Hi guys, we have T.A. Chase stopping by today with her upcoming release A Coal Miner’s Son, we have a brilliant guest post from T.A. and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Coal Miner’s Son
James Callahan is the only son of Nicholas Callahan, owner of the Willow Hollow mine in West Virginia—but he’s never considered himself any better than the miners. He’s best friends with Owain Rees, one of the miners’ kids, and he’s been attracted to Cai, Owain’s older brother, for years. James gets the feeling he might not be the only one sensing the tension between them, but Cai avoids him religiously.
Cai has been working the mine since he was sixteen. He acknowledges James is cute, but he’s grown up privileged while Cai’s family has always been working class, and Cai fears that chasm is too wide to cross. When family drama pushes them together, will Cai and James see they’re more alike than they realized?
Take a leap of faith as two men from different worlds, employer and employee, rich and poor, discover that love transcends social barriers.
Hi, everyone. Thanks for having me here today. I’m T.A. Chase and I write gay romance, which probably isn’t a shock to most of you. J I’m here to chat about my new book coming out at Dreamspinner Press. It’s part of their States of Love line. My state is West Virginia and as you can tell by the title, it’s about coal mining.
A Coal Miner’s Son is about Cai, the coal miner’s son, and James, the mine owner’s son. James is wealthy in monetary ways. Yet Cai is rich in so many other ways because of his family and friends.
As I write this close to Christmas Eve, I can’t help but imagine how Cai and his family would be celebrating.
The day before Christmas Eve, Cai, along with his brother and father go out into the forest to get their tree. After they get it set up, Cai’s mother has him get down the family ornaments, some of which have come all the way from Wales with the first members of the Rees family to immigrate to West Virginia.
The ornaments would be simple things; pretty pieces of glass and tinsel. Wooden carved animals and symbols. In one chest would be a hand carved Nativity Scene. Each creature and human would be done in minute perfect detail. It would be beautiful in a different way than the one James’ family puts out every Christmas.
James would be included this Christmas. He’d get to help decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, plus help make the traditional Welsh taffy. His own family didn’t have many traditions. At least none that he knew of. He’s excited to be a part of the Rees Christmas, though his mother isn’t that thrilled that he’s not spending Christmas with her and his father.
Cai’s mother shows James how to make the taffy using Welsh butter, sugar, lemon juice and water. Once the taffy is cool enough to be handled, the pulling starts. The children join in and Cai teases James about how superstition states that the strands of taffy will form the initial of their true love. So James shapes some of it into a ‘C’.
When the taffy is done, they’ll be having dinner, playing games and singing songs. The young children are sent to bed because Santa is coming. The adults stay up until it’s time to head to church for the plygain service.
A plygain service starts around 4 in the morning with a beginning prayer from the priest. Once the prayer is done, the singing starts. The carols are sung solo, duets and groups, but it’ll be a cappella. All the families in Willow Hollow participates.
Each parti (group) will sing, never repeating a song and this will go on for two hours or so. At the end, the priest will say a blessing. The families head back home to celebrate Christmas. Cai and James will go to their house, catch a few hours of shut eye before heading back to Cai’s parents to watch the kids open their presents.
In many ways, it’ll be entirely different than anything James is used to. His family does the usual Christmas church thing, but that tradition isn’t the same as Cai’s family’s. He’ll love being part of it, though he doesn’t sing. Mostly because he’s not a great singer and the Rees men aren’t about to lose face with a terrible singer. James doesn’t mind because he could listen to Cai sing every second of his life if he could.
For many people, Christmas is all about family. James loves his parents, but he cares just as deeply for Cai’s family. Owain, Cai’s younger brother, is his best friend, and he thinks of Cai’s sisters like his own.
If I were to write a story about Christmas in Willow Hollow, it would be very close to the way I described it.
Thank you for letting me stop by and give you a little taste of what a traditional Welsh Christmas would be like, even though it takes place in West Virginia and not Wales. I hope you get a chance to stop by and check out A Coal Miner’s Son. Read how Cai and James fall in love and the family drama they have to over come.
“GREAT JOB, son.” Nicholas Callahan, James’s father and boss, slapped him on the shoulder. “I have to admit, when you first suggested making these changes, I thought you were crazy.”
“Not to mention wasting a lot of company money,” James said, hiding his wince at the force of his father’s jovial display of approval.
“Well, that’s true.” Nicholas dismissed James’s comment with a wave of his hand before he dropped into the chair behind his desk. “It was going to be a big cost and it was hard getting the board to spend it.”
