A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Writing in cafes? I don’t. There. End of story.
Actually it’s not, because I did once spend quite a while writing in a hospital café over the course of a few weeks, while waiting for my child’s medical appointments to end. And it proved much more conducive to writing than I’d feared. I could concentrate over the clink of cups, the scrape of chairs, the constant hum of chatter. I’m not sure it was even in a café during much of that time. Its walls with their bright paintwork became the dank walls of a medieval castle, the smell of fresh coffee transformed into the smell of sweat and blood, the clatter of cutlery became the clash of steel on steel as long-dead armies fought once more. Horses reared around my table, as storm winds whirled past the ‘EXIT’ sign. The glare of overhead strip lights faded and died, to be replaced by a single guttering candle. Grass grew at my feet.
But did those few weeks in a café produce a masterpiece? Er, well, um…moving swiftly on…
So I’m perhaps not best qualified to write about writing in cafes. Here, though, is a poem about a café that I would love to go to. If only it existed…
At the Writers’ Café
Pour me out a cup of words,
All nice and fresh and hot.
Add a splash of character,
A spoon or two of plot.
Flavour it with settings,
Fill emotion to the brim,
And place a dozen cliff-hangers
All dangling from the rim.
Garnish it with plot twists
And then brew it for an age.
Stir it round for quite a while,
Then spill it on the page.
I know it seems quite messy,
But that’s just the writer’s craft.
Now can you pour an edit?
I would love another draft.
At the age of four Elli wrote her first picture book, involving her best friend, a tricycle accident, blood everywhere, and the author emerging as the hero. Several years later she completed an MA in social anthropology, moved out to Thailand, taught herself the language, and has since worked variously as a Thai to English translator, a copywriter for a domestic appliance insurance firm (about as interesting as it sounds) and an assistant editor in academic publishing. She now lives in London where she combines writing with freelance translation work, looking after her four children, butchering nice music on the piano and being dictated to by her deranged cat.