My Writing Room

My Writing Room image - Thursday 3rd April 2014

We live in a tall thin house in Notting Hill and my writing room is down in the basement, dark and deep, with bars on the windows - my own personal dungeon.

I have taken the photo very close in out of shame at the general untidiness. The desk is nothing like as well organised as it appears here, the hinterland behind the computer strewn with books, used coffee mugs, bars of chocolate and general bric-a-brac. I have tidied it for the photo, but within an hour it will resemble a mini-landfill once more.

The shelves above it are piled high with reference books that I never, ever open, and piles of the various foreign editions of my novels. The overseas publishers kindly send me 10 – sometimes 20 – of each, and there are only so many that my local Oxfam is prepared to take. I don’t like to throw them away in case I one day get to know someone Indonesian, Latvian or Thai, on whom I can press a copy, whether they want one or not. So these translations sit there, stacked up like bricks.

My computer screen is studded with sticky labels reminding me of the pin codes and passwords for my bank and building society accounts: burglars will thank me for this one day.

The keyboard is grimy and when turned upside down releases enough crumbs to make half a packet of Rich Tea. I have my iPad mini to hand, so that I can distract myself from the writing process by seeing my e-mails and Twitter interactions come in.

The things of sentimental value that I have are the nursery school paintings done by my children, a photo of my parents, and one of myself with my partner Greg. There’s also a photograph of my grandmother, when she was young and living in India, wearing a beautiful Pierrot costume. I think this may lead to a novel one day. I love the small clock in the shape of a book, which Wendy Holden gave me. On my screen saver is our cocker spaniel, Alfie. He’s eight months old and we adore him. I cannot write a word unless he is lying at my feet.