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Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Train as a Character

As many fiction writers -- and readers -- will tell you, the setting of a story can sometimes be the most essential part. In fact, the time, place, tone, and feel of a work is often crucial. A good example of this is my own novel in stories, Tracks.

Tracks takes place on the Amtrak’s Cardinal line, traveling from Baltimore to Chicago. In some ways, the train itself is the most important character of the novel, linking the stories like passenger cars. Each stand-alone story in the novel is that of a passenger on the train. Without the train, the stories would fall apart and there would be no engine to haul them along.

It’s true that the train plays a more vital role in some stories than others. In some stories featured in Tracks, one could even forget for pages at a time that the main character is on a train, a majority of the action taking place in flashbacks and future visions. Many regular train travelers will tell you, after all, that sometimes a train ride can conjure up memories or dreams that take you out of the present moment.

For other stories in Tracks, the action and climax actually take place on the moving train.

The cities linked by this train ride -- Baltimore and Chicago -- are also important to some of the characters. Some stories could not exist without being anchored in Baltimore’s inner harbor or without the lure of the windy city’s Millennium Park.

Even the cadence of the writing in Tracks matches that of a train, a steady rhythm intended to pull the reader along. In fact, I imagine that Tracks would make great train reading. If you take the train, perhaps this is the book to bring along.

To learn more about Tracks, visit the novel’s station at http://www.train-tracks.blogspot.com.

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