Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Writing Room Revelations - Part Two

Following on last week’s post about the mysteries of where authors like to write and think, here is the next in the series of Writing Room Revelations.

As you may recall, the questions posed to each author were:

1. Where do you write? And what does your writing space give you – i.e. why do you write there?
2. Where do you do your most creative thinking – and when? (e.g. particular time of day, conscious space e.g. dreams)
3. Do you use/need anything particular in order to help you write? (e.g. music, chocolate, coffee, silence etc) In what way does this “support” help you?


KATHERINE LANGRISH
Award winning author of the Troll Trilogy, Dark Angels, and the soon to be published Forsaken.

On writing:
Well, I should /like /to write in a small, but perfectly appointed library with views through a casement window (with leaded panes) of a small lake with hills behind it. In fact, though, I write in our spare bedroom, which is about 8 feet by 6, with a view of the house across the street. But after all the view doesn't really matter, as I generally pull the curtain across in order to see the screen of my laptop. There isn't anything like enough room for all the books, so they sit in teetering piles which fall over from time to time, and the walls are covered in maps of wherever
it happens to be that I'm currently writing about. The best thing about the room? It has a door, which I can shut.

On thinking:
My most creative thinking is often done while driving the car, walking the dog, or in the moments before I fall asleep or just as I wake up.


Katherine Langrish's writing space

On support:
I don't need any particular props to help me write (other than about a million reference books). Just silence, and if possible, no one in the house.

You can find out more about Katherine Langrish and her books on her website or on her blog.


PAT WALSH
Award nominated author of the Crowfield Curse and the Crowfield Demon

On writing:
If I'm at home, I write in my study, but I like to take a notebook and head out to one of several coffee shops most mornings, where I can happily write for an hour or two. The staff in these places know me now and are happy to let me get on with it. I like to be around people for part of my writing day, and being away from my PC means I'm not going to be distracted by Facebook/emails etc.

On thinking:
I do my most creative writing in the mornings. I can't write to save my life in the afternoons, but I get back into my stride in the evening. I do my creative thinking when I'm out and about, doing other things. Thoughts and ideas are constantly buzzing away at the back of my mind. I always carry a notebook with me wherever I go and jot things down as I go along. Funnily enough, I never dream about whatever I'm writing, and I don't think I've ever been inspired by a dream. I find places inspire me and often spark ideas for stories.

On support:
I need music - preferably on the radio. I'm usually not aware of what I'm listening to, but the sound of voices is a companionable hum in the background. And a constant supply of tea or coffee. To keep my caffeine levels down, I drink a lot of herb and fruit teas. When I'm writing by hand, I have to use a note book with either plain or squared paper. I'll use narrow ruled lined paper at a push - but wide spaced lines are a definite no-go!

You can find out more about Pat Walsh on her website.
And you can read my interview with Pat here.


CHRIS PRIESTLEY
Award winning author of Redwulf’s Curse, Death and the Arrow, the Tales of Terror series, and the Dead of Winter, amongst others.

On writing:
I write in the smallest bedroom of a Victorian terraced house that we rent in Cambridge. The office gives me nothing at all and I can think of little positive to say about it other than it is fairly quiet. But it has no atmosphere at all. I write here because I have nowhere else apart from a studio that I rent to do my art stuff. That one has the benefit of being away from the house, but it is noisier and I share with a couple of other people. My dream is to buy a house here and build an office/studio in the garden.

On thinking:
I pretty much always fall asleep thinking about stories and often panic that I will forget whatever it is I've come up with. I carry notebooks around and scribble away in coffee bars and trains. It's one of the bits of the writing process I really enjoy. But it's fair to say that if I am conscious, I'm often writing in my head. I work at the computer and have a notice board with photos of things to do with whatever book I'm working on. At the moment it is filled with pictures of Amsterdam and paintings from the Dutch Golden Age - the setting for my new book, The Mask.

On support:
I have to have coffee in the morning to jump start my brain. I always like the idea of music when I work, but the fact is, if I really need to concentrate, I need silence. I can't say that I strictly speaking need chocolate, but it wouldn't hinder me in any way. In the end it doesn't really matter where I am or what's happening around me so much as long as I can hear my own voice clearly inside my head.

