Where Stories Are Made is back for 2018 and my very first guest for the year is Louise Allan, whose debut novel, The Sisters’ Song, has just been released. Louise is an amazing photographer so her pictures of her writing spaces are to die for. Plus, you can also win a signed copy of her book just by commenting on the post below. Best of luck and I hope you enjoy meeting Louise!
1. My stories are made …
At home in my attic is my favourite place to write, although, through necessity, I’ve learnt to write anywhere. I’ve written at music lessons, while waiting in a car, and at airports and on planes. I once made a short video about my writing spaces.
But my best thinking place is my attic. It’s a fairly typical attic, upstairs, with sloping ceilings and a gable window. I have a built-in desk and bookshelves and, as I work, I can look out the window over vivid greenery and daydream.
2. My stance on notebooks is …
I love my notebooks and have about half-a-dozen on the go at any one time. I’m incredibly boring with my choice of cover and brand—they’re all black Moleskines. One of them is my journal, in which I write my sporadic-but-meant-to-be-daily musings. I have a notebook for writing groups, another one with notes for essays I want to write, and one for my novel. I have seven journals devoted to writing ‘The Sisters’ Song’ alone.
3. I am … tidy or messy?
My desk is neat and tidy—I can’t write when I’m surrounded by a mess. The messiest my desk has ever been was while editing my novel this year. I had sticky notes everywhere, covering most of the surface of my desk. The notes were handy, though, and as I completed each one I enjoyed peeling them off and tossing them in the recycling bin!
4. I like … noise or silence?
I love silence and I love an empty house! Natural sounds, like birds, rain or wind, tend to help my writing—there’s nothing better than writing during a storm. In suburbia, of course, there’s always the drone of traffic, or a blower or buzzsaw. Of a weekend, there’s the noise of the TV, my kids and my husband’s music.
I wanted to write about the bush at one point in my novel, so I played a CD of Tasmanian birds. Whatever I’m listening to seems to influence what I write about—if it’s bird noises, they permeate the text. If it’s music, whatever mood that evokes tends to spill onto my page.
5. On my desk, I must have …
I must have a glass of water and, usually, a cup of coffee. I like to have my notebooks, my pens, a pencil and a rubber within reach, too. And I love having flowers and a candle nearby—just to lift my spirits.
6. My walls are covered in …
Bookshelves, my degrees, my certificate from when I was shortlisted for the Hungerford Award, and a corkboard with notices. I also have this:
Until today, I’ve not told anyone that I have a giant print of the cover of my book on my wall because I’m too embarrassed. But, I figure I might never have another book published, so I’m determined to make the most of this one!
7. I love my writing space because …
It’s light and airy, and even though it’s not that large, it feels spacious. I’d love to take out the modern built-ins and furnish it in keeping with the older style of our house, but for now, it will do.
Win A Copy of The Sisters’ Song
Set in rural Tasmania from the 1920s to the 1990s, The Sisters’ Song traces the lives of two very different sisters. One for whom giving and loving are her most natural qualities and the other who cannot forgive and forget.
As children, Ida loves looking after her younger sister, Nora, but when their beloved father dies in 1926, everything changes. The two girls move in with their grandmother who is particularly encouraging of Nora’s musical talent. Nora eventually follows her dream of a brilliant musical career, while Ida takes a job as a nanny and their lives become quite separate.
The two sisters are reunited as Nora’s life takes an unwelcome direction and she finds herself, embittered and resentful, isolated in the Tasmanian bush with a husband and children.
Ida longs passionately for a family and when she marries Len, a reliable and good man, she hopes to soon become a mother. Over time, it becomes clear that this is never likely to happen. In Ida’s eyes, it seems that Nora possesses everything in life that could possibly matter yet she values none of it.
Over a span of seventy years, the strengths and flaws of motherhood are revealed through the mercurial relationship of these two very different sisters. ‘The Sisters’ Song’ speaks of dreams, children and family, all entwined with a musical thread that binds them together.
To win a copy of Louise Allan’s gorgeous book, just leave a comment below! Which part of Louise’s writing space did you like best or can you most relate to? Winer will be drawn by random number generator at midday on Feb 2nd, 2018.