This book spent a long time in the “percolating” period and even longer in the “not quite ready” period.
But I clearly remember the moment the idea popped into my head. I was sitting with Nancy Rue and other writer friends at a banquet table. We had gathered to celebrate award winners at the Ridgecrest Christian Writer’s Conference, and our pal Alton Gansky was up front reading off names.
I had been trolling the depths of my subconscious for something new to write about. I don’t like repeating myself in books because I get bored too easily, and I wanted to try something really different. I wanted the book to be about people doing something I’d never done.
And there the idea popped into my head: a train trip.
I’d never taken a train trip. I’d been on a train, of course–I think my kindergarten class visited a train once, and I’ve written the train rides at Disney and other locations. But to actually travel on a train . . . the idea intrigued me. Train travel must be more relaxed than plane travel, and surely you had more room. It took longer than plane travel, so perhaps people approached it with a different mindset . . .
That night after Nancy and I got back to our room, I googled Amtrak and found a ten-day train tour through the south, hitting all the major southern coastal towns–Washington DC, Williamsburg, Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine. Furthermore, the train would continue and drop me right back in Tampa, only a few miles from my home.
I called one of my cousins who loves to travel, and we booked the trip together. So I was set–I would take the trip and look for information to fill out the story. So all I really needed was . . . a story. 🙂
Tomorrow: the research