'Rail' life tales from Northern Ireland tracks inspire Emma to write novel
Novelist Emma Heatherington has revealed taking the train from Belfast to Dublin inspired scenes in her latest novel.
The Donaghmore-born writer, whose book The Legacy of Lucy Harte reached the top 10 in the UK Amazon Kindle chart, admits to eavesdropping on conversations when she's travelling on public transport - all in the name of research.
"I do get lots of inspiration and ideas from travelling by bus and train," Emma said.
"In The Legacy of Lucy Harte, the main character Maggie takes the train to Dublin and on the train she uses that time to really think and reflect and write down thoughts - she's making a poignant journey. That's what I love about the train and business travel, that you do have that switch-off time and you can let your mind wander and look out at the world going by or also take inspiration from the conversations that you might overhear and the people that you meet on the train."
Emma made the revelation after Translink appealed for people to tell their public transport stories as part of Bus and Train Week 2017, which celebrates the different people who use public transport and all the reasons why. A series of events and celebrations will be hosted in stations this week involving many different organisations.
Emma's new book packs a major emotional punch with its tale of Maggie O'Hara, whose life was saved as a teenager by an organ donation.
Now aged in her mid-30s and living in Belfast, she finds her world is falling apart. Maggie meets the brother of Lucy Harte, the child whose organ was donated to her, and he gives her Lucy's diary which has a bucket list of all the things she wanted to do in her life - sparking a new journey for Maggie.
The south Armagh stretch of the train route in particular features in the book.
"The train goes through a very picturesque area of the Slieve Gullion mountains. It's quite an iconic location, so I mentioned that, as she passes through there - and, of course, arriving in Connolly station as described in the book," Emma said.
The author added that while she does eavesdrop on the conversations going on around her, none of them have made it into her books verbatim.