Saturday, March 17, 2012

Writer's Workspace: Louise Allen

PHS is delighted to welcome award winning Historical Author Louise Allen and have a sneak peek at her fabulous writing space.

Hello to everyone at the Pink Heart Society – and thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit and share my working space with you.

A year ago we moved to a cottage on the North Norfolk coast – beautiful countryside and a lovely place to be. The only problem was that it has half the number of bedrooms of our previous house and lots and lots of windows and the site is very tricky for an extension.

The windows are perfect for admiring the view, but they mean that the wall space for bookcases is severely reduced and I was reluctant to sacrifice a bedroom to my desk and over a thousand reference books.

My husband said I needed a shed in the garden. I – with dreams of grandeur – retorted that I required a scriptorium and a library. What we settled on was what the builders rapidly learned to call The Studio when I was within earshot and what my husband still insists on referring to as The Shed.

It is in the back garden with a view, once I had strategically pruned