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Murder on Metro-North

A writer has a thrill ride and gets tons of work done.

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By day Jonathan Stone is an advertising copywriter, by night a father of two; but for two hours a day he’s also a commuter on Metro-North. Hitting shelves next week is Breakthrough (St. Martin’s Minotaur), his third thriller written solely during his daily train ride.

How did you begin writing on the train?
If you’ve got infants screaming at home, and clients screaming at work, your only choice is the commuter train.

Any particular route?
I’m on the 8:07 a.m. from New Canaan to Grand Central. I’m on the 5:26 p.m. back out.

Which is better, the morning or evening commute?
The morning’s silent; some commuters apparently get on without actually waking up. The evening’s best on a day when Wall Street’s down—when the traders and brokers are morose.

Ever had any curious commuters get involved?
A guy told me that someone oughtta teach me keyboard technique so I wouldn’t make such a racket. Apparently, I ruined the trip for everybody around me and he stormed out in a huff.

Aren’t you ever tempted just to read the paper?
Generally, I skip the news. You know—I understand that George Bush is the president.

Would your books change if you wrote in a farmhouse upstate?
No more two-page chapters and one-word sentences for sure.They’d lose their urgency. The ticking clock in my thrillers comes from the real-time crunch of getting things down before the train arrives.

Will you be putting down the laptop anytime soon?
No, it’s part of what I’m about now. I can sleep at night; at work, I wear the mantle of responsibility lightly because I have another means of expression.


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