My Pretend Workspace and the Desk of Doom

Thanks to a recent twitter conversation, there has been a small flurry of blog posts from writers talking about their writing spaces. So far Lou Morgan, Laura Lam, Andrew Reid and Stephen Aryan have shown us around the rather lovely places where they do the bulk of their writing work – I recommend going and having a look. There is something infinitely pleasing about a creative space, and the things they choose to fill it with.

The truth about my writing space is, I don’t have one. Or, more accurately, I take it with me. I have a (slightly battered) netbook and a (less than sane) number of notebooks, and they all get shoved in my enormous laptop backpack and dragged to a variety of cafes, libraries, and the sorts of pubs that open at 9am. I find it difficult to concentrate at home, you see. I prefer to be in an anonymous space, where the cat/the washing up/the xbox aren’t staring at me in attention-seeking tones of mute accusation (there are things living in the tea cups, Jennifer, and when are you going to finish that eighth playthrough of Mass Effect?). I like being out and about anyway, because strangers can be dead interesting. Anyone who follows my twitter feed knows that you get some fascinating characters in pubs at 9.30 in the morning.

But I do have a writing desk at home, in the tiny yellow room we call the Box Room, and I have written at it – mostly at weekends, when I’m feeling virtuous. Mainly though, it serves as a place of totems and charms, a place that I can exist in and think about stuff. It’s a tip most of the time, as are most places that are connected to me, but I have taken a few pictures of the main features for the curious, and will attempt to explain some of the mess.

nano certificate

 

Pictures are quite important to me. I use a lot of blu-tac. Here you can see my first ever Nanowrimo certificate for the book Bird and Tower, which was back in, I want to say, 2008? Bird and Tower was a children’s fantasy book, a sort of gender-reversed Rapunzel with some genetic engineering thrown in there. My other Nanowrimo certificates are above this one (for Ink for Thieves, Dead Zoo Shuffle and The Snake House I think) and I like to have them up there as a reminder that I am utterly capable of writing 50,000 words in a month. Sometimes you really need reminders like that. Below the certificate you can also see a postcard from my final year at art college – the project was about depicting weird memories from early childhood, and this one was about a boy who remembered feeding a giant slug in his back garden. To the right of that are some postcards from Spirited Away, one of my favourite films ever, and a quote I printed out from George R.R Martin about Fantasy being written in the language of dreams. You know the one.

the boys

I like action figures. And video games. These guys are some of my favourite characters, and when I’m struggling with something I like to ask, “What would Marcus Fenix do?” Well, blow the fucking shit out of everything, obviously. From left to right we have Thane from Mass Effect 2, Duncan from Dragon Age, Garrus from Mass Effect, Marcus Fenix from Gears of War, an armoured alligator with a sword, and down in front, The Chamberlain from The Dark Crystal. Beyond the D20’s you can also see one of my dad’s belt buckles, a shiny green eagle’s head.

fafhrd

This is probably one of the most important pictures in my writing space. It’s a portrait of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser from Mike Mignola’s comic, and I love it. There is so much I love about Fantasy in this picture – the darkness of it, the various belts and weapons, the overly confident poses. I always look at this and wonder what a version with Wydrin and Sebastian would look like. They would stand exactly the same way I think, only Wydrin would be smirking and Sebastian would probably look faintly long-suffering. The Copper Promise is a love letter to Fritz Leiber’s kind of sword and sorcery, and looking at this picture always reconnects me to that.

oathbreaker

Here you can just about see the hilt of my larping sword. I named it Oathkeeper, although when labelling the photo I called it Oathbreaker, so I think it has a bit of a dual personality. When I’m writing lots of action scenes it’s pleasant to be able to pick up a sword and swing it about a bit. It’s not as heavy as a real sword, obviously, and I’m in no danger of decapitating anyone, but it gets me in the mood anyway. Also on the wreckage of my desk, not pictured, is a real dagger (pointy, but not sharpened) called Frostling, after one of Wydrin’s claws. It is very cool.

pinboard

Just to demonstrate that some actual work does happen in this room, here is my pin board, currently covered in bits and pieces about the sequel to The Copper Promise. It isn’t attached to the wall because I like to carry it around the flat sometimes, so I can do planning in the living room or the bedroom (the Box Room is bloody freezing in the winter).

And finally, the cat. She normally hangs around in the Box Room until she decides that the things on my desk all look better on the floor, at which point she is hurriedly booted out the door with a few well aimed swear words. She does look quite cute in this picture though.

pyra

 

So what about you? Do you have a space where you work, and it is filled with lovely things? Blog it and tag me and let’s all be nosy. Oh, and infinite cookies of win to anyone who can name any of the unnamed toys and pictures…

The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel is here!

Cover_blog_imagenew

Well, technically it was here yesterday, but Amazon were a little faster out of the block than I expected, and my book was all suddenly available and I had no time to write a blog post! Goodness me. So, you can buy it here. I hope you do, and I hope you like it. J

But yes! Very exciting. It was a strange feeling, seeing my cover up there on that big proper website, next to other books with proper covers, and now anyone can read it. Excitement! Terror! Snoopy dancing! I went through the whole range of writerly emotions (snoopy dancing is an emotion, shhhh).

So, what do I think you should know about The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel? 

It’s a novella, and it’s the first of a series of four. I wanted to write a sword and sorcery serial, one that would be a quick and fun read, full of adventure, peril and occasional scary bits. 

You can download it straight on to your kindle if you have one, or you can download various bits of kindle software from Amazon that will let you read it on your computer like a kindle. It’s also possible, I am told, to get an “app” on your “super-intelligent awesome-phone”, although that level of technology is a bit beyond me, to be honest.

I have been lucky enough to get a few good reviews already. There is this rather spectacular one over at Colin F. Barnes‘ website, which I am well chuffed about, Adam Christopher has done a marvellous blog post about it,  and there are a few great write-ups on Amazon now too. The reviews that are up are especially lovely for me as they all (so far) seem to really get what I was trying to do with this series; the novellas are, in their own small way, a love letter to Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, as well as the reams of adventurous fantasy they inspired, and it seems there is a great deal of love out there for this kind of “pulp” fiction.

And so, I must say a huge thank you to everyone who has bought a copy so far, and all those fabulous people leaving reviews and spreading the word; you are aces, and I owe you all some sort of fancy drink with an umbrella in.