about my Writing Room is designed for coaxing. As a space, I’ve filled it with
inspirational objects, things that spur me on to work, while feeding my senses.
A paint-splashed palette hangs on the wall, nabbed from my dad’s studio, as
does the picture he painted to celebrate the publication of my first novel, The Book of Summers, a vivid blue Lake
Balaton scene. My mum’s intricately knitted blankets make for colourful throws.
Graphic novels by The Etherington Brothers (aka my husband and his brother) sit
in my desk-side stack of special books. Postcards and photographs are propped
on every surface, relics from our travels, our winters spent snowboarding in
France, our runaway wedding in Vegas and drive down New Mexico way. A childhood
picture of my sister and I is particularly precious, we’re beneath the apple
tree, squinting into the camera, our Devon thatched cottage in the background.
The scene is filled with sunshine. In my writing, creating a sense of place is
of uppermost importance to me, and I strongly believe that the landscapes of
our personal histories make us who we are.
desk is a reclamation yard find, a 50s style table with splayed legs and a Formica
top. My husband and I carried it home along the pavements of South Bristol. It
cost just £30 and is one of my most beloved possessions. When I left my job in
a marketing agency in order to write full-time, my leaving gift was an
Anglepoise lamp. In autumn 2011, as I launched into my ‘new job’, every time I
clicked on its light I felt the cheers of my work friends spurring me on. My
chair was hauled from a Manchester skip by my dad in the 70s. For years it
served at the dining table in my mum and dad’s cottage, until it was relegated
to the garden shed. It’s been upholstered in cloth we found in a market in
Kigali, Rwanda, last year. It’s hard as a board to sit on, and regularly
aggravates an old snowboarding injury (broken coccyx) but, for me, beauty and
nostalgia trump practicality. When I’m writing I almost always listen to music.
Most of the time it’s albums of my choosing, the same tracks played over and
over as they tap into a mood, but for every other occasion I listen to BBC
Radio 6 Music. One of my highlights of last year was having a short story I
wrote for Book Slam broadcast on Jarvis Cocker’s show, and every morning begins
with Shaun Keaveny. My radio adds to the colour of the room, and at the start
of every day it spurs me into action.
only thing I’d change about the room is the view. When I look out I see a pleasant
but unremarkable row of Victorian terraces, whereas I long for a stretch of sea
or rolling hills or jagged peaks. But if I want a change of scene, I just look
to the page. I fire up my old faithful Mac, and my travelling begins.
new book A Heart Bent Out of Shape is out now.