In search of inspiration, Caroline Deacon invites established writers and illustrators to tell us about their creative space. This month features Alice Broadway, whose first novel, Ink was one of the bestselling UKYA novels of 2017.

Alice's beautiful standing desk

Tell us about your creative space. 
My official writing space is a corner in our sitting room. I have an old desk that my husband rescued from a school, and a standing desk made for me by Striped Wood. In the pictures everything looks sparse and beautiful - the truth is, I am very messy and I think that's probably an indelible part of me. When I'm at my desk, the stool I sit on has wheels because I'm always needing to wriggle and move about. The day to day reality is that I often end up with the laptop on my knee while I sit in a comfy chair or, if things are busy at home, I'll work in a cafe.

Why does this work for you?
I need LOTS of options - I'm not great at routine and I get distracted very easily. It's great for me to have a few different options for where I write. The challenge is always to actually go there and get working.

Do you need particular prompts to get started?
For each of my books so far I've had a candle that 'feels right' - so, for Scar, I had a candle by St Eval called Ember. I prefer silence or listening to ambient coffee shop sounds. Other than that, I can pretty much do whatever.

Your creative tools - what are they? 

My laptop is my main tool and I love it very much. It's been very trustworthy so far! For my latest project, I have a beautiful blue notebook and I write in it with an ink pen with matching turquoise ink. I also use a timer as I find it helps if I write in bursts.

Do you have a routine? 
I wish I did! I'm still trying to work out what works and so far, I think that going with the flow is the right approach for me. That means that I may have weeks of not writing and then a really intense burst. I'm still discovering.

What is the best creative advice you’ve been given? 
Being told 'pursue your weird obsessions' was the thing that lit the fuse for the idea of Ink. It was after watching a documentary about Ancient Egypt death practices that I started dreaming up the story. I really need to be passionate about what I write about and if my starting point is an area I'm fascinated by then I know I'm onto a good thing.

I also believe strongly that creating should not be at the expense of the creator. I think it can be a fight to ensure that writing doesn't cost the writer more than it should.

What was your favourite book as a child? 
I was given a book of myths and legends when I was seven and it consumed me. I still read it and I think it's one of the big influences in my own writing. I was also obsessed with Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl.

What is your favourite ‘how to’ book?
I've recently listened to The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr and I think it is exceptional. It's not a 'how-to' as much as a 'why we think in stories' book.

Alice enjoying a great cup of tea 

What must you have at hand in order to be able to create? 
Tea. ALL the tea.

What question do you most like being asked about your work? 
Well, I've really enjoyed these ones!

 Which is your least favourite question? 
 Where I get my ideas - it's not a bad question, it's just that I don't know the answer.

Caroline Deacon lives in Edinburgh and is the author of several childcare books. She now writes MG and YA and is agented by Lindsay Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates, Edinburgh. Find her on Twitter @writingdilemmas and at

The header image is by Emma Graham, a Hook finalist at the 2016 SCBWI BI conference and a finalist in The Stratford Literary Festival picture book competition 2017. Emma's first illustrated book, Symphony Hollow, was written by Jessica Reino and published by Spork. She is commissioned illustrator for The Children’s Appeal at Ipswich hospital creating illustrations for publicity, charity events and the refurbished children’s ward. 

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