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Early morning train to success

Saltburn writer and performer Carmen Thompson tells us how she made the most of the early morning commute to Durham on the train and wrote her first novel. 

Carmen Thompson

Carmen Thompson


Why did you decide to write the manuscript on the train?

I noticed that I am at my most creative first thing in the morning and I had good hour on the train to myself each day. No distractions, just the right amount of time, the right level of background noise – the perfect conditions for me to write. All I needed was my notebook and my imagination. 

How did you use the time?

I already had the structure of my story so I just had to put the meat on the bones. I took inspiration from all around me – the changing seasons, the quiet conversations between other people, the early morning wildlife, spring lambs and first daffodils. It all gave me ideas to mull over.

Sun Rise

Sun Rise

You feel very connected to the environment when you can see it all happening in front of you. Like with the floods, the fields turned into lakes and what looked like bushes were actually just tops of trees above the water line. It was a rare sight and I feel privileged to have seen it.


Where do you write now that you’ve changed your job?

I write from home now but I miss my time on the train. Sometimes I think I should buy a ticket to a distant destination just to give myself the space to write.

It sounds like you really enjoyed your time on the 07.25 to Durham…

It felt like a special time to be out in the world and I think other people on the train felt the same way too. It was like a shared secret between us all, that no-one else got to see. There’s a quiet respect for other people’s space and solitude, as if we all knew we needed it. But if anything went wrong, then we were all in it together too.  We had solitude when we needed it and a community when we needed it. The best of both worlds!

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