In search of inspiration, Caroline Deacon talks to writers and illustrators about their creative space. This month features Bruna De Luca.
Having never outgrown children’s stories, Bruna graduated from Edinburgh University with a dissertation on Italian fairytales. She then went on holiday to Italy for 14 years, where she trained as a counsellor and taught local children to speak English with a Scottish twang. Back in the UK, Bruna joined SCBWI and The Golden Egg Academy and realised her interests and experiences had found a home together in writing for children, where she hopes they will live happily ever after.

Bruna's Picture Book, I’m Not Cute I’m Dangerous, illustrated by Benedetta Capriotti and published by Maverick Books, came out in the US and UK this year and was recently listed in The Sun’s Best Children’s Books of 2021.


Tell us about your creative space.


I used to write in cafés, thinking I needed the noise of coffee machines and conversation to lose myself in my writing. It also helped that no-one expected me to vault over the counter and do the washing up. At home, chores would call to me like sirens intent on dashing my WIP against the Rock of Procrastination.

Then the pandemic hit, and I had to adapt. These days I’m far happier in my little writing room, surrounded by all the nerdy bookish things I can’t resist. And my coffee’s not too bad, either.


Why does this place work for you?


Katniss, my 5-month-old kitten, helps me resist the Sirens Of The Kitchen Sink by lashing me to my seat. And, because I no longer have to be mindful of the scone-eating public, I can chat to fellow writers on Zoom writing sprints – another pandemic perk. (Check out the Write Magic group on Facebook for writerly company and accountability.)



Your creative tools - what are they and why?


Scrivener. Scrivener. Scrivener. Have I mentioned Scrivener? All my projects, from longer fiction to picture books, have their own ever-expanding folder filled with drafts and ideas and snippets and research.

Even my Mind Maps have gone digital thanks to Scapple.

I still need beautiful notebooks, of course. Lots of them. Because … well … erm … *cough cough

Do you have a routine?

I work from home even in normal circumstances, and I’m lucky to be able to dedicate a lot of time to writing, especially with both children now at school (the dry-eyed Mum in the playground with a skip in her step? That’s me!) But more time doesn’t necessarily add up to more productivity. Nothing concentrates the mind like a napping child who could wake up at any moment. These days, I need a goal to keep me in the zone - a critique swap, a competition deadline, writing coursework, something … ANYTHING!


Any particular prompts to help you get started?

After school drop-off, I head straight to my desk with a cup of coffee and, after a bit of doom-scrolling, I sign into an online writing sprint. Sprints start on the hour and, in the first five minutes, we share our writing goals, then turn videos off and come back at the end of the hour to say how we got on. People often share tips and techniques and it’s heartening to find others who get the ups and downs of writing, editing, and everything in between.


What’s the best creative advice you’ve been given?


To get involved with other writers. Joining SCBWI was the first serious step I took on road to publication. It was through meeting other children’s writers that I learned about the industry, the struggles, and the opportunities. I went on to do courses with Golden Egg and WriteMentor and have always found the communities to be just as valuable as the courses.

John Yorke’s ten story questions that Bruna
 keeps taped to her screen.


What advice would you like to give to writers/illustrators who are trying to get established?


Prepare to be in it for the long-haul, and don’t get discouraged if it takes time. I think at any stage of a writing career, there will still be a lot of waiting and rejection mixed in with the good stuff.


What was your favourite book as a child?


Fairy tales featured heavily in my early childhood, and I remember having an LP of stories by Hans Christian Andersen. I get a little jolt of joy whenever I think about it. I still love an audiobook and a dark tale or two.



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Planner or pantser?


I need a map, but I’m not meticulous enough to come up with a detailed one, so I’m somewhere in the middle – a ‘plantser’? Once I have a rough idea of where I want to go, I write my way to the roadblock I know is coming (because I haven’t worked out the details yet) and hope the solution shows up en route. Then I write to the next roadblock, and so on, and so on, until I get to The End. And then, of course, it’s back to the beginning again.


Why children?


I love the themes of family and friendship that run through children’s books, and the fun and magic and adventure that make anything possible – like a fluffy crocodile for example.

Follow Bruna on Twitter or Instagram


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 and at

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