Where did the idea come from?

Ideas for stories come from many sources, sometimes at unexpected times. In this case, the source was a song, and the unexpected time was in the shower.
That’s right. I sing in the shower. In this case, I was singing a song that had been stuck in my head for about a week—The City of New Orleans. I couldn’t remember all the words, but the phrases that did come to me were all snippets about characters that I found interesting, and that made me want to write the story where they lived So I did! If you listen to the song while reading the book, I think you might notice some of the same characters lurking in the background of both.

Listen the the Song here.

Why set a story on a train?

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I’ve always loved trains. There is something irresistible about going on a journey on one. But more than that, I love a challenge, and setting a story in a limited, closed setting posed one I couldn’t resist.

One of the great things about setting the story aboard the train was that the setting shifts through the story. As the train moves north, Bobby Lee sees a variety of different places, and different people out the windows and on the train. And rules about people change too, from South to North in the era of Jim Crow, prohibition, and jazz music. That made the setting even more fun to write.

How did you research the story?

All stories require research. Fortunately for me, this story is set on one of America’s most important railways that has a long and glorious history. So I found many wonderful resources, from hand-colored postcards of train stations and towns, to old photographs, to oral histories and time tables, I was able to reconstruct much of Bobby Lee’s route. The most interesting question I had to research? What were toilets on trains like in 1923. The hardest thing to find information on? Orphanages and poor houses in New Orleans. What was most fun? Learning colorful expressions in Acadian French from a few Canadian friends (the Acadian dialect is spoken by Cajuns and by some French Canadians.)
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Who created the cover art?

Once again, I have been blessed by a beautiful cover on my book! This time, the illustrator is a man named Oriol Vidal, and he lives in Barcelona, Spain. He did a great job of capturing the character, the era, and the story, don’t you think?