Monday 6 June 2011

Caroline Lawrence's UK Blog Tour - The Western Mysteries

Today is the sixth stop on Caroline Lawrence's UK Blog Tour for her new book The Case of the Deadly Desperados, the first book in her new series - The Western Mysteries.  There will be two posts today dedicated to this tour, so make sure you pop back later for more information about the book as well as a giveaway!
So I shall pass over to Caroline now, who is going to let us in on her 5 favourite places to write. 

Caroline Lawrence's Five Fave Places to Write

1. I like writing in writing workshops and seminars.

Sometimes its really useful to get fresh input from experts, guides and mentors. A weekend course on plot structure, an online class about dialogue, a week away on an Arvon course. Anything that gets me writing outside my comfort zone. On one course about ten years ago, the teacher put on a poignant violin concerto, got us to close our eyes and told us to let the music paint a scene. At first my rational, left-brain critic bridled at this command. This was not the sort of music I usually listened to. And how dare she tell me what to do. But then I thought, Just go with it. So I pushed aside my mental objections, listened to the music and let my imagination glide. Almost at once I saw a very specific scene of a funeral procession on a foggy day. I had to wait for the cortege to come close enough for me to see who was dead and it was one of my characters! I knew immediately that my subconscious was showing me a deep truth. That ten-minute session affected the entire arc of my first series of books. This is the kind of writing you do when you shake it up a little.

2. I like writing while walking.

If you were to see me walking by the river in Wandsworth, Battersea or Chelsea you wouldn't think I'm writing, but I am. Its amazing how many ideas you get when you walk. Almost every author I've ever read about or spoken to says the same thing: walking is inspirational. I love walking. Especially be the river. I'll see little scenarios played out among the passers-by or hear something interesting on the podcast I'm listening to and I have to stop and make a note. I can make a note on my iPhone and when I get back my thoughts have been emailed to me automatically. Sometimes when I have a complicated plot snarl I will walk it out. Its amazing how often the solution comes to me before I get home.

3. I like writing in coffee shops and outdoor cafes.

Watching people in coffee shops is another great way to get ideas. (And also good for a break halfway through a nice long walk.) I'm teaching myself about body language for my latest detective series so I will watch a couple or a trio and try to figure out what the relationships are. Sometimes its fun just to make up a scenario about an interesting couple. But I have to go on my own. If I go with a friend well just end up talking about films and TV. 

4. I like writing in other countries.

For over ten years I've been taking little coloured pocket notebooks with me. They are appropriately called Europa;;  and are distributed by Tollit and Harvey. These delicious little notebooks fit perfectly in the back pocket of my jeans or a side pocket of my jacket. I take them whenever I go on one of my research trips abroad and now I have about two dozen of them labelled Italy, Greece, North Africa, Turkey, Rhodes, and on and on. I don't just write down ideas in them. I do sketches and maps and make notes. I also get the contact details of any people I meet who might be able to give me advice on an aspect of my story. A notebook like this can also be a useful icebreaker. Just whip it out, go up to people and tell them you're a writer doing research. At the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival last year it was my passport to ask colourfully dressed characters what their favourite Western film was. I just got back from a research trip to California and Nevada and I made the horrible mistake of not taking one. For the first time in twelve years of being a writer I forgot. I was inundated with amazing facts and people and I had to write down all my good ideas on little scraps of paper! Argh! It's just not the same. And an iPhone is no substitute when you have lots to get down or want to look at something else while you're writing.

5. But the best place for writing is at my desk in my study!

OK, do you see what I did there? I cheated just a little. All those other types of writing were just note taking or exercises. The fact is, I can only properly write in one place. Sitting at my iMac in my writers room in my riverside flat. I've tried working on a laptop but it just doesn't feel right. My iMac is one of those where I can have at least two documents side by side. But because its so big, I can't carry it from room to room. Never mind. But I wouldn't want to. I have everything I need right here: posters on the wall in front of me, the river on my left, my iPod dock and CD rack to my right, and books all around! Its OK to be a bit obsessive when you're a writer. That's one of the things that keeps us on track.

Thank you Caroline for joining us today, I doubt I am the only one who is rather envious of your study. Also I am very tempted to invest in some of those notebooks, which I just found on Amazon too.  I feel quite inspired to write after reading about all your favourite places to write.

Make sure you come back later for an exclusive extract from the book as well as  a fabulous giveaway. 


  1. I love those notebooks. Will look on Amazon now :D
    What a beautiful view I too am envious.
    Great post - thank you both for sharing it :D

  2. Writing while walking, how lovely :D I am sometimes inspired when out and about and then I forget it

  3. Oh what great fun, and the view from the die for!!!

  4. What a nice post! The Western Mysteries sound really good! Lovely study too.

  5. Really interesting post! I love hearing about the process of writing like that. I completely agree with how great walking is for producing ideas. It's always when I'm walking (to pick up the boys from one school or another) that I come up with my best (?) ideas for my blog too.


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