November 30, 2020

News from the Engine Shed – new book

Thanks to those of you who have been asking how I’m getting on with the latest book. I’m pleased to report that I have now finished writing it and I hope that it will be published in February 2021. Time now to start planning some new post COVID adventures.

Whilst I’m not quite ready to reveal the title just yet, I would like to tell you a bit more about it. First of all I must say that I have been incredibly fortunate. I returned from my last trip just two weeks before lockdown kicked off in the UK. I was able to shift from travelling to writing while all went quiet outside my Engine Shed – only the deer and the pheasants to keep me company. But as many have pointed out, when I’m working on a book I’m really living a locked down life anyway…

After writing a lot about travelling from the U.K. to various parts of Asia, I wanted a totally different place to set my adventures in, and the United States gave me that in spades. I originally I thought that I would need three trips to gather the material for my book, but I managed it in two. One would have been enough. But it has been a tough book to write, as I have approached it in a slightly different way from my past work. The chapters include a lot more railroad detail that has needed much research to ensure accuracy, and this has taken time. I have also included a theme beyond life on the rails for the first time – writing about where trains and movies meet on the big screen and looking at their filming locations in real life.

You might find it hard to believe, but this is the first trip I have been on when I knew in advance that there would be a book – so I returned home with several handwritten notebooks. Travelling in an English speaking country, I was able to learn much more about the people I met along the way. You really do meet a cross section of life in the Amtrak dining car, and everyone likes to talk – a lot. This is quite a change to spending a week on a train in Siberia drinking beer with people who I have almost no words in common.

Off the rails I got involved in some interesting adventures. I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of the book, but some were surreal, fun and unimaginable before I arrived. I spent time in cities that many tourists visit, but also a few that seldom see visitors from outside the state. Being able to research the films made in the places I visited was absolutely fascinating. I’m not sure how many films with trains you can think of, but there are actually hundreds. I also included a few of my favourite television shows, and in a couple of cases I got much closer to them in real life than I had planned to.

I’m now very much in love with America and its railroad and hope to return there soon to explore new places. I really hope you will find my story interesting, and that it might even provide inspiration to take your own American railroad adventure once life gets back to some sort of normality. I will be revealing the title of the book and the cover in the New Year – watch this space. If you want to make sure you don’t miss anything, you can register for updates from me at the bottom of my home page. In the meantime I hope that you stay safe and well.

My very best, Matthew

6 Comments on “News from the Engine Shed – new book

Alma Egan
December 19, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Really looking forward to this book. It will be interesting to see the contrast with your Asian journeys

Matthew Woodward
January 21, 2021 at 11:24 am

Thanks Alma – its taken a long time to write!

January 21, 2021 at 9:29 am

I enjoyed all your books and look forward very much to your new one.I just love your sense of humour, the way you describe when observing your fellow travellers and surroundings at just the right detail and length, never being rude. I read every word in your books, when in others I have to skip some pages because they are tedious and boring.
Thank you for providing wonderful reading time and please keep writing.
Maria, from Vienna,Austria.

Matthew Woodward
January 21, 2021 at 11:25 am

Thanks Maria, I hope you enjoy it. I’m really excited about it as it’s a bit different from my previous books – but of course still me on the train..!

December 29, 2021 at 10:48 am

Hello Matthew
Got your book as a Christmas present, and thoroughly enjoyed it (will have to look for your other books, now).

Found this site, and these blog posts really compliment the book.

Quick question: are able to write anything here on the blog about how you planned it, roomette v coach, cost, websites for research, & any other logistical tips if someone was planning to do such a trip from the UK?

Thanks a lot.

Matthew Woodward
December 29, 2021 at 2:39 pm

Hi Andrew – I’m really glad you liked the book. Have you found Seat61 yet? I’m sure it would help you plan. I’m often live on Twitter – @OnTheRails if you had a specific question around my experiences. Best Matthew


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