You can find out more about Chris Priestley on his blog.
And you can read my interview with Chris here.


MIRIAM HALAHMY
Award nominated author of Hidden

On writing:
I started writing in coffee bars as a student in the 1970s. I was influenced by reading about the Paris cafe life of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre. I lived in Paris for nearly a year after college and loved writing in all the different bars around the Latin Quarter, Montmartre and the Marais. This love of writing in coffee bars has continued to the present day. I have written all three of the novels in my Hayling cycle at the same table in Costa Coffee in Golders Green. I presented my barista, Maria, with a copy of HIDDEN, last month and she was delighted. I go to Costa early in the morning when it is almost empty and there is just the hiss of the steam from the machines and usually some gentle jazz on the stereo. I like the early morning walk, even in the snow, getting the creative juices going. I eat an egg sandwich with my small Americano (hot milk on the side) and then I'm fired up and all set to go. Once I enter the world of my book, the external noises fade and I never seem to notice the crowd building up mid-morning and then slowing down until the lunchtime rush. I like the buzz around me and there is always something to look at when I need to take a break. I have a lovely study at the back of the house my husband built me and I work there in the afternoon, editing and redrafting. But my corner in Costa is my favourite place to write and lots of people tell me I've prompted them to go and write in coffee bars.

On thinking:
There is no particular place or time where I do my most creative thinking, rather it is the coming together of a particularly pensive mood, a thought which has risen to the surface and needs time to develop, a physical feeling of almost being outside my own body. My mind takes over and occupies space, making links and connections which may have been a long time developing and coming to fruition. There is something almost magical about this process as I step outside normal time and space and words form and move around me. I don't always record the thoughts, I just let them roll on. I know that if the thread is strong enough them it will stay in my mind and I will be able to recall it and write it down when I am ready. These are very precious times in my writing life and I treasure them.

On support:
I have to be warm and my chair has to be upright but comfortable. I need a steady, clean, flat surface to write on. Apart from my laptop, USB stick and mouse, I put various other items on my table - mobile phone, notebook, pen, diary,watch, glass of water, Polo mints. My objects need to be arranged neatly with edges straight. Coffee gets the adrenalin going and I like to eat something every hour, partly to give my brain a break and partly to renew my energy. I don't like loud music or strong ballads with familiar words. I have been know to ask them to turn the music down in coffee bars. But ultimately, all I need to write is a pen and a notebook. If everything else disappeared I would sit on the floor and write in my notebook.

You can find out more about Miriam Halahmy on her website or on her blog.
You can also become a fan on Miriam's Facebook page.

11 comments:

Penny Dolan said...

Enjoying this strand and the glimses offered, Nicky!

kathryn evans said...

What a great series Nicky - lovely to have an insight into writers lives :O)

Candy Gourlay said...

very enjoyable series! thank you!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

This was a great insight into these authors' lives. It's interesting to learn where people write and how they get their inspiration. I have to say, I'm quite similar to Katherine Langrish in that I use a bedroom which I turned into an office, have maps and drawings all over my wall. I don't have a view of any houses though because we live in the middle of nowhere, just fields and sheep!!

CJ xx

Sue Guiney said...

Ooh, these are great. I just love them. Please, may we have some more? xo

Beverley said...

These interviews are a great idea, Nicky. Thanks for posting. I usually write in my study, but with all the workmen hammering and drilling lately, I'm very tempted to give a coffee shop a go.

Stroppy Author said...

This is so good for nosy people like me! Loving it - and seeing others in advance of you posting mine is nice, too.

Sue Hyams said...

Really enjoying these!

Pen Kease said...

This is a really interesting thread Nicky... Hmmm.... its getting me thinking about how I do my own writing. Not that I'm at all worthy of inclusion of course!

Baino said...

So many hints and tips. I just wish I had more TIME. I need to sit, and contemplate my navel and put words to paper. Great to see how others create their mood and writing caves.

Savita Kalhan said...

This series is such a great idea, Nicky! Really enjoying reading how other writers work.