In a world where absolutely nothing is what it seems, where the light of day is extinguished and the smell of emissions assault your senses, the miner maneuvers his heavy machinery and swipes the blackened river of sweat from his face. He reaches for his flask and swigs the cool water, wishing it was a cold beer and he was enjoying a BBQ or out fishing.
He is a man (or woman) of giant capabilities. He has initiative, he is industrious and… he has a novel, The Halfling. The newly released book, penned by Melissa H North, has gone underground.
Underground hard rock mining, that is, at Glencore Mount Isa. The novel has been selling like crisp cold beer at a Cowboy’s game, with new avenues of purchase aligning every day. Online, at bookstores, newsagency’s and soon to be venues in larger Queensland.
Unlike the normal 9-5 job, miners work crazy hours. Losing sleep on rotating night and day shifts consisting of 12 hour stints. These guys (and girls) work damn hard! It’s a work environment limited to indefatigable people because not everyone can tolerate these kinds of conditions on a daily basis.
The deeper the mine, the hotter the climate and humidity factor which makes safety a paramount concern, and these guys have to be physically fit, aware of their environment at all times. There is always the threat , the very real threat, of a rock fall or accident but after long exposure, they are conditioned to not even fear for their lives anymore. I guess its similar to watching horror movies, the more you watch, the less even the most gruesome scenes, scare you.
Long, almost, eerie silences are broken with the loud rumblings of machinery, when working in secluded places, where your only friend is a UHF radio, however, being use to the conditions, they get on with the task until ‘Crib’ time. The best time. Crib is mining slang for a break, or lunch time. So, what better way to escape reality by losing yourself in a fantasy fiction novel.
The new paper smell of the book is strangely at odds with the blended mix of sweat, diesel and food at crib time. The miner lets the pages open, the whiteness in stark contrast to his stained fingers and begins to read.
The miner, can take pride in the fact that they work under conditions that most people couldn’t tolerate. And my hard hat goes off to them in salute. To all you hard working guys and girls underground, enjoy your beer tonight, you deserve it!