Trains… and trains and trains

I’d better start with an apology to anybody waiting for Pitkirtly VII (A Tasteful Crime). I am gradually working through the editing process but for various reasons it’s taking a little longer than I would have liked, although one consolation is that the first draft turned out to be not nearly as bad as it seemed while I was writing it! I promise to get back to it just as soon as I’ve finished this blog post.

Diary 2014
Trains everywhere

In the mean-time, a few words about something else I’ve been working on, and about my apparent obsession with trains.

Some time last year, when I was working on ‘Blackberry Crumble’ for the first ‘Off the KUF’ anthology, it was announced that vol. 3 of ‘Off the KUF’ would consist of a number of novellas [I think the word count of a novella ranges from 15,000 to 40,000 words, so somewhere between a very long short story and a very short novel]. Naturally, because I had about a million other things to do and I didn’t have any novellas ready, I decided to try and contribute a novella to this. ‘Adventure on the Scotch Express’ was the result. Following an editing sweep by David, who has edited all the ‘Off the KUF’ stories and who is probably even now lying in a darkened room somewhere as a result, and a bit of re-writing of a fuzzy bit in the middle by me, this is now finished and is due to appear in February as part of the latest anthology.

I don’t think I would even have embarked on this piece of writing if I had known how much research into train carriages, train timetables, stations and ticket prices I had to do, some of it online and some in the National Railway Museum in York. However, I did have quite a good grounding on the topic of trains, partly because we used to live at one end of the Tay Rail Bridge when I was growing up, and we saw all sort of famous engines going past the window and indeed almost witnessed a train crash in the local station on one occasion. Without giving away the plot, much of the action in my story takes place on the ‘Scotch Express’ which was the precursor of the Flying Scotsman, with some scenes of the 1909 suffragette march in Edinburgh. I hope to write a bit more here later about the suffragette aspect of it.

Coincidentally I had also had to carry out some train research earlier in 2013, although in not quite so much detail, for ‘The Four Seasons Quest’ which involves a lot of travelling, as anyone who has read it will know. This research didn’t go into quite as much detail as I was more concerned with whether you could actually get from one place to another by train in 1952 and how long it would take, than I was with what the layout of the coaches was and whether there was a guard’s van.

Because of the way my mind works, no sooner had I not quite finished ‘Adventure on the Scotch Express’ and while I was still in mid-edit for ‘A Tasteful Crime’, I had an idea for a prequel to the Scotch Express story. Much to my surprise, as the idea certainly didn’t involve trains at first, for the past couple of evenings I’ve found myself compelled to scour the internet looking for information about the history of Balgreen Halt, a tiny station in the west of Edinburgh that no longer exists but apparently, according to online sources, is about to be sort of resurrected as a tram stop. It’s quite amazing how much time I have wasted  spent on this. You would almost think I didn’t like editing my novels, or something!


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