In search of inspiration, Caroline Deacon invites established writers and illustrators to tell us about their creative space. This month she talks to Annaliese Avery. 

Annaliese Avery

Annaliese Avery was one of 2020’s SCBWI Undiscovered Voices. Her debut The Nightsilver Promise was published by Scholastic in the UK in May 2021 and in the US in February 2022, followed by the sequel, The Doomfire Secret, published in the UK in April 2022. A former Library Manager and editor for The Golden Egg Academy, Annaliese has a rich history of interacting with stories. Annaliese is also an advocate for reading for pleasure and lifelong learning.

The Nightsilver Promise by Annaliese Avery

Tell us about your creative space.

I have two places that I tend to work – in my study, which is right at the top of the house in the attic and is freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer, and in the summer house, which backs onto the river and is always on the cool side but also often floods! In the past, I used to write on the train on the way to work and then in my lunch break. I’m lucky that I can pretty much write wherever I am as long as I have my earphones to block out the world around me and my writers journal to help me keep track of where I am and the progress I’m making.

One of Annaliese's creative spaces at home

Your creative tools - what are they and why?

I am a complete stationery addict and tech geek. I love my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. I love that they all talk to each other and I can put something in one place and find it in all the others! I love Lamy fountain pens and have a ridiculously large collection of them. I use them in my writing journals. I recently found Archer and Olive dot grid journals and I am completely in love with them. My current writing journal is an Archer and Olive blackout journal – I’ve used these in the past for my Astrojournaling but this is the first time as a writing journal – I like the way the gel pens are bold on the black paper.

Annaliese uses a writing journal to track her progress

Do you have a routine?

I’m still trying to work out a healthy writing routine. I’m terrible at taking breaks and I tend to spend far too long at my desk. Getting the right balance of writing and life is definitely something that I need to work on.

Do you need particular prompts to get started?

As I mentioned earlier I need my earphones – I grew up in quite a noisy house and used to study while listening to music – I’ve found that my focus is better when I have music playing. I like a broad mix of music while I write and if I’m not in the mood for music then I listen to the warp core from Star Trek Next Generation – there’s something quite soothing about it.


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

The best creative advice that I’ve ever been given came from the very wonderful S.F. Said. He said, 

 Don’t write to be published, write because you have a story to tell.

I think that we often get quite focused on being published and it becomes the stick that we measure our success by, but actually, if we focus on writing a story that we love and do that to the very best of our ability, we will have succeeded. There is very little in the publishing industry that we as writers have control over but this bit, the writing, the story, this is where our power lies.

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


Learn your craft, never stop learning it. Have fun with the things you write, tell the stories that keep you up at night. Learn to let go of the things that do not serve you or are not in your control, embrace the things that are. Write the very best story you possibly can, learn from that experience, then be bold – send it out into the world. Start another one, give that just as much love and attention. Keep growing towards your goals, and believe that as long as you move within your power, as long as you learn your craft and write the stories that make your soul sing then you are succeeding.

What was your favourite book as a child?


I preferred nonfiction books as a young child, I read a lot of books about ancient history and science. I collected Quest magazine, it was a fortnightly publication all about science with craft projects and experiments for you to try as well as a huge wall poster. I loved them and collected them all. When I was in the first year of senior school my English teacher gave me a copy of The Hobbit to read and I was hooked on fantasy fiction after that.

What is your favourite ‘how to’ book about writing and/or illustrating and why?


I love Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert for tapping into that creativity. Orson Scott Card wrote a very valuable short book titled How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy that I found very valuable along with Jeff Vandermeer’s Wonderbook. When editing I like to use some of the techniques from Darcy Pattison’s Novel Metamorphosis

Does walking or exercise help the creative process, and if so, what do you do and why?


I always feel a bit more creative after I’ve had a walk. I think having that time to wander and wonder is important. Fellow writer and CEO of Action Your Potential
 Andrew Wright has devised the 12 rocks of wellbeing – they work well for everyone but especially creatives. I try to do as many of the 12 rocks as I can in a day and wander and wondering are two of them.

What about food and drink - what must you have at hand in order to be able to create? Coffee, biscuits, chocolate…


I like a nice big pot of fruit tea or a flavoured water while I’m writing. I can often get sucked into the writing and I forget to drink, which is not great. I’m trying not to reward myself with food at the moment; over lockdown there have been many biscuits and cakes consumed at my desk with not enough moving about in between.

Do you plan, or do you create by the seat of your pants, or is it a mixture of both?


I tend to do a bit of planning and a bit of pantsing. I like to know where the story is going but I trust my characters and leave it up to them to get there – usually they have much better ideas about what is happening to them than I do.

What inspired you to first start writing/illustrating?


I started writing as part of my BA and I really enjoyed it, then it just started to creep up on me. I can’t remember when I started jotting things down, when the ideas got too big and noisy to occupy my head alone – but I remember the moment when I realised that I was supposed to be a writer and it was a moment of revelation. I was ironing at the time and thinking about all these characters who had set up home in my imagination and were eagerly telling me about their lives and the worlds that they came from and, all of a sudden, I realised why they were there – I was a writer! Luckily I slapped my head with the hand that didn’t have the iron in it!

And why children?


I don’t think I ever consciously chose an audience for the stories. I think, like most creative endeavours, stories come along already knowing what they are going to be even if we the creatives haven’t glimpsed that bit about them yet. I think my creativity is predisposed to lean towards writing for children because it asks lots of questions, it likes to explore and investigate and find things out. I am so glad that I do write for children but that doesn’t mean that I will only ever write for them; a story might come along that wants to be told to an older audience and, when it does, I’m sure my imagination will listen and act accordingly.

What question do you most like being asked about your work?


Would you like an extension on your deadline?

Which is your least favourite question?


Is it ready yet?



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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