James strolled over to the window. Placing his hand on the cool glass, he stared out over the city. The sun shone down on the buildings, but James didn’t see the beauty of it. All he saw was the vehicles on the streets and people on the sidewalks. Charleston was the capital of West Virginia, which wasn’t saying much. Yet James wasn’t interested in it. Just like he hadn’t really been interested in all the other major cities he’d visited and lived in throughout his thirty-four years.
“Although the initial cost was high, the changes made have ended up saving the company millions of dollars in fines.” He turned back to meet his father’s gaze. “Along with health insurance claims and work complaints. Maybe you won’t dig in your heels next time I want to make some changes.”
Nicholas snorted. “You know there will be a fight, no matter what, son. When it comes to spending money, there’s no way you’re getting it without jumping through hoops.”
That was the truth. Ever since James joined the company, he’d argued with the money people over every idea and change he wanted to make. It didn’t matter that he was the CEO’s only son. The board members hated giving up even a penny of the bottom line.
His father’s phone rang and James edged toward the door. “I’m leaving for Willow Hollow. I want to check the changes at the main mine. It’s been six months since we instituted the new safety measures. Also, the miner representative asked to meet with me.”
He dashed out of the office before his father could say anything. There was nothing his father disliked more than the miners and the people who represented them. Yet James had never had any trouble with them, even when they’d argued against the new safety measures he’d implemented earlier in the year. Their resistance had surprised him until his father reminded him that most people didn’t like change.
“James, my son, those people don’t like change. They like to do things the way they’ve always been done. I’m surprised they even agreed to it.” Nicholas shook his head.
It was a sentiment he’d heard most of his life. “Those people,” Nicholas called the miners and their families who lived in Willow Hollow. His father believed the townspeople were backward and ignorant. He’d done his best to keep James away from them, rarely allowing him to visit the main mine and keeping him close when they did go.
Yet James had figured out ways to sneak away and spend time with the miners’ children. He didn’t care that their clothes were ragged and their skin dirty. They didn’t care that James was neatly dressed and always so clean. None of that mattered. They only saw the fun they could have together. It was worth all the punishments James had suffered when he returned to his father covered in mud and leaves.
Willow Hollow had been a place of joy for James. A place where he could be a regular boy instead of Nicholas Callahan’s heir. Then he’d been sent to boarding school and college. It had been years before he’d been able to get back.
His phone buzzed as he arrived at his car. After checking the screen, he grimaced and silenced the ringing. Listening to his father rave about ignorant miners and ungrateful townsfolk wasn’t how James wanted to spend the next hour or so as he drove. God knew he’d never be able to get Nicholas off the phone until his father chose to end the call.
He unlocked the vehicle, tossed his briefcase into the backseat, then slid behind the steering wheel. Checking his watch, he saw he had more than enough time to go home, change his clothes, grab his bags, and get his truck. Some of the places he was going in the area around Willow Hollow weren’t reachable by car.
Light traffic meant he got home quickly and he parked his car in the garage. As he transferred his briefcase to his truck, the inside door leading into the house opened and his mother peeked out.
“Hey, Mom,” he said, smiling while heading toward her. Halfway there, his dog ambushed him. Pharaoh was a Rhodesian ridgeback that didn’t know his own size and strength. James braced himself and scratched Pharaoh’s ears. “Hello there, boy. You ready for our trip?”
The dog barked and his mother grimaced. She wasn’t fond of the dog hair left in Pharaoh’s wake.
“Hello, honey.” She lifted her chin and James dutifully placed a kiss on her cheek. “Are you still planning on driving out to the mine today?”
“Yes.” He eased past her into the mudroom, where he removed his shoes, then snatched them up. He knew better than to wear them through the house. Betty, their housekeeper, would beat him if he tracked in any kind of dirt.
His mother sighed. “Your father is having some business associates over tonight. We won’t be even at dinner.”
He shot her a quick glance over his shoulder. “I told you this morning at breakfast that I wouldn’t be here tonight, Mom.”
“Can’t you leave tomorrow?” She rested her hand on his arm. “There’s a nice young gentleman coming tonight that I’d love to introduce to you.”
Ah. Now her true plan came out. He patted her hand and sighed. “I appreciate your matchmaking attempts, but I can find my own dates.”
James had been afraid to come out when he realized he was gay, figuring there was no way his parents would accept him. He’d told them when he left for college, in case they didn’t take it well. Yet to his surprise, his mother never said one bad word. She simply rearranged her thinking, and instead of finding him a nice girl to marry, she was now doing her best to pick a nice boy for him.
Nicholas had seemed all right with his announcement, but to be honest, James was pretty sure his father still wasn’t comfortable that his son was a homosexual. So James had never brought any of his boyfriends home to meet his father. No point in suffering Nicholas’s silent disapproval.
