There was a Twitter conversation the other night (I clearly spend far too much time on there – I’ve started a few posts with “So, I was on Twitter and…”) about the spaces people wrote in. Naturally, being nosy, this caught my attention. It’s always fascinating seeing how people arrange their space – be it writing space, kitchen space or living space. It says a lot about them, and about us as humans, because they’re often pretty similar.

Having gone and nosed around Laura Lam and Stephen Aryan‘s, I thought it’s only fair if I put mine up too. (And if you’re interested, you can even take a look at an agent’s desk, too: Juliet Mushens, who represents both Laura and me, has put up a photoblog of her day – including a desk shot…)

I’ve written in a lot of places – mostly because I’ve lived in 3 different houses in the last 2 and a half years, and stayed in a handful of short-term rentals too. This has led to me not being too picky about my writing setup. In our house in London, I used to write at the dining table in our living room. Then we got stuck in the middle of an awful move, which led to me spending a week or so writing the last third of Blood and Feathers sitting in the window of my parents’ Barbican flat, 13 floors up and looking out over Smithfield and towards St Paul’s cathedral. I also wrote a big chunk sitting on the mezzanine floor of the Barbican centre (interestingly, hell in the book is a labyrinthine complex of levels and stairways. It never occurred to me how closely this fits with how most people find navigating the Barbican…)

We then stayed in a few more places before we moved into our Brighton house: a tall, narrow townhouse by the seafront, spread over 5 storeys. I had a teeny study there, but as it had no insulation and was essentially a little box jutting out of the house, with external walls on 3 sides, it got incredibly cold… so I moved down to our basement kitchen, and that old dining table. And the underfloor heating.

Which brings us to here. I’d planned to work (again) in the kitchen – there must be something about the proximity to the kettle and the fridge which appeals to me – but instead, I’ve annexed the not-quite-big-enough-to-be-a-proper-spare-room bedroom…


workspace main desk


This (somewhat dark) photo should give you an idea of my desk. It’s new and tiny and the idea was that I wouldn’t be able to cover the top of it with crap like I used to do my old – much larger – one. As you can see, that plan is working out perfectly.


workspace proofing sofa

The “proofin'” sofa. Technically, it’s our spare bed. The rest of the time, it’s where I read – having dislodged the cat, who likes to lie right across the middle of the thing. Because we’ve not decorated the room since we moved in, most of my pictures are still waiting to be hung up, so they sit along the back of the sofa.

There’s a couple of my friend Vinny Chong’s prints (the face is one of my favourites of his. I have a few. It’s a problem, OK?), a photo of Brighton’s West Pier lit up with lasers and a Jefferson Starship LP that my husband found in a charity shop. (It’s an in-joke and you need to have watched a lot of Supernatural to get it. But they’re horrible, and hard to kill.) Frankly, I hate the cover art but it makes me laugh every time I look at it.


workspace shelves and sofa

My shelves. The narrow ones in the middle are mostly research books, along with some copies of Blood and Feathers, notebooks, playing cards and a tin of Monster Supplies’ Escalating Panic – just in case. If you look carefully, you’ll also see my mother’s teddy bear looking after the graphic novels. Below the printer is Fred. Fred is an antique; part of the anatomy skeleton my father bought while he was in medical school back when they still used real skeletons. I’m told his hand went missing during a medical school drama production – and I think he appeared in the same club’s version of Hamlet. Lucky old Fred.


workspace side of desk


A slightly less gloomy one of the desk (note the super-glamorous black wrist brace there. I’ve had RSI in my left arm for years, and this has been an absolute lifesaver). The grey crate on the floor is my somewhat-erratic filing system. Basically, if I’m working on it in any way, shape or form, it’s in there. The notice board is all sorts of bits and bobs: mostly drawings my little boy has done. I also have a few photos around. And teetering piles of manuscript pages and notebooks. See how that “small desk” thing’s working out for me?


workspace view from desk

The view from the desk. It’s one of the best things about the room: we have a huge beech hedge running alongside the house, and I’ve watched the trees go from completely bare when we moved in to… this. On windy days (like today) the leaves make the most incredible sound. The winged mug was a present from Anne Perry and Jared Shurin – the amazing powerhouse behind Pornokitsch, Pandemonium and The Kitschies. The framed dollar on the windowsill is (and this sounds absurd, but there’s a point. I think.) the first money I ever earned from writing. It was for a story that appeared in a tiny little American magazine, and that was the entire payment. $1. But it meant so much to me that I decided to frame it. It felt important. It still does.

So there you go. Where do you work? What do you have around you, and why? Is there one area of your workspace you like the most? Take photos, tell us about your desk, your kitchen table, your office… wherever it is you do what you do. Tell us about the things there that matter to you, and link it back so we can all see and compare notes!




  1. I usually write on the upstairs couch in front of the TV after 9pm. I can long hand 250-1000 in an hour, depending on how much story juice is brewing. This is the first draft process.
    All subsequent drafts happen downstairs at the computer. Parallel to the TV, no full windows but light from the 6″ by 2′ glass, no noise unless needed. Corner desk but facing away from the corner. It’s been a while since I’ve been in anything but a 1st draft, but I can do 750-2000 blog words in an hour there. Three bookcases full sit behind the computer user. There’s a stereo there if music is needed.
    I work full time so I write part time. I’m 80+ pages into a story and I am just shy of 1000 for a flash fiction piece. Until I need to change, these are the spaces I use and some of what I’ve done with them since the New Year.

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