One day while I was away in place we holidayed with the children when they were small, we came to a level crossing and the barrier went down to say there was a train coming. For one moment I felt the rising excitement I had as a child.
Dad used to let us get out of the car and stand by the gates waiting for the train to pass. The mounting anticipation as we heard it approaching was so exciting. The smell of the steam as the chug-chug-chug that got louder and louder. It was an absolutely thrill when the train went past. It was always huge and loud, and apart from covering us in smoke, it made all sorts of noises as it trundled by.
The carriages all and a corridor and there were compartments all the way along. When we were teenagers and we caught the train, if it was empty we used to think it was fun to travel in the luggage rack above the seats. They were made of strong rope that looked a bit like a hammock. It was so much fun!
In The Magic of Stories, which is launching this week, I include two fictional stories that came from these early memories of trains.
Joanna’s Journey is my novel set in the 80s because that was when the original idea came to me. A a girl got on a train to London and as it was full the porter took her to the first class carriages. Inside was a handsome guy who didn’t want company but then felt obliged to share. There begins a three hour journey where strangers reluctantly get to know one another.
The first story in the book is called Stranger on a Train, and it was taken from the premise of Joanna’s Journey and written at a time when I loved having a twist in the tail kind of story.
In this one Jenny meets Nino in a similar way to Joanna. She then goes on to have an affair with a rising rock star, same again as Joanna but this is not what you expect.