We’ve got Jan Ellis here today, sharing her writing cave in the beautiful city of Wells. Benedict Cumberbatch fans sit up and take note!
Hello Georgia and thank you for inviting me to tell you about my writing space.
Readers of my novellas might be disappointed to learn that I don’t compose in a bijou French farmhouse. Instead I work in the slightly less glamorous surroundings of a landing over the kitchen.
It is a very nice landing, mind you, and my desk is above a passageway through which previous residents would have herded their animals from the street to the fields beyond.
The oldest part of the house has been here for about 400 years, although someone added a new bit at some point in the 17th century. As an historian, it gives me a real thrill to know that I’m just the latest in a long line of people who have lived here. On the negative side, it can be chilly and in winter I tend to wear a natty pair of fingerless gloves to tap out my stories. The dog has bagged the best spot, right in front of the radiator.
The terrace is within a few hundred yards of Wells Cathedral in what was once an area inhabited by artisans, washer-women, ladies of ill-repute and assorted ne’er-do-wells. I’m afraid that it’s not quite so racy these days, although we do have film crews coming through on a regular basis: I walked past Benedict Cumberbatch who was sitting on a horse not long ago. Not being a ‘Cumberbitch’, I didn’t realise the earth-shattering significance of this sighting!
At home, the day always begins and ends with a dog walk in the local woods, which provides valuable thinking time. I’m self-employed so writing fiction has to be fitted in around the ‘day jobs’ (currently numbering eight); I sometimes feel like one of those 1970s TV entertainers who kept lots of plates spinning on sticks. I love it and having such a variety of work certainly keeps me on my toes.
One advantage of having plenty of things on the go is that I never get bored. Once my characters have taken over and the story is flowing I can take a break from real work to write a scene, then go back to where I left off. The down side to having a magpie brain and oodles of different tasks is that my desk can easily disappear under a mountain of paper if I’m not careful. Of course, the only time that the place ever gets tidied up properly (ie. crumbs Hoovered off the keyboard, dead flies removed from the windowsill) is when a deadline approaches. If it wasn’t for frequent deadlines the living room would be knee-deep in dog hair.
Oh, how I know that feeling!
I’m very good at displacement activities: in fact, I am writing this post for you now instead of finishing my fourth – and as yet unnamed – novella. (Fortunately Endeavour Press are very relaxed about publishing schedules.) In the story, my heroine Kate is bullied into online dating by her friend Imogen. These dates don’t always go well.
We’ve got a sneak preview from Jan’s next book here:
‘“He did what?”
“At the end of the meal he yanked out a hair,” said Kate, rubbing her scalp at the memory of the sting.
“Weirdo. What’s he going to do with it? Keep it in a locket around his neck?”
“No, much worse. Or maybe not, depending on your view of weird versus mean and dishonest.”
“Go on,” said Imogen.
“He dunked it into what was left of his coffee mousse then made a big fuss of calling over the manager and saying he’d found it there, that it was disgraceful, especially as this was a special anniversary dinner . . .”
“Yup. And he made such a hoo-hah about it, threatening to bring in the environmental health people, blah, blah, that the manager wouldn’t let him pay so we got a free meal.”
“It was awful. And to cap it all, he had the nerve to ask if I’d like to see him again!”
“And do you?”
“Duh! Of course not.” Sometimes Immy still managed to shock her. “Why do you think I’d want to see him again after that?”
“More free meals?” Imogen shrugged. “And he was quite cute.”
“He was nowhere near as cute as he looked in his profile, he had bad breath and he was a cheapskate. So no, I will not be seeing him again. Not ever, never.”‘
Now I must get back to filling the bird-feeders, changing the sheets, walking the neighbour’s dog – oh, and finishing that book.
If you want to find out more about the lovely Jan, here are the links:
Jan is published by Endeavour Press and here are details of her books:
An Unexpected Affair
A Summer of Surprises
Thanks so much for coming on Jan and sharing your writing space!