• The Dark Room

Where I Write Part 6: Denise Deegan, Mona Wise and David Maybury

Writing.ie | Magazine | Interviews | Where I Write

By Vanessa O'Loughlin

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As YA author Denise Deegan launches the third in her Butterfly Novels series, And Actually, she tells us where she writes…

“I am writing this piece in an orthodontist’s waiting room, too early, on a Saturday morning. It’s a theme. I write pretty much anywhere, especially when there is a deadline.

During the working week, I write at home. But I move around. I follow the sun, starting at the front of the house on the comfy white couch in our sitting room, where the morning sun is turned into rainbows by two glass lamps just inside the window. Later, it’s to the open plan area at the back of the house. I move around here too, between the kitchen, dining and sitting areas. Just for variety! The best thing about being at the back of the house is that I can keep the dog company. Homer is a golden retriever and the only character in The Butterfly Novels based on real life. He’s incredibly social and I feel guilty if he’s on his own for too long.

There’s an actual spot in our bedroom where I’m most creative. Every morning, I as I’m doing my pilates (something I hate but can’t avoid because I have a bad back), the ideas start to flow. I have to stop regularly to jot them down on a notebook, random piece of paper or into my phone. I have been known to write in bed though we won’t spread that around.

I didn’t plan to write young adult novels. I was in a coffee shop with a friend who is an artist. We thought we might work on picture books together. We brainstormed over coffee. One idea was that of a dad who would go abroad for work and would then come home and tell his daughter about the country he’d visited. Both of us thought the concept too boring. My friend popped to the loo. While she was gone, a whole dialogue entered my head. It was that of a sixteen year old girl who was angry with her father because he wasn’t around. The voice was angry and sarcastic yet vulnerable. I started scribbling on a napkin. This one dialogue is what started The Butterfly Novels. I think that changing the place you write definitely can help creativity.

Often, the best ideas (and or whole conversations) come to me when I’m not at the computer but out walking, swimming, in the shower or doing anything where my mind is just wandering and thoughts are just floating around. Often people find me stopped in the middle of the path fingers pumping words into my phone. Usually, I’m not texting but trying to catch the thoughts before they float away again. I have no memory whatsoever.

I’m finishing this piece in the car in a school car park while waiting for my son to finish playing a rugby game. Both windows down, a fresh September breeze carries back-to-school sounds – shouts from the pitch, a lawnmower, and the clack of studs on pavement. Who knows what ideas this will lead to but I’m hoping they’ll be good.”

Mona Wise‘s her first book (The Chef & I. A Nourishing Narrative) was published in May 2012 – and is thankfully, she tells us, selling like hotcakes! A food writer and Sunday Times columist, Mona lives in Galway with her husband, chef Ron Wise, their children Jack and Rorí, and foster daughters Sam and Lulu, dog Pearl, and 14 hens, ducks, turkeys and guinea fowl. Mona says:

“Thanks to Apple iMac, iPad, iPhone and the most treasured, iCloud, ‘iWrite’ anywhere I want and anytime I want.

My favourite space to write is in my office at home. We call it ‘the priests room’ here in Galway. You know, that second sitting room – no kids allowed –  with cosy chairs and sofas. A cast iron open fireplace flanks the wall as the main focal point, instead of a telly, and a large work table for my desktop and stacks of paperwork that seems to always be more than less.

I am a typist. The last piece of long hand writing I did was my leaving cert exam more than twenty years ago, but as a busy mum of four small children, I am one of those people that needs a bit of peace and quiet when I write. I have been a natural early riser my whole life and find myself awake before 6am most days so have a good hour or two of reading and writing each morning before the rest of the family gets moving. As the nature of my writing leans mostly towards food and wine, I like to surround myself with seasonal objects. I am very visual and like to keep props within arms reach especially if I am planning a photo shoot to go with my words. Right now we are working on Christmas recipes so there is quite a bit of Christmas kitsch laying about.

When on the road, for work or for pleasure, the two most essential pieces of equipment I have are my iPad and earphones. I listen to a lot of podcasts (more than music) as I am a nerdy documentary/non-fiction loving kinda gal, but sometimes find it very hard to focus on getting the words on the page if there is too much distraction visually or otherwise. So, I keep ‘Simply noise’ streaming on my iPhone. Their featured ‘Thunderstorm’ works EVERY time. I plug in, play the storm and write like crazy. Needless to say, it does not always work that easily when I’m just listening to the rain outside!

In addition to my sound blocking oddities, I also wear fingerless gloves when I write. I am a long time sufferer of low blood pressure, so keep the fire lit in the office (almost) all year round and keep my gloves by the keyboard. I work fifty minute hours. I spend fifty minutes writing and ten minutes playing on Facebook and Twitter. This is like my little reward for getting some work done.

My husband, who bakes for a living at Mortons of Galway, gets home around 2:30pm and we like to take a daily walk to talk about the kids, supper, the next few recipes we are working on for the Sunday Times column, or the next food excursion we might make. Then, he starts preparing the evening meal and I get back to my desk for a few hours before the kids get home from school and absorb our time for the rest of the evening. After supper and kids are bedded for the night, I return only to the books for reading pleasure. I rarely write at night – almost never. I find that even if I do a rough draft after 4pm I still need to do an almost full re-write the next day when my brain is awake and ready. One of the lessons I learned last year, when I was given the opportunity to take a year off from structured college to ‘live the life of a writer’ is that I am disciplined. I like routine and can stick to my schedules and deadlines like glue.

You can find out more about me and my writing at www.WiseWords.ie Our book ‘The Chef & I. A nourishing narrative’ can be bought online at Kennys Book Shop  and they offer free shipping worldwide so it will make a lovely Christmas present! OR you can download the eBook online at Amazon.”

Another multi talented writer and blogger David Maybury edited Inis Magazine for many years, and is one of the mysterious authors behind Irish publisher Little Island’s fabulous Nightmare Club series, penned by ‘Annie Graves’ (perfect for Halloween!). His book Frankenkids is out soon. David told us:

“Writing is romantic. You find an empty office space in the centre of your favourite city, four floors up with an affordable rent and a great view of the river. You paint the walls, drag every book you own up there, line them up and shelve them. You haul a couch in, a desk, three chairs and then you visit IKEA to find that perfect wall clock.
Three weeks of your life is spent finding that perfect arrangement of furniture until you sit, pull out that perfect clean white page and wait. A day when nothing happens is okay. Then a week. A month. You start to be a little loose on when you visit. Every day for a month. Every second day for six months. Maybe you skip a week.
Finally a year later you think, maybe I need to freshen the office.You move furniture, paint a mural on the wall. Hang new prints of your favourite illustrators. Maybe you bring some work in and you get busy doing that and forget about writing for a few more weeks.
That office was where I never wrote a word. Anything I have ever gotten down on paper was in a notebook, sitting awkwardly on a bus, train or plane. On a parkbench, maybe. Before sitting, at home, with a laptop and typing some more.
I finally gave up the studio and that romantic idea of writing late into the night (after a full day of work, it was never going to happen) and brought everything home. I stopped worrying about where I wrote… and focussed on getting words written where ever I could.
These days I write/type/read/work in the spare room at home sometimes and I miss the view of the river… when I really want to procrastinate.”
Read an extract of David’s Annie Graves Frankenkids  here and take a peak at David’s spare room below!
 For more Where I Write, and to find out some of the curious places that words are spun, click here
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