Where Stories Are Made is a new feature here at Book Chick City. It’s where the author takes us on a tour of their writing place, be it an office, coffee shop or park and tells us about their writing day and rituals.
My guest today is Paul Magrs, author of the amazing Brenda & Effie paranormal mystery series and a new young adult novel, The Diary of a Dr. Who Addict…
Fester the cat wakes me at first light. He wants feeding but he knows there’s a whole rigmarole of stuff to do en route. The cat leads me from bedroom to bathroom and to my little study at the front of the house overlooking the leafy street.
We’ve got a Narnia-type lamp post at the front of the house and sometimes it’s still burning when I nudge the laptop into life.
I write a thousand words in the morning somewhere between my first cup of tea (leaf not bag, one sugar) and my first mug of coffee (Lavazza beans, one sugar.) The grinding of coffee wakes me up and Fester hardly notices the din as he wolfs his breakfast. No sign of Jeremy just yet.
So – before my thousand words of the day… there’s email from friends, colleagues and students, Facebook, Twitter, gossip and all that kind of thing. A quick look at blogs I like. I write my own blog as a warm-up exercise each morning – a book review (I’m usually a couple of books behind myself) or an update of some kind. And then onto work. A thousand words of whatever the current project is. Fester hops up onto the desk from the doorway of my room (that’s how little my room is, and how good a jumper our cat is). He perches himself between me and the laptop, purring madly – and away we go.
The early mornings are always about writing new stuff. Perhaps I’m in the middle of some new adventure for Brenda and Effie – my two ladies of a certain age, solving supernatural mysteries in the seaside town of Whitby. Cosy Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Chintzy Gothic – whatever you like to call it. That’s where I’m at, for many mornings in the year.
Mid-to-late morning is about Business Stuff. Correspondence, email, University-related stuff (I teach half-time at Manchester Metropolitan University). In the afternoon I have writing time for my Secondary Project – whatever that is. It’s often something Doctor Who related – I’ve written original tie-in books and audios for the series. My afternoons are often spent racketing about in time and space with the Doctor and friends.
Generally I always have at least two major projects on the go. Some time each day is spent in the afternoon reading, too. I can’t count it as a day’s work unless I’ve read for a good while. In term time, the afternoon and evening is often about teaching workshops and tutorial hours. The evenings are for films, friends, food and more books.
These days I have two main work spaces. I used to write anywhere, everywhere. I even used to write in my office at the university. Or in cafes or on buses. I can’t imagine that now. Now I love the early morning relative quiet of my room at the front of the house. With the rattle and hum of the trains going by and the wood pigeons in the trees. I work straight onto my laptop, whether I’m in my study or outside in the Beach Hut at the bottom of the garden.
The Beach Hut was supposed to be a shed. Somewhere for Jeremy to put his gardening tools and for me to write in, occasionally. When I was a kid I saw a film about Roald Dahl sitting in his shed and doing his writing, with a tray upon his knee. Ever since, that has been the perfect image for me of a writer’s life – stumping off down the bottom of the garden with all your supplies. And here I am now – slogging away at my books and sitting out in the summer in the largest shed Jeremy could find. It’s strung with lights and hung with seascape paintings we’ve bought in car boot sales. It’s shaded by birch and magnolia and it’s a perfect place to work and read.
I need comfort, homeliness, mess and our cat around me. Papers and books and all my many journals, diaries, notebooks. I like to draw and scribble while I think, and flip through reference books and old comics. There are wicker baskets all over our house, filled with writing materials, books, magazines, clipped articles and drawing books. There are bookcases in every room and the TBR piles shame and delight me in equal measure. The radio is on in the kitchen all the time and I cook to give myself something practical to do that doesn’t involve words.
It’s taken me a long while to figure out how best I work. How to keep myself happy while I work. After fifteen years of professional fiction writing I think I know a bit more about both the art and the profession than I did at the start – and maybe a bit more about enjoying the process, or at least staying comfy while I’m writing. Just lately I’m enjoying the various ongoing projects I’m working on. I have three main continuing series and sets of characters – there’s Brenda and Effie in Whitby. There’s Iris Wildthyme and Panda in a science fiction series I’m planning. And there’s the Fourth Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey in the Doctor Who series of audiobooks I write for the BBC. And there’s something else new coming along, too…! These are some of my favourite characters ever – and each day at work in my own space is another spent happily with these characters and their ludicrous, wonderful adventures.
The Diary of a Dr. Who Addict: Out Now (Simon & Schuster)
Hell’s Bells: Out Now (Headline)
The Bride That Time Forgot: Oct 2010 (Headline)
You can find out more about this feature HERE
If you’re an author and would like to be featured on Where Stories Are Made please email me: HERE
**Next time on ‘Where Stories Are Made’: Chloe Neill**