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A View from the Track Up

February 13, 2014

J.P. Kenna

A major physical challenge in maintaining railroad track is that just about everything being worked on is less than a foot off the ground. A little like farm labor in that respect. After much of a lifetime of blue-collar jobs, launching into writing historical novels from a working-class point of view is a reversal from that direction. Most blue collar jobs are dirty and/or noisy and/or physically laborious. Add to that–monotonous, and generally looked upon with disdain by those who have titles and don’t soil their hands. So the challenge is to look up from track level, but to remain grounded in what you know and have done. Then mix in human drama and (where appropriate) historical reference. Then upwardly seek a touch of the poetic. Or heroic.

But a trap awaits–that is, to overly romanticize the lives lived and toil performed back in times becoming ever more remote. The…

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