The Publishing Post
Searching for the Next Journey: Train by Angela Kecojevic
By Jill Çakmak
In a small town called Milton, Nerys, now named Flint, and her best friend Jester try to survive and adapt to the new situation of dead earth. After the day of the vanished, where many people disappeared, families were split apart. Flint and Jester, now growing together like a family, are some of the remaining villagers trying to survive in the cold. The ticketmaster, part of an unknown organisation, chooses Flint unexpectedly to receive a ticket for a mysterious train. Flint is sure that whatever awaits her at the end of the journey trip will answer the questions everyone has. Regardless of the jealousy of the other town members, Flint starts her journey with a clear mind. She embodies her name, being strong and emotionally distant, and takes the only chance that has been given since the world turned dark.
Imagining how our world would look if it became an iceball is frightening and fascinating at the same time. Angela Kecojevic underlines modern issues of climate change and the importance of mother earth. Flint and Jester needed to go back to the roots of survival: warmth, running water and electricity being a luxury. The story is beautifully written and not your typical sci-fi novel about trying to save the world. Inspired by the Jules Verne classic novel Journey to the Centre of Earth with a modern twist, Train is a must read for fans of dystopian novels.
An Interview with Angela Kecojevic
What were your inspirations for the novel’s setting and plot?
I have long been fascinated by the fantasy world that could exist beneath our feet. So many science fiction novels focus on space and the world above us. The Jules Verne classic novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth was thrilling and exciting. Verne explored the theory of a hollow earth, an idea that has always fascinated me. I remember writing the opening for Train. “A girl. A platform. A mysterious train. A ticket to nowhere.” Where could her journey take her? I wanted to highlight what would happen if we didn’t take better care of our planet; I wanted to highlight the youth of today working together to “fix” things. I remembered Verne and the way his work inspired me. The centre of the Earth suddenly seemed like the perfect destination!
Did you intend, when writing, for the novel to support and encourage the younger generation in rethinking their relationship with the earth?
In the past few years, climate issues have featured more than ever in novels. Hugely successful books such as Divergent and The Hunger Games were all set in post-apocalyptic worlds. I guess these can also be deemed as climate fiction novels. This is fantastic progress. Today’s youth care more than ever about the planet and the environment. They will be the ones to change bad habits; they will be the ones to help Earth get back on track again. Reaching out to readers this way, especially young people, will hopefully encourage them to act more on behalf of the planet.
What inspired you to represent the earth as a snowball, instead of the typical fireball usually used to represent the consequences of climate change?
Frozen versus fireball. Both were considered suitable “settings” for Train. Earth, in reality, is obviously heating up. However, there are places around the world that are extremely cold. Scientists believe these to be trapped pockets of exceptionally cold air. I wanted my characters to journey to the centre of the Earth, something they realistically couldn’t do if it was a ball of fire! A frozen planet would allow me to bring in Greyfurs, to allow my characters to ice climb and abseil. A frozen planet could thaw with the right help.
The story is not finished yet. Do you have plans to share more of the world and the characters?
Without giving away too many spoilers, I wanted the first book in the series to end with the passengers completing only the first leg of the journey. They were given a strong reason to undertake such a mission into the centre of the Earth; they were given a strong reason to return to Earth’s surface. This involves fighting against the ECS, fighting a different war, one that involves scientists rather than Earth. Earth Station (book two) follows on with the discovery of what Flint and her fellow passengers discover at Earth’s core, and whether they make it out alive. Station X (book three) will bring the story to a close.
Do you think Flint and Nerys can simply co-exist, or will it always be an emotional battle?
Flint and Nerys are so at odds with one another, and yet, as the story progresses, Flint slowly realises that there is space in her life for both. Without sounding too preachy, I believe this is a powerful message for any individual. We can be firm but kind. We can fight for what we believe in and yet do it the right way. It takes Flint a while to see this, but slowly, as she learns to care about the new passengers in her life, she lets her emotions back in. I believe she will find the right balance and learn to let Nerys be free again.