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Metro Spotlight

Posted on: August 22, 2019

Write On: Passengers Collaborate on Novel

Author Tim Crum holds his first novel

There are many reasons for riding the New Mexico Rail Runner Express: 1) You can sit back and let someone else do the driving; 2) Riding saves vehicle maintenance and gas money, especially when prices soar; 3) You don’t waste time looking for parking spaces near the shops and restaurants close to the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

Finding a writing partner and getting your first novel published may not be high on the list, but it can happen; Tim Crum and Scott Coons are proof of that.

A Chance Meeting

Crum works for the Public Education Department (PED) in its Special Education program. Coons worked for PED in its computer section until the agency outsourced the care and feeding of its computer servers. He now has a job managing servers and computer graphics for KRQE in Albuquerque.

The two had worked together on PED computer issues but never met until one day on the Rail Runner a third colleague, a woman who knew both of them, made an introduction and sat with them during the ride home from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.

With the ice broken, the two started riding together, and along the way Crum eventually admitted he had written a draft of a novel during his Rail Runner commutes and that he was looking for an editor. What intrigued Coons immensely were the science fiction elements of the draft Crum described.

“I have been a science fiction fan my whole life,” Coons says.

He was also raised in a home where reading and writing were highly valued. His father has read roughly 30,000 novels. Coons offered to help Crum with editing, and when he took a look at the manuscript, he found an interesting story that appealed to him, but needed some revision.

Coons’ familiarity with “Chekov’s Gun”, the theory of writing that eliminates most elements that do not serve the plot, led to quite a bit of revision. “It’s not easy,” he says. “There were days when I would start at three in the afternoon and write or rewrite until three in the morning.”

When writing, Coons and Crum would meet in the Rail Runner’s “quiet car”, but moved to other cars when they needed to discuss their progress. “The Quiet Car has a good ambiance,” Crum says, “it’s like a library.”

Can't Escape His Past

The hero in their novel, “New Day”, is Ray Shepard, a retired Navy SEAL who leaves military service for the life of an Alaskan hunting guide. Unfortunately, Shepard’s move to Alaska coincides with the president of Russia planning to rebuild the “Iron Curtain”, and Shepard is called back into service.

“We are really pleased with the outcome,” Crum says, “and we have been asked for a sequel.”

Coons and Crum self-published the work, and held book signings at Barnes & Nobles stores in Albuquerque. “New Day” also is available online from Amazon. It retails for $15.06.    

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