If you’re a famous author and you’re planning to invite me to a house party, prepare to find me shiftily wandering around your upstairs hallway come 10pm. Just as I’m fascinated by the shapes and colours of excellent writing, I’m fascinated in knowing how it happens. And as it’s still frowned on to ask bestselling authors for brain scans instead of autographs, I’ve learned to settle for a sneak at their homes, offices and writing routines. Below are the places I get my kicks.
The Guardian may have ended its fascinating Writers’ Rooms series of articles but luckily, just like those pictures of me with fat arms at my sister’s wedding, on the internet nothing is ever really gone. Stop by the archives to rifle through the desks of Wendy Cope, Louis de Bernières and Marina Warner. I love the descriptions each author has submitted to go with their room and I’m especially proud of any that decided to stick two fingers up at the idea of tidying up and left everything in creative disarray.
There’s also Where I Write: Guardian Children’s Authors which is as above but focused on writers for the chronologically challenged.
How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors by Dan Crowe
A weighty, lush paper tribute to author’s workspaces and vices, this is the sort of book you should keep on your coffee table but somehow it never leaves your desk because you just keeping going back to it. The photography makes even post it notes (Will Self’s secret) look somehow erotic and the featured writers submitting the accompanying essays are strictly A list, Douglas Coupland, A.S. Byatt and the curmudgeon we love to hate, Jonathan Franzen.
A project by Kyle Cassidy, this series of photographs focuses on fantasy, science fiction and comic book authors like M. Alice LeGrow, Peter Straub and my own personal horror hero, Ellen Datlow. It’s light on details but gets bonus points for sneaking in so many pets.
When the photos stop being enough to feed your addiction to eyeball authors’ homes, you need to move on to the harder stuff: videos. The project was created by publisher Hachette and they’ve managed to corral their big name authors like Ian Rankin and Joanne Harris into taking part. Even better they haven’t ignored more diverse writers like Wattpad hits Jenny Rosen and Pia Bhatt.
And if your tastes are more textual then don’t worry, I have your back. Some of the best books I’ve found about the writing process – routines, inspirational tics and superstitions can found in the books below.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors by Sarah Stodola
On Writing by Stephen King
A Slip Of The Keyboard by Terry Pratchett