As a reader, I’ve always been really interested in the ‘behind the scenes’ side of writing. I always wondered where the words which came to life from the page originated. During interviews for my Guilty Conscience site, I’ve always asked: writers the same two questions: What’s you perfect writing environment? And what is your actual one like? What I’ve learnt is that whilst some have nice writing spaces, offices and desks, others are happy to perch their laptops on their knees in the living room, and create stories. Here I’ve asked five fascinating authors to invite us into their writing studies.
Les Edgerton – Les is an American writer of crime novels, short stories, and literary fiction. His latest novel, The Bitch, is garnering rave reviews from both sides of the Atlantic. He is famed for his realistic portrayals of criminal life, something which is lent weight by the fact he is an reformed criminal himself. “My ‘formal’ writing space is a former bedroom next to my wife’s and my bedroom, which we fondly and accurately refer to as ‘The Scene of the Crime’,” explains Les. “The lone window looks out the front of the house at the street, which is interesting sometimes, but mostly not. Mostly yammering kids at play. On the windowsill is my most important tool – my ashtray. It’s an extremely cluttered room. I use a laptop, perched on a small desk that’s cluttered with papers, coffee cups, and pens. There is a large, overflowing bookcase to my right and two more in line with it, extending to the door at my rear. Behind me, is another, stand-alone bookcase. All four are overflowing with books. If the producers of Hoarders ever found out about me, I’d be on TV. Books are everywhere in our house, not just in my writing room. This is where I do my typing. Where I do the mental part of writing is across the hall in the bathroom where I sit perched on my throne with either a book or my Kindle in hand.”
Helen FitzGerald – Helen is the author of crime fiction and young adult fiction. Her latest novel, The Donor, was runner up in my Top five books of 2011 feature. An incredible story, it really is a must-read. She is recently celebrating the announcement that her novel The Devil’s Staircase is to be adapted for film by Sergio Casci. In her words, “My office is on the first floor of our 1920s red sandstone terrace in Glasgow. I moved into this room from the attic because my daughter refused to sleep in it, insisting it was haunted. I’d just like to thank the ghost for the manic writing energy she – Carol-Ann, apparently – has given me since moving here.”
Claire McGowan – Claire has just celebrated the release of her debut novel The Fall, a character-based crime novel – watch for the review soon here on CFL. A new name to the genre, the signs are there that she is destined for grea tthings. “I write at the kitchen table,” she says. “I like plenty of space to spread out all my scribbled bits of paper with ideas on them. My dog – Eddie the beagle – is also in the picture, wondering if he can jump on the chair. As I’m typing this, I have him on my lap and his head on my mouse hand. This is quite sweet but makes it almost impossible to do any work. Because of the dog, I also wear really horrible clothes to write in, which get covered in hair and drool. His, not mine…mostly. Truly, writing is a glamorous business.”
Howard Linskey – Howard’s debut novel The Drop was one of the top reads of 2011 according to The Times. Originally from Newcastle, he has gained many fans for his excellent portrayal of the North East’s seedy underbelly of crime. “I write straight onto a laptop. Life’s too short to write long-hand then transcribe it all onto a computer screen like I used to,” he says. “I have a desk by a window in a ground floor room of my house. I’ve done a lot of writing there but I have probably written just as many words sitting on the sofa, laptop perched on my knee, while family members watch TV in the background. I get used to writing wherever and whenever I can – coffee bars and even pubs – if I can find a quiet corner away from everyone. I play five-a-side football and if I arrive with 20 minutes to spare before kick-off, I’ll sit in my car and write. The words might be rough, need editing and may even be discarded at the eleventh hour during the final edit, but as I nail down another chapter involving my gangsters, bent coppers and assorted Geordie low-lifes, I know that if I just keep going, one day there will be a finished novel with my name on it. I completed the latest one last night in fact, and I can tell you it’s a damned nice feeling.”
Nick Quantrill – The Hull native released his debut novel Broken Dreams last year to rave reviews. The sequel will be released officially next month and is entitled The Late Greats. He’s also a prolific short fiction writer with stories in Off The Record, Radgepacket 6, and most prestigious of all The Mammoth Book of Crime 9. While this work has appeared alongside that of the some of the greatest names in crime fiction, his writing area is a little less auspicious. He says: “Please note the television and toys littering the area. A study is for wimps, balancing a laptop in a chair in the front room is where it’s at…”