Laura Wilson’s Scene of the Crime
Laura Wilson, acclaimed crime writer and crime reviewer for the Guardian, opens the door to her writing room.
Posted on February 24, 2016 in Guest Author
I can write anywhere, but I like writing at home best, in this room. I know it looks untidy, but I don’t consider it to be so because I know where everything is. I painted the walls red partly because I like the colour and partly in the hope that it would somehow promote creativity. Most of the red is now obscured by bookshelves and pictures, but there’s enough left showing for a nice warm glow. The ‘partners’ desk was found in a junk shop about twenty years ago. It’s an early example of self-assembly furniture (Edwardian, I think), and it’s accompanied me from house to house. Unlike modern flatpacks, it’s a piece of cake to put together – no Allen keys or incomprehensible instructions (no instructions at all, in fact, just discreetly inked letters to tell you what slots in where).
My side of the desk is the one with the ladderback chair. Until his death just after Christmas, the other side was my husband’s territory. George was a noisy person, much given to banging about, swearing at his computer and having loud telephone conversations, so I wasn’t keen on him being in the room while I was working – in fact, I had a large piece of card with ‘UNLESS THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE, PISS OFF’ written on it, which I would hold up if he approached the doorway. I’d give anything to be able to wave it at him now.
That said, I’m not at all precious about needing a quiet environment in which to work. I’m an urban person, and too much silence makes me uneasy. I never have music on while I’m working, but I like the background hum of traffic and other noises from the street and, for this reason (and because the room can’t be too warm, or I become dopey), I usually have the window open.
I have notebooks for scribbling down ideas and so on, but I do the actual composing on a laptop. There’s something about typing – I’m very fast – which aids continuous thought. At the moment, I’m concerned about the notebooks – the ones I’ve used ever since I started writing my first novel over twenty years ago (God) have just been discontinued and, having used up my entire stock, I’m now down to the last few pages in the final one. I haven’t been able to source any more, which is making me anxious – and knowing that my anxiety is irrational somehow makes it worse.
Behind my chair is the dog basket, where Florence the basset hound and Gemma the labrador have their post-walk snooze while I’m working. Sometimes they snore, but on the whole they’re quiet. Occasionally they get involved – once, when I was writing what I considered to be a particularly tender love scene, one of them hopped out of the basket and was sick on my foot. These days, everyone’s a critic.
Laura Wilson is author of The Wrong Girl, out now in paperback