A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
My workspace is the kitchen table as I haven’t got a study. It is often covered in breakfast debris but I like the clutter and mess, makes it feels less like an office and less imposing.
I find I work best near the kettle, the fridge, the sweet jar that I hide in the larder from the children. I sit near the back door so I can let the dogs out and hear the birds, lambs and other animals in the field depending on the time of year.
Nominally this is my workspace – a tiny corner of our bedroom squeezed between the wardrobe and the window. And yes, the curtains have to be drawn. I can’t write with the curtains open – partly because of the glare on the screen but partly because I spend the whole time looking out of the window.
The chair was painted for my by my mum when I was about 8, which is why it’s got my name on it and lots of pink and blue flowers. And the china lantern on the shelf was made by my dad when I was about 5 or 6. He was a computer programmer but a potter in his spare time. It’s a cow leaning on a gate in a shadowy wood and you put a night light inside it. I think it’s beautiful.
The large cream-spined book on the right is an amazing mocked-up spell book given to me the editor who acquired A Witch in Winter, Sara O’Connor. When she sent over Hodder’s offer letter she packaged it up in this incredible scorched, battered spell book, made to look exactly like the Hroc Grimoire in A Witch in Winter. It blew me away – I think I knew at that point I was going with Hodder come hell or high water!
However in actual fact, the reason I said “nominally” in my first para is because I almost never work there – the desk is too small and my back is packing up, so I tend to work at a larger table in the spare room, or at the kitchen table. I used to do all my writing curled up on the sofa but I knackered my back. Someone – I can’t remember who it was – said writers should spend their first advance cheque on an ergonomic chair. It’s good advice… unfortunately.
My workspace is my chair in the living room! I suppose I should have an office. I had one once but I hated it. It was ‘up there’, away from the children and the hound and the hustle and bustle. So now I have an IKEA rocky chair which also doubles up as a napping, reading, eating and painting chair. I have a coffee table next to me which regularly gets water spilt all over it as it is generally a tad cluttered. It currently houses a book on writing, a novel, 2 notepads for different projects, a pen, my phone, ear-drops (ear infection!), a jotter pad, my glasses case and a glass of water. I have a view of trees through a sunny, south-facing bay window – bliss!
My full time job leaves me with a sadly fragmented workspace, dividing my writing time between my daily commute and my exceedingly comfortable sofa.
The sofa directly faces five of our eight bookcases, which you could say is a constant source of inspiration when the words just won’t come out, the sods.
I find it difficult to write in a noiseless environment, so the TV is usually on with the volume turned low, though I have to leave it on a program I have absolutely no interest in watching.
Fortunately, that’s hilariously easy.
For a long time, I wrote on a TV stand in front of my sofa. This was not comfortable. I recently got a proper desk and it’s been amazing for productivity. I even now have a second monitor, which is equally amazing for editing and writing (and procrastinating). From left to write on the mantelpiece (yes, it’s in front of the fireplace, there’s nowhere else for it in our tiny flat), the ARC and finished copies of Pantomime, some research books, a pantomime card my friend Kim Curran (author of Shift and Control!), my husband’s uni notebooks, some artwork and a sign my father made when he had a sign business, some notebooks and a card from my cousin on the birth of their daughter, some storage tins and another copy of Pantomime hiding out. On the desk we have the laptop, my beloved Taschen books that double as a screen stand, pens, my Livescribe notebook & phone, and my “Geordi & Data in the Morning” mug, which is a mashup of Community and The Next Generation. On the screen, as a little teaser, is the first page of Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime.
This is where I am supposed to work – my light, bright, airy office. As you can see, however my husband is using it as a store room …
This is where I actually work – the dining room, amidst the detritus of life with small children …
I do the majority of my writing in my office upstairs in my house. There’s a view over the back garden, a corner desk, a wall of books and overflow shelf (pictured) and my telescope (pictured) for company. I would love to be able to write in a coffee shop or other public space, but I absolutely need a closed door,peace and my routine.
A scary story
In a messy, messy house there was a messy, messy room; And in the messy, messy room there was a messy, messy desk; And on the messy, messy desk there was a lovely shiny Mac; And on the messy, messy desktop there was … about a decade’s writing. And it wasn’t backed up!
Well, here it is. That chair with the slightly effeminate cushion ties? Mine. The CDs? Mine, I freely confess. The DVD of ‘Let the Right One In’ and ‘Deja Vu’? Guilty as charged. This is my front room. One day, when I’m a proper writer, I’ll have an office and everything just you wait and see!
This is my workspace in the attic room of our flat. It’s nice and snug in cold weather, and way too hot in the summer – but as Edinburgh tends to get more of the former than the latter, that’s not too much of a problem. Things you can see include: stacks of random CDs; pinboards for plotting and story notes; lovely Doctor Who mug, currently sadly bereft of tea; tin of emergency chocolate biscuits; pile of notebooks; reference books on myth and fable; cover rough from my first novel….
I have been lucky enough to work at home for most of my working life, thus always being there as my children were growing up. When mydaughter Lily was born I was forced to give up my work room for the back part of the living room in which I managed surprisingly well despite the surrounding chaos. I now work in a purpose built garden office which I have pretentiously dubbed my Dacha, but as you see it does look a little like one. I draw on one side and write on the other and am surrounded by climbing roses. I share my space with books, pictures, and my Greyhound Gracie.
Here is my workspace. It is in the corner of my bedroom, which is nice and light, if a little small. My friend put up the bookshelves for me, and they are over-full but happy. I occasionally stop writing to play guitar badly to the plant.
I know that lots of people fib about their workspaces. I have done it myself. Illustrators artfully arrange their beautiful materials into a seemingly random carefree scene, and hide their mess. But I am going to be honest for a change, and show you the true untouched chaos that exists not ON my desk but BEHIND it…
I was going to tidy up before I took this photo, and then realised that was cheating. Hence the PeanutButterCups and general mess.
My room is very dark and my desk faces a wall, so I put fairy lights there to keep me cheerful. I also have a signed print in front of me by my artist friend Andy Kehoe: it’s a polar bear in a rainforest, and for anyone who’s read Geek Girl they’ll know why that’s stuck there as daily inspiration.
There’s also the obvious writing basics: coffee, hand cream, water, candles and a notepad that cunningly works as a mouse mat too.
One day I’ll have a view, but at least there are no distractions.
Apart from eating chocolate, obviously.
I’d love to rent a little office in the future for me to write from, but until then I’m stuck at home with my dining table as a desk as there isn’t room for an actual desk anywhere else. As you can see, there is lots of food within arm’s reach, which is a rather important part of my writing process. There’s also a mess of papers consisting of everything from magazines to bank statements to writing notes. To the right of the dining table is a window looking out at the side of my garden – I don’t think I could write anywhere that had a view, or it’d be even easier to procrastinate. I’ve also recently invested in a laptop stand and wireless keyboard, which are making a world of difference to my posture, so that’s highly recommended.
When I moved to my current house, I had all sorts of plans to turn the spare room into a study. But it was cold, and sitting at a desk made my back hurt. So I decamped to the sofa, and have written there ever since! I still dream of having my own writing room, but at least I’m near to the kettle and the biscuit tin in the meantime…