Where I write

Like most people, I’m very nosy about other peoples’ ‘spaces’. I love to know what their houses are like and yes, I also like to know where other authors write. Personally speaking, I have a fully appointed summerhouse in the garden with a champagne fridge and perfect wifi*

uksummerhouse_inside2

Well I do in my dreams. That or a gypsy caravan. Or, perhaps, a campervan I can hop into and drive off in. In reality, I have a corner of the dining room, and I face the wall so I’m not distracted by the view of the garden. I also have a laptop which comes with me when I need to work away from the house. But I don’t transport it via campervan.

My workspace is joyously muddled with pretty notebooks, a selection of pens, family photos and nick-nacks (the heart-shaped stone and the purple teddy bear are gifts from a friend). And don’t forget the coffee cup coasters, the USB pens (one shaped as a cupcake) and the novelty paperclip – he’s one of a set another friend got me. I don’t know what’s slid under the speaker thing. Maybe one day I’ll investigate. This is my space here:

my space

My workspace has got me through a Literature Degree, a Masters, five self-published books, several Powerpoint presentations for talks I’ve done, three trilogies, three novellas and numerous unfinished ‘bits’ as well as loads of short stories. But in my quest for nosiness,  I asked my friend, cover-designer and fellow Choc Lit author Berni Stevens some questions about her workspace… which is pictured below.

Berni's office

Whereabouts is your desk based – tell me about your house (and the ghost from next door!)

My desk is in the small study which is an extension on the back of our old cottage.  It used to be part of the garden 🙂 What you can’t see from the photo are the hundreds (and hundreds) of books. The shelves are stuffed and now I have books piled on the floor. I should have a cull, but I can’t bear to.

Our house is a tiny Jacobean cottage, built in 1620, and Grade 2 listed. Being listed can be a problem, we have to get permission whenever we want to do anything. The extension plans took a year to go through – had to go to the Council, the Listed Buildings people and English Heritage. (They all took for ever!) But it’s good I think, otherwise we would lose a lot of amazing historical houses. The original cottage was part of the farmhouse to Bushey Manor. The Manor (sadly) is long gone. We have an inglenook fireplace which I love, and beams everywhere. Creaky floorboards upstairs too. The fireplace has a bread oven (where we keep wine) and a salt drying compartment. It’s amazing to think what the house must have seen – I wish it could talk. I wonder if anyone died from the plague here (not a comforting thought).

My next door neighbour says she is constantly finding things have been moved, drawers opened that she knew she’d closed etc. She thinks the ghost is mischievous rather than malevolent. I have never ‘felt’ anything here and we have a cat who would no doubt ‘tell’ us. But one of my friends shrieked one evening saying ‘someone’ touched her hair.

What does the stained glass window look out onto?

The stained glass window looks in rather than out – and the room the other side is a teeny tiny bathroom. The design in the stained glass is a copy of an original witch’s mark which is on one of our oak doors. We got it made when we had the extension built. It gives the bathroom borrowed light.

What gives you the most inspiration around your area?

Everything really. I often look at the spines on the books and mix up names to see whether they will work for a new character. This room is full of my favourite things, pictures, ornaments, concert tickets, holiday photos and Navajo artifacts.

 A skull, a witch and a gargoyle. And pictures of vampires? Tell me what they mean to you.

The skull was given to me (by my son, Sam) last year for Mother’s Day. It’s a paint your own Dios de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) skull. I had a great time designing the pattern and painting it. The witch was a secret Santa pressie from the Dracula Society Christmas party, the gargoyle a present from one of my best friends and the signed picture of Spike? Well I am a massive Buffy fan and Spike and Dru are my favourite vampires. I also have a Spike figure on the bookshelf, but you can’t see him in the picture.

What’s in the mug? What is your snack of choice when you’re working – and where do you balance it???

In the mug is cranberry and raspberry herbal tea. I don’t drink ordinary tea. In fact I don’t have anything with caffeine. Snack of choice . . . a cube of cheese, a yoghurt or fruit – or all of the above 🙂  Balancing is a problem!

Thank you Berni, that’s lovely! Your cottage sounds beautiful – one day, I’ll get down to visit you and you can take me to Highgate Cemetery to see Lizzie Siddal’s grave!

Berni has two books out with Choc Lit – both about vampires and both wonderful – Dance Until Dawn and Revenge is Sweet. Here’s her Choc Lit page link – worth pursuing, I think; then you can see what her inspiring workspace…inspires!

http://www.choc-lit.com/productcat/berni-stevens/

*Picture credit from www.thistinyhouse.com

 

 

 

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