I do most of my writing in my home office and it’s huge, about 8 metres by 5. I didn’t always have one this big, but when we moved into our new house last year, we built on my dream office. The spacious feeling in it seems to encourage my imagination to fly freely.
When we had a dog, she used to sneak into my office of that time and try to sleep under the main desk. I always felt she could sense how happy I was there.
My office contains five desks (mostly untidy) and two computers, one of which never goes on the internet. That doesn’t just provide cyber-security for my current story, but also gives me a backup computer in case of breakdowns. I am addicted to writing and couldn’t manage without my main tool.
Since I work up to 10 hours a day, I use desktop computers and top quality office chairs. I consulted an occupational therapist when I got my first proper home office, and have stuck to the rules she gave me for safe typing and working ever since. My computers have ergonomic keyboards and mouses, which I find extremely comfortable to use. I can touch type as quickly as I can ‘see’ what’s happening to my characters. But I take care to move about the house every hour and stretch regularly.
My office also contains my reference library at one end, about five linear metres of bookcases, because I write historical stories as well as modern ones. I know you can do a lot of research on the Internet, but I have old books long out of print that are not online because they were produced in the age I’m writing about. I also collect ‘amateur’ biographies and autobiographies, many badly produced with limp paper covers. But oh, the voices of those who wrote them ring out clearly and they were there while historians, like me, can only try to learn what it was like.
I’m in the middle of writing a new series set in the UK just after WW2, and for this research I also use my own and my husband’s childhood memories of that time and my aunt’s memories. She’s about to turn 90 and served as a Wren during the war. I also have my mother’s all-too-brief memoirs of what it was like for her and her family.
The first book A Time to Remember set in 1945 has just been published. It’s called a ‘historical’ story, but that era doesn’t feel historical to me. I can still remember the day my father came home from serving in the Middle East for four years. I had never met him before and he hadn’t seen me since I was a baby. When he arrived during the night, I didn’t appreciate being woken, so I stuck out my tongue at him. He and I often laughed about that.
The other main thing about my office is that I need to be alone to write. I ‘spin moonbeams’ to create a story and I feel as if I’m in a real place with real people. I couldn’t keep up that illusion if there were other people in the room, or music playing.
A Time to Remember by Anna Jacobs is out now.