“But honey, he’s a lovely young man. His mother is a member of my bridge club.” Abigail Callahan played bridge with the same group of ladies every Tuesday and had done so for as long as James could remember.
“I don’t remember any of your card ladies having gay sons,” James remarked, frowning as he wandered into the kitchen where Betty fussed with something. He walked over to kiss her temple. “How are you today, Betty?”
“I’m good, Master James. I’ll have a basket packed to take with you when you leave.” She turned to Abigail. “Dinner will be ready at six like you requested, ma’am.”
Abigail smiled. “Thank you, Betty.”
James grabbed a carrot from the pile, then dashed away from Betty’s gentle smack at his hand. “I’ll be back down in ten minutes.”
He took the stairs two at a time, then headed to his suite of rooms, Pharaoh right behind him. His shoes were set neatly next to the others at the bottom of his closet. His suit was put aside with the ones he’d worn that week. Betty would have them sent to the dry cleaner’s. James yanked out a pair of faded jeans, a well-worn T-shirt, a long-sleeved plaid shirt, and hiking boots. He changed as fast as he could, wanting to get out of the house as soon as possible. There was no telling if his father would rush home to catch him.
Once he was dressed, he picked up his bags and returned to the kitchen. His mother and Betty were chatting while Betty put the finishing touches on James’s snack basket.
He chuckled when she pushed it over to him. “Betty, there will be restaurants and gas stations for me to stop at if I get hungry,” he reminded her.
“There’s no way you’re stopping at those terrible places. Gas station food?” She shuddered. “I cut up vegetables and fruit. There’s some cheese, crackers, and some sandwiches. I had Robert put a cooler full of water bottles in the cab of your truck a little earlier. Plus there’s a snack in there for Pharaoh.”
He took the basket before kissing Abigail and Betty. “We both thank you. I’ll give you a call from Willow Hollow when I get there, Mom.”
“Drive carefully, honey.” Abigail patted his cheek. “I’ll talk to you tonight.”
After having Pharaoh jump into the truck, James packed the food away, making sure he had easy access to the basket, and got some water out. He didn’t like stopping very often while driving to the mine. His spelunking equipment went into the bed of the truck. That was another reason he was heading to Willow Hollow. There were several cave systems throughout the mountains there, and he loved spelunking.
He’d learned to enjoy it as a child, playing with the kids while his father inspected the mines. His obsession grew as he did, and since he came from a well-off family, he could indulge his hobby. There were caves in a lot of countries, so James took vacations where he could explore them.
But the ones he liked the most were in his home state. He hadn’t even gotten through a third of the caves in the southwestern part of West Virginia. Hell, there were hundreds more throughout the entire state, and he wanted to search them all.
Hitting the garage opener, James started the truck, then backed out. His mom and Betty were standing on the front steps of the house and he waved as he drove past. He smiled when he noticed his father’s car pull into the driveway just after he’d left. Thank God. I missed getting yelled at by minutes.
James stopped to fill up his gas tank and walk Pharaoh just outside of Charleston. Before he left the station, he hooked up his iPod and got his driving music set up. Also, he sent Owain, his close friend, a text to let him know he was on his way.
Owain Rees had been one of those dirty children James had played with all those years ago when they were little. Over the decades, James never broke off their friendship, appreciating how Owain hadn’t treated him differently than any of the other children. Plus they’d discovered they shared the same obsession for spelunking, though Owain didn’t hold with all the fancy names for their exploring.
Great. Found new cave for us to climb through. Get your ass to town.
He chuckled when he read Owain’s text. Can’t wait. Climbing through bat shit is the highlight of my day.
Pathetic. Need to get laid, then, man.
Not interested. Heading out now. Text you when I get close.
- Be safe.
Tossing his phone in the console between the front seats, James settled behind the wheel, then pulled out of the station. He hopped on 119 to head southwest down to Willow Hollow. It would take him two hours on the highway, then another hour or so on two-lane roads through forests.
T.A. Chase lives in the Midwest with her neurotic but still wonderful senior cat. She believes there is beauty in every kind of love, so why not live a life without boundaries? Experiencing everything the world offers fascinates T.A., and writing about the things that make each of us unique is how she shares those insights. When not writing, she’s watching movies and reading. She’s also a part of a line-dancing group that takes over a bar on Tuesday nights and entertains at assisted living homes. It’s all about living life to the fullest.
She loves hearing from fans. But don’t be too upset if she doesn’t get back to you right away. Life has a way of making her lose track of days and hours. Don’t worry, though. You will hear back at some point.