Just the ticket – the first writer-in-residence on a train

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Wednesday 18th July 2012

From universities and libraries to hotels and even prisons, novelists love being asked to be writers-in-residence at venerable institutions.

Well-known names like Fay Weldon, Kathy Lette and Michael Morpurgo have all leapt at the chance to do stints as writers-in-residence at London’s historic Savoy Hotel.

But crime writer Julia Crouch has gone one better. She’s become the UK’s first writer-in-residence on a train.

Rail company East Coast offered Julia the chance to write a short story, Strangeness on a Train, on the train from London’s King’s Cross to Harrogate and back again. It worked a treat. Her dark tale of a passenger who pushes a female traveller beyond her limits is published tomorrow (July 19) to coincide with the start of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

“There’s something wonderful about writing on trains,” says Julia. “Working on board the train seemed like being in a bubble of concentration as I moved through time and space, only being distracted when eavesdropping on the dramas of my fellow passengers as swathes of the countryside flashed past the windows.

“Some of it was inspired by things I saw and heard on the journey, other parts by the effects a train carriage has on the twisted mind of a crime writer. Over the journey from London to Harrogate I wrote the entire first draft, whilst also managing quite a bit of window-gazing, tea-drinking and even the odd glass of wine or two.”

4 comments so far

  • Love the idea of writing a short story on a train. Might try it next time I get the Eurostar!

  • Love it and I love writing on trains – and in our motorhome as it’s going along. I loved the fact that, despite being surrounded by people, the train provides a virtually distraction-free environment, almost lulling one to write. There’s also something about the motion and the situation that seems to fire me up and focus! Will look out for the result.

  • That sounds really good, Heather. And the idea of being in transit, with no distractions, sounds very appealing. I’m FAR too easily distracted!

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