we delve underground....
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