Ninie Hammon’s Blog for Readers

What REALLY happened in the mine that day?

Posted: July 6, 2015, 2:07PM

Black Sunshine is my favorite book. Please don't tell the other books. There's soooo much sibling rivalry.


       At least, today Black Sunshine my favorite book because I just got a call from the ex-coal miner who is the reason every coal mining detail in the book is absolutely accurate. He told me—in his also-authentic hillbilly accent—that the sweet ladies at the coal mining museum in Benham, Kentucky had read the book and loved it..

        “They wasn’t impressed that the coal mining parts was accurate,” Jerry Asher said. “They loved the book because the people parts was right. You didn’t poke fun at nobody, made the people real—like they was somebody who lived right next door.” 

        When he said that, I choked up—pretended to cough until I could get my voice level. What those ladies said meant the world to me! Because Black Sunshine isn’t about coal mining. It’s about coal miners and their families, about women who watch their men “go down” every morning and pray they’ll make it home for supper alive. It’s about a terrible tragedy, courage and forgiveness. And it’s all told in a freight-train rush of suspense as the main character tries to keep yet another crew of miners from dying in a mile-deep hole under Black Mountain.       

          Let me introduce you to some of the “real people” from Black Sunshine. Below is a short excerpt.


                         BLACK SUNSHINE

                           By Ninie Hammon


       A tremendous, thundering boom slams into Will; the sound and pressure hurl him head over heels up the shaft. His body ricochets off the roof, the floor and the coal-pillar walls like a bullet fired into a rock pile.

         And then he is on his back, a ferocious roar in his ears. His eyes stare into black nothingness. Blind! Not a pinprick of light anywhere. And all around him is a stink—something’s burning.

         Completely disoriented, Will has no idea where he is. Did he fall out of bed? Is he in the woods—where are the stars? He sits up slowly and turns around. Behind him, fifteen feet away, a headlamp shines upward through dark air—smoke!—toward the roof, lighting up the fossil ferns like fleece wallpaper. A few feet beyond, another headlamp beam shines out across the floor.

         Then realization hits him harder than the force that flung him down the shaft. The mine! Explosion!

         Will reaches up; his helmet’s gone. He doesn’t trust his legs to stand, so he crawls along the rails to the first beam of light. It’s Ricky Dan on his back, his eyes closed. He’s not moving.

         Will calls out his name and can barely hear his own voice. It’s as if his whole head’s packed in cotton. He touches his ears and feels no blood; his eardrums are in tact. But his nose is bleeding and he wipes it on his sleeve.

         “Ricky Dan!” he cries in that strange, hollow, echoing voice. He grabs Ricky Dan’s shirt and shakes him. “Wake up!”

         Ricky Dan’s eyes flutter open. Then close again. Will shakes him hard and when his eyes open back up they stay open. But there’s no recognition in them, they stare out blankly.

         Will slaps Ricky Dan’s face. “Ricky Dan, we gotta get out of here. It blew. The mine blew!”

         Confusion downshifts into dawning understanding on Ricky Dan’s face. He rolls over on his side and Will helps him sit up.

         “Come on,” Will urges. “We gotta run!”

         As soon as Ricky Dan sits, he begins to cough. Thick, black smoke billows at them in the darkness. He lurches to his feet, then turns and begins to stagger back down the shaft toward the smoke.

         “No, Ricky Dan.” Will jumps up and grabs his arm. “Not that way. We have to get out of here!”

         “Daddy!” It is the cry of a lost little boy. He shakes off Will’s grip on his arm. “I’m not leaving my father!”

         His words punch Will in the belly. It hadn’t registered.  Bowman’s back there! At the face where it blew.

         “Help! My leg … help!”

         The light that had shone out across the floor is now pointed at Will and Ricky Dan. They hurry to Lloyd’s side and Ricky Dan sweeps his headlamp beam down the length of Lloyd’s body. His left boot is missing and his foot is cocked at an unnatural angle. His ankle must be broken.

         “I can’t walk. You gotta help me!”

         Will turns to Ricky Dan. “I can’t get Lloyd outta here by myself. If you go back … ” He doesn’t finish the sentence because he doesn’t have to.

         Ricky Dan looks toward the face of the mine. The light from his headlamp reveals a cloud of boiling smoke. He stares transfixed, an expression of yearning and horror on his face.

         “Ricky Dan,” Will urges, “we have to go—now!”

         With a strangled sob, Ricky Dan turns back and grabs Lloyd’s arm. “We’ll have to drag ’im.”

