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Posted by Tom, September 27, 2013

Where I work: Caryl Hart

The latest instalment in an occasional series of blogposts, in which some of our authors and illustrators share their favourite writing spots. Today Caryl Hart, author of The Princess and the Peas, shows us her studio.

I spent my first six years as a would-be and then published author working from home. We have a small study in the middle of the house which is lovely, but also a thoroughfare for the family. So last May, I moved into a small studio in town and it’s wonderful! I no longer have to spend half an hour looking for a pen, or the sellotape, or my note book. Everything is here. And when I put something down, it’s STILL here the next day!

Also our house is old – dated around 1850, with thick stone walls and is half built into the hillside, so it can get incredibly cold when you are sitting still at the computer all day, even if it’s blazing hot outside. I did think about investing in one of these, but the draw of my own studio space was even more enticing.

So here I am. And I’m loving it. I bring Roo, my dog, with me. She has her own special bed and bag of gravy bones, and we’re really close to a brilliant park so we can go out for walks at lunchtime if we want to. Actually, once I’m here, I only really leave my desk to make cups of tea, but still, we COULD go if we wanted to. And I see real human beings too. There is a road outside where people walk in and out of town. Many of them have a good old nosey at me as they’re passing, which is quite funny. Rather like being in a goldfish bowl, I guess, but I don’t mind. If I want privacy I can always close the blinds.

But I don’t only work in the studio. I love working on trains – I think it’s the fact that there is absolutely nothing else to do when you’re on a train. You can barely even move. I love the discipline a two-hour stretch of immobility gives me and also like being surrounded by the general hubbub of life that you get on a train. The other day, though, someone was crunching crisps really loudly behind me, which was rather off-putting, especially as I didn’t have a packet of my own.

I make copious notes on my phone when I’m out and about, and also have a whole shelf full of notebooks that I scribble ideas, to do lists and terrible sketches in. The trouble with my notebooks is that I never remember to date anything, so it always takes me ages to find old notes and thoughts that I want to re-visit. Still, in the process I usually stumble upon some other half-forgotten idea which can trigger a whole new wave of creativity, so it’s never wasted time.

Finally, I recently bought an iPad and a bluetooth keyboard. It’s VERY snazzy and I’m enjoying pretending to work on it, while secretly playing with kids’ apps and watching videos of cats on YouTube. Well, you’ve got to have SOME time off, haven’t you?

Thank you, Caryl! You can take a look inside The Princess and the Peas below, and order the book online from Waterstones here.