I'm so excited! As you know, I have been selected as one of the 24 finalists to take a ride on the Amtrak train as part of the Amtrak Residency, a wonderful that's been born on Twitter from a couple writers asking Amtrak about the possibility of such a thing. So, a few writers have already completed their adventures. First was Bill Willingham (read about his trip here), next was Jennifer Boylan (read about her trip here), and after that Marianne Kirby (her adventures here). I'm not sure who is next, but I'm going in March, and here is my itinerary:
Depart SEA – CHI on March 16 on train 8 Empire Builder (arrive in CHI on March 18)
Depart CHI – LAX on March 20 on train 421 Texas Eagle(arrive in LAX on March 23)
Depart LAX – CHI on March 25 on train 422 Texas Eagle(arrive in CHI on March 28)
Depart CHI – SEA on March 29 on train 7 Empire Builder (arrive in SEA on March 31)
Why March? Well, I had to fit it into my writing schedule. CORNERS should be done just before I go, and on the train I plan to complete the 1st draft of TUBE: TRANS URBAN BLITZ EXPRESS (you can pre-order it now!), a novel about, naturally, Bolshoi Theatre ballerinas going on a US tour on a train, and, naturally, being eaten by said train...one...after...another. Scary! Bloody! Beautiful! Yes, it will be beautiful, and painful. I have the set of characters already sketched out, and here is the beginning, or, rather, a sketch, of the opening:
"She heard it breathe. The train. She could've sworn it took a slow inhale. Her toes pulsed, reminding her that they hurt from practice. She cast a quick glance around the roomette and continued unwrapping her pointe shoe. The other one already lay sprawled on the carpet like a squished moth. “Bleeding again,” she sighed, carefully peeled the cloth off her toes and threw the stained shoe next to the first one. The carpet seemed to sniff it."
The main character, Olesya, will be very much unlike my other strong-willed girls. She will be soft and dreamy and quiet. It's the side of me I haven't explored yet and I'm bloody excited to tackle it, I'm practically bursting from thrill and suspense!!!
Anyway. I will be blogging my way through the trip, and I have no idea what I will do in Chicago, so if any of you have good suggestions, please tell me. Also, someone have a couch in Chicago? I need to crash at someone's house for 2 nights. Amtrak hasn't had a good week. From the latest news, a man stabbed 4 people on an Amtrak train, the one I will be taking. A van got hit by an Amtrak train, with 3 people dead. And a pedestrian died from a collision. All this tragedy I will attempt to write into the book, fueled, of course, by the famous scene from Anna Karenina. And trains. I grew up on trains, and one of my abuse episodes happened on the train, in the space between cars, that cold narrow constantly shifting gangway with two juddering metal lips protruding from each car, overlapping just enough to provide standing space, the ground speeding under. I was five, and I was terrified out of my mind. So, some personal horrors will go into this story, and, of course, my live observations of actually writing while riding the train, which is amazing. It's like being on a movie set before the screenplay was even written.
Well then, get ready.