This week we peek behind the scenes into the workplace of Katharine D’Souza from Birmingham, England. Katharine sets her fiction in the city where she lives – remember – the place that according to that recent, hilariously ill-informed US Fox News interview with their so-called terrorism expert is 100% Muslim (he since apologised). So reading one of Katharine’s books may be a good place to start if you want to get a more accurate picture of life in the city.
Over to Katharine:
I’m fortunate to have a room to call my own but of course its function is shared between writing, life admin and a little general storage, so my desk doesn’t always look as tidy as this picture suggests! I write contemporary fiction set in Birmingham and, as well as the two books I’ve already published, I currently have one novel in the early stages of development (which is happening in the blue notebook towards the back of the desk) and one in final edit – the pile of books beside the laptop is how that’s happening.
I write directly onto my laptop, but the notebooks are useful for character notes, scraps of ideas and plot summaries. For my next book you can see I’ve ordered a proof copy of how it might look in print to use for the final editing stage. This copy has been marked up by one of my test readers who has a sharp eye for my punctuation errors! Then, as I get towards considering publication, lists become essential – how lucky am I that Santa gave me a notebook designed for the purpose?
I also work as a freelance editor and have recently been editing a novel which is very different to my own books. I enjoy getting inside a plot someone else has created and fine-tuning to ensure the storytelling is strong as it can be. I apply the editing techniques to my own stories as well, but as all writers know: writing is rewriting. Always handy to have a mug to remind me of that, though. Tea is a critical part of my writing process. As are biscuits.
While I have a view of my back garden from my window, I also often find myself gazing at the noticeboard beside my desk. It’s covered in inspirational pictures, useful quotes copied onto post-it notes, and also phone numbers of people I must remember to call (apologies, that’s why I’ve had to apply soft focus!) There’s also usually a sketch of the timeline for the novel I’m working on, but that’s recently come down to allow me some blank eye-line space for dreaming up the next story.
While I fully agree with Virginia Woolf’s assertion that a woman must have a room of her own if she is to write (in her time it was more likely a male novelist already had a study), laptops have eroded that concept. I do sometimes write in cafes, libraries or on trains. The main component anyone must have if they are to write is time. But I very much value having a place to go where I can call myself a writer.
You can find out more about Katharine D’Souza and her books at www.katharinedsouza.co.uk