I write everywhere and anywhere (doctors’ waiting rooms, beaches, in the bleachers at gymnastics competitions, windy Portuguese campsites). When you’re a writer, when this compulsion is in your blood and your messy fevered little soul, it can come to you wherever and whenever. Added to this, I have a full-on full-time day job and two busy kids to run around after, so it’s hardly surprising that I stow my MacBook in my handbag and snatch any opportunity I have to bash out some words. But I’m also as much of a fan as the next guy of habit and routine, so I definitely have a few favoured spots.
I live in Andalucía, in Southern Spain, which is all about the dry air and the vast clear skies, meteorologically speaking. What this means in practice is that summers are sizzling affairs under swathes of bright blue, with temperatures edging regularly into the high thirties/early forties, and winters are starlit and icy, with a cold that creeps deep into your bones. For these reasons, my favoured writing spots vary a little with the seasons.
On summer weekends, the sofas on my patio are by far my favourite spot. My husband made these sofas out of wooden pallets he found on our local industrial estate, and he knocked them up in just a few days, even though his alter ego is a high school geography teacher, and he’d never done anything quite like that before. He’s extremely handy with power tools, and just as creative as me, albeit in an entirely different way. I find these sofas amazingly beautiful and comfortable, and it’s even more satisfying because they cost almost nothing, they’re unique and they were handmade by one of my favourite humans.
I love writing outside under the ridiculously blue sunny and Spanish skies, gazing across at the mountain near my house, which is a constant character in my daily life. My window at my day job looks out onto it, and it has occupied most of the view from my bedroom every day that has dawned since I moved to Spain. Locals say it’s good luck to be able to see it from where you live, and it’s certainly proven so for me.
Once winter rolls around, which it eventually does in late November, there’s no better spot for weekend writing than right by my wood-burning stove. I love nothing more than putting on some music, stoking up the fire and sitting with a blanket over my knees (yep, I’m a proper granny at times) while the sun drops and the fire crackles and the stars begin to wheel past the window. I’m sure the wide open, star speckled skies in this part of the world are what inspired me to write about space in the first place.
I have no doubt at all that where I write affects what I write, at least atmospherically, and so that’s why I have loved setting a large part of my latest book, THE TRUTH OF DIFFERENT SKIES, in my adopted home country of Spain (albeit the Spain of 2050). I’m hoping the long, languid, intensely beautiful Andalucian summer I wrote it in lifts off the page, and leaves the sound of cicadas ringing in the reader’s ears, just as they did in mine.