Book Conceived in the Parlour Car.
My part in my latest book project is just about done. The manuscript is 99-percent finished and all that remains will be a final read-through looking for anything that needs tweaking. And, since my editor is far more skilled in that area than I, there will be little if anything of consequence for me to do.
The working title of the book is “Fascinating Facts about Hawaii” and, believe it or not, the idea was born in one of the Pacific Parlour Cars that were part of the Amtrak’s Coast Starlight’s consist for many years. [Damn! I really miss them!] Anyway, I was traveling from Davis, California, down to L.A and struck up a conversation with a retired couple who were on their way to see a brand-new granddaughter in San Diego.
They lived in Dunsmuir, Californian, and early in our get-acquainted chat, the woman mentioned that she owned a horse. Our conversation took off at that point, of course, because my wife and I had bought her horse at a wonderful auction held every year in Red Bluff, which is in Northern California just about 90 miles from Dunsmuir.
At any rate, neither she nor her husband had any idea that there is a ranching tradition in Hawaii that goes back almost to the 1850s. That led me to tell the committee about Ikua Purdy, a paniolo (cowboy) from the Big Island who won first prize for bull riding in the 1908 Cheyenne, Wyoming rodeo. According to letters written home and write-ups in the Cheyenne newspapers, Purdy’s performance left the Wyoming cowboys with their mouths hanging open.
It was right about that point in the conversation that the woman leaned forward in one of those wonderful over-stuffed swiveling arm chairs and said, “If you’ve got more of those fascinating facts about Hawaii, you should write them down.”
That planted the seed and two days later when I got home and told my wife about the encounter, Paula said, “You should write them down. It could be a book.”
And so it is, thanks to the lady from Dunsmuir and my much better half. And it all started with a very nice conversation in one of those wonderful parlour cars.