Tamara Lush Rides the Rails

Tell Me a Secret by Tamara LushThere's something awfully romantic about journeying by train — the big windows, the potential intrigue — the bar car. There's even an Amtrak residency program, where authors ride the rails and write. We fell in love with the idea, so when we heard erotica author Tamara Lush, whose Tell Me a Fantasy is out now, was chosen for the program, we wanted to hear more! Tamara indulged our curiosity by writing this piece about her journey. Take it away, Tamara!

Being an erotic romance writer, my mind immediately went into the gutter as soon as I slipped between the sheets of the bed on the train’s sleeper car as we glided through the Carolinas.

Would a hot train trip eventually make its way into a scene in one of my books? Perhaps I’d write that short literary erotica piece I’d been thinking of, and set the tryst between two people on a train. A foxy stranger in a bar car, a furtive smile, an offer of a drink?


I’d been chosen as one of 24 Amtrak Residency writers to ride the rails. Although actual sexytimes were not on the schedule of my two-week journey — I’m married and my husband was back at home in Florida with our dogs — the literary possibilities were endless.

Or were they? That first night on the train in my roomette, I tossed, turned and squirmed for the next few hours on the tiny bed. Like so much in life, reality is vastly different than fiction. The very idea of sex left my mind within moments. The bed was small. The cabin was uncomfortably warm and I was sweating around my hairline. The train’s noises were distracting, and blaring horns woke me from fitful spurts of sleep.

I also couldn’t forget one glaring fact: there was a tiny toilet with a lid in my cabin, and it was about five feet from my head.

As I came to discover over the next two weeks: there’s sexy, and then there’s romantic.

Writing on the train was unabashedly romantic. When we pulled out of New York’s Penn Station, I set my laptop on the fold-down table, poured myself a glass of wine — yes, you can bring your own drinks aboard — and got to work on my manuscript. The rocking of the car, the passing urban scenery, the gentle forward rhythm all lulled me into concentration. I worked the entire way to Chicago.

After a stop in Chicago to visit friends, I boarded the California Zephyr. There, the true romance unfolded. I spent hours in my roomette staring out the window at the Rockies, then at the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains. Occasionally I’d emerge into the observation car and its tall glass windows. The seats were mostly taken and the car was often silent because folks were just as awed by the scenery as I was.

The quiet and the vistas were meditative — perfect for concentrating on writing and moving my own story forward. It was a Jack Kerouac novel come to life: “nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

For vast swaths of the country, there was no cell service and no wi-fi. It was also like this for parts of the Coast Starlight, the stunning trip down California’s ocean, and from Los Angeles to New Orleans.

Let me repeat: no cell phones and no internet. Those two factors alone were possibly the best parts of the entire trip. I wasn’t interrupted by texts, messages, calls from editors or Facebook posts about politics. If I wanted conversation, I had to do it face-to-face with fellow passengers.

At one point in my journey I chatted up a woman, a retiree from California. She had a killer smile and a thick head of silver hair — the kind I’m envious of. When I told her I wrote romance, she perked up.

“Have I got a story for you,” she said.

With a mysterious glint in her eye, she told me about one night on the train. She was seated for dinner with a stranger, a man half her age. He was from Brazil and devastatingly handsome.

“My heart actually fluttered,” the 65-year-old said.

I grinned.

Maybe there was a sexy story on the train after all, just waiting for the grit-free, gilded sheen of fiction.

Before you hop on the train to have your own adventure, why not pick up Tamara's Tell Me a Fantasy? You can grab your own copy here: Amazon | BN.com | iTunes | Kobo. For more sexy stories, why not visit our Everything Erotica page?