         Will grabs Lloyd’s other arm and together he and Ricky Dan pull him on his back down the shaft toward the mouth of the mine. Lloyd cries out in pain as they bump him over the left rail and pull him along between the tracks. The rails are their lifeline. A straight shot out. Without them, they’d get hopelessly lost in the dark and smoke.

          Will has no helmet so he keeps his head down, but his back drags across the roof as he runs down the shaft. His shirt is soon soaked and his back is quickly scratched and bruised, scraped across the rough rock surface and an occasional roof bolt or plate. The bolts are almost flush with the roof; lean over and you clear them. But running as fast as you can, it’s almost impossible to stay bent over far enough.

         The smoke grows thicker by the second, a black cloud of death that chokes them as he and Ricky Dan pull Lloyd behind them in the dirt.

         They glance sideways down every break—hoping. But there are no seals on any of them. The concussion of the explosion has blown down all the curtains and cinder block walls that direct good air down the rail line shaft to the face. Without them, the fan—if it wasn’t destroyed by the blast—is merely sucking clean air across the front fifty feet of the mine and right back out the other side. The rest of the mile-deep mine will fill completely with deadly smoke in a matter of minutes.

         And the three miners know they can’t possibly make it all the way out before that happens.

         Ricky Dan falls, coughing.

         Will’s head spins; every breath is a searing agony. He wants to urge Ricky Dan to get up, to keep running, but he has no air to speak and he can feel his own strength begin to fail, to leak out of him like water circling a drain.

         Ricky Dan stumbles to his feet and they push ahead. Past one more fifty-foot coal pillar, one more break with a blown-out seal. Their eyes burn; smoke has filled the shaft all around them. Lloyd’s weight drags so heavy now they can barely stagger forward.

         All at once, Ricky Dan drops Lloyd’s arm, stumbles to his right and vanishes in the smoke. Will collapses to his knees, coughing violently. It’s over. He can go no farther. He is so dizzy he starts to pitch forward into the dirt. Ricky Dan suddenly reappears out of the cloud of swirling dark. He grabs Lloyd’s arm and motions for Will to follow; he has no breath to speak. Will gets to his feet and lurches after Ricky Dan, dragging Lloyd behind him.

         If this excerpt whetted your appetite for the book, you can click here to read the whole first chapter or here to find the book on Amazon. 

       And if you decide to read it, I’d love to know what you think. You can email me at or post on my Facebook page, Ninie Hammon-Novelist.

        That part where I told you I love to hear from readers--I meant that part!  And I reply to every email. Like my characters, I’m just somebody who lives right next door.

Write on!




Robinn G July 24, 2015, 4:30PM

Wow! As soon as I have money (hopefully next week!), I will definitely be purchasin this ebook!! I can't wait to finish the part about the reunion and what the one guy's terrible secret!   Reply

Replies (1)

Roberta October 4, 2015, 5:13PM

I have read this Book, and it was fantastic. I even read some parts to my husband. We both the "voices" of this story. In certain places I found myself holding my breath, fearful yet excited for was coming next. I don't know much about the mining life as it exists in the mine, but I could feel the heartbeat of those survivors. I imagine the mining community is as closed to others as any other unusual life is to those people who only get to have a look see. The medical life in a hospital or the life of a unit deployed to war. Dear 9e, you have a way with words that isn't often found in others. You have authenticity.   Reply

Replies (1)

Anna Rasmussen March 13, 2016, 12:14AM

I was trying to guess the secret all the way through the book, I kept changing my mind, but then, pow! You did a great job with the main secret, thank you so much. The people were so real and the relationships so intertwined and I could feel so much pain and heartache. You do tell a great story. Keep on keeping on.   Reply

Replies (1)

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"Oh, and about the 9 and the e beside my name. Say it fast, emphasis on the 9. That’s how you pronounce my first name -9e. (Think “rhymes with tiny and shiny, NOT with skinny and penny.”)

Suspense Author

I have soooo many stories I want to tell you, so many worlds I want you to see, so many people I want you to meet. People in trouble, most of them. Big trouble they didn't ask for but there it is. Ordinary folks like you and me who are forced by circumstances to fight for their lives. And then, smack in the middle of their everyday worlds they encounter the unexplainable. It's always the game-changer.

Welcome to my world. If you'd like to know more about me, I'm easy. Click on Meet Ninie and you'll see. My life isn't really an open book; it's more of a pamphlet, and you are cordially invited to read it. I'd love to interact with you on Twitter, Facebook Fan page, and Goodreads. Or come visit with me at 9e's Kitchen Table, a Facebook group where readers and I hang out. I think you'd like it.