It’s very exciting and a privilege to be a part of Kerry’s blog hop in celebration of its paperback release! I read and reviewed Tony Hogan this time last year during the throes of morning sickness and luckily, her book managed to pull my mind away and immerse me in the world of Jannie Ryan. And what fun it truly was. But that is enough, I shall hand you over to the brilliant, hilarious and talented Kerry herself who tells us about her favourite London writing spots;
Tony Hogan was written during a six month stint in Vietnam but before Tony Hogan there were short stories, and after Tony Hogan there was Thirst; all written in London. I love writing in London and feeling surrounded by the energy of everything happening while just feeling like a tiny part of that. London is a place you can disappear into and I consider the city itself my version of Jonathan Franzen’s blindfold and noise-cancelling headphones. So I thought I’d share my favourite London writing spots. In writing them I realise I need to be around background chatter and human activity (but to have it make no demands upon me) I have routine places where I sit, I like something interesting to look up at and I always, always need to be close to some good food
Clissold Leisure Centre – yep, it smells like swimming baths and everything sounds a bit weirdly tinny but ever since I used to go sit in the empty spectator area to watch my ex do endless laps as she trained for a triathlon I have found it a fantastic place to write. I am aware it’s a bit weird to write in a leisure centre but I’m training for Berlin Marathon at the moment so the fact I can go for a run, grab a Monmouth coffee and some sourdough toast from the cafe, and then unpack my laptop and write as the watery splashes and light reflected from the pool fill up my eyes and ears just works for me.
The British Library – Though I’ve never been in the reading rooms. I have a favourite table, one of the triangular ones, in the cafe. In all the years I’ve been going to the British Library I’ve only maybe twice not got that table – proof my friends that it is indeed *my* table. I have a Payton & Bryne biscuit and a black coffee (their other coffees are shite but their cakes are amply compensatory). It’s dim and genteel, they have a good gift shop and then I emerge into the chaos of Kings Cross I always feel like I’ve been on a restful holiday.
The Southbank Centre – This is my, and many other writers, mainstay. I choose a round table right in the middle of the fifth floor which has a beautiful view across the Thames to Embankment. I’ve seen many a sunset sitting there and, in fact, much of Thirst, my second novel, was written sitting in that exact spot. Southbank Centre let me count the ways I love you…no there are too many but the fact it is a wee hive of entertainment, always something wonderful to see or do on a writing break, that there are loads of cafes and my beloved BFI right next door all add up. Most of all having the Poetry Library is like having a giant room of prompts whenever you need one; try it, just go in and pick up a book at random read a poem, it is good for the soul.
Tate Modern – Up in the cafe. Usually in the last hour of the day as the dusk is settling. Mostly I’ll go visit a few of my favourite rooms (the Joseph Beuys, a roomful of Mexican photography by someone whose name I always forget) and then tap away looking out at St Paul’s, listening to the thrum of all the different languages around me and be grateful that I can come here any time I choose.
Everywhere else – The truth is, the best thing you can do for yourself as a writer, busy writer who has relationships and a full-time job and bill-paying to worry about, is to make yourself as flexible as possible. If you can learn to write wherever you can, with whatever you have, you’re heading in the right direction. I have written on overnight trains, in Vietnamese internet cafes with little boys playing Street Fighter next to me, standing up jammed under someone’s chin on the District Line, between calls in a tele-marketing job, on an Island in the middle of Lake Baikal in Siberia, on planes, trains, in cars, in parks and forests and up mountains, at home, in the office, in Chinese brothels and Laos saunas.
The words will come wherever you are, you’re in control, and sometimes a unique or uncomfortable environment can have an extraordinary impact on what words come. Have you favourites, I do, but the important thing is to write, to squeeze all the joy that can be had from that, and then just keep on writing.
To get your very own copy, pop along here as well as any book shop.
Competition time to win a copy of Tony Hogan;
‘Want to win a signed copy of Tony Hogan? I’m trying to put together a Tony Hogan soundtrack. Simply submit your song suggestion to me @kerryswindow on Twitter with the hashtag #tonyhogantune by the end of Monday 8th of July. If your song is one of the ten selected for the soundtrack (and you were the first to suggest it!) I’ll send you a signed copy of Tony Hogan.’
Don’t forget to catch Kerry tomorrow at A Salted where she will talk about the challenge of writing that dreaded second novel!