You know, sometimes when you ask an author a question, they don't just give you a simple answer, they give you a whole story - that's the totally wonderful thing about them - they're storytellers. So you will find that as the Writing Room Revelation series progresses, there will be a few posts dedicated to a single writer - because, well, because that writer wanted to share a story with you.
Yes, of course you best say thank you; it is a privilege.
In today's post, Fiona Dunbar - best-selling author of the Lulu Baker/Jinx, and Silk Sisters trilogies and the new Kitty Slade series) answers my questions:
1. Where do you write? And what does your writing space give you – i.e. why do you write there?
2. Where do you do your most creative thinking – and when? (e.g. particular time of day, conscious space e.g. dreams)
3. Do you use/need anything particular in order to help you write? (e.g. music, chocolate, coffee, silence etc) In what way does this “support” help you?
My workspace isn't actually ready, you understand. But Nicky wanted this piece now, so here it is. It's my brand new study, so pictures have yet to be hung on walls, that pile of junk you see sitting on top of the plan chest needs sorting through and putting away, and I need to get a proper mat for under my chair. But then, workspaces are always works in progress really, aren't they? We don't exactly prioritise them interior-design-wise. I didn't tidy up for this pic, so it's a miracle there's nothing on the floor. Actually no, it isn't, because finally I have managed to plan a space that allows for source-material-spreadage, i.e. it has enough places to put things. Never underestimate the extent of source-material-spreadage.
What is really fab about my new study is the French windows that lead out onto a deck. This is now My Deck. Yes, I am spoiled: yes, I deserve it, so there. Occasionally I will take the laptop out there but not often, because on a sunny day the screen is highly reflective (I do have one of those hoods to put over it but frankly it's a pain; someone needs to design a better version). Also, sometimes it's noisy out there: this is a terraced house in London, with all that that entails. But as a spot to sit and read, muse, make notes…it's fab.
I have to mention Alfonso. Alfonso is my gilded Spanish chicken, and he lives on the ledge behind my desk. He's a little the worse for wear, poor thing: I found him in a tiny shop in Seville in the late 80s, and he's a bit worn out now – but he's still smiling. I do like his expression; it makes me smile, too. I plan to fill my work space gradually with things that resonate with me for whatever reason: things that give off positive energy, to indulge in some ghastly New-Age-Speak. Alfonso definitely does that. He was the Chicken of Happiness, long before Edward Monckton thought of such a thing.
I work in silence: I would find music of any sort distracting.
What keeps me going through the day are:
· Pukka herbal teas. I can't have caffeine, so these are a godsend: herbal teas that are really flavourful. Oh, and Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla. This seems SO dull as I write: would love to claim I survive exclusively on Jack Daniels and Woodbines, but alas I think I'd be dead if I did;
· Almonds & raisins: my absolute favourite snack. I really should lie about this, shouldn't I? Yeah, really I graze on morsels of suckling pig, spit-roasted on my deck by a half-naked assistant;
· Facebook. But only after 2pm. OK, sometimes 1pm. Or 12 noon. Hey, it's a lonely business, this: we writers are pathetically grateful when people 'like' our comments on FB. It makes feel as if we exist or something;
· Exercise. No, actually not. A walk to the shops, or to go and have a non-coffee with Keren David or Candy Gourlay. That counts as exercise, right?
· Naps. There is a little chunk of night-time for 3am-4am when I am wide awake. Always. That little chunk of night-time gets transferred to 3pm: that is when I take a snooze. Incidentally, 3am is my Magic Hour: that is when I get all my best ideas. And no, I don't mean those ones that you dream, scrawl on a pad, and then read the next morning 'monkey tennis' or something (apologies, Steve Coogan). I mean wide-awake, proper ideas: solutions to problems you've been straining over all day that just ping into your brain, all shiny and clever like someone else thought of them. Amazing thing, your brain: it doesn't stop working on that question you asked it ten hours ago, just because you've been making the dinner and watching The Apprentice.
Fiona Dunbar's new Kitty Slade series kicks off to a great start with Divine Freaks.
"Hey, I'm Kitty Slade. Just your average, normal girl, doing, you know, normal stuff. Got a brother (annoying), a sister (quite annoying) and a grandma (she's awesome).
Oh yeah, and one more thing. I can see dead people."
When a ghost turns up in her biology classroom, only one thing's for sure - Kitty Slade's life is about to get freaky...
Fiona says of her new series "I started out wanting to write a series of mystery stories, along the lines of The Famous Five, only more up-to-date. Then I was looking at the start of a story I’d written about a ghost-busting boy, and I knew I wanted to incorporate that idea too, so what I ended up with was a bit more like a junior version of Ghost Whisperer."
To read more about Kitty Slade and Fiona's inspiration and motivation see Fiona's website - or watch the book trailer below.
Fiona Dunbar can be found at http://www.fionadunbar.com
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There'll be more Writing Room Revelations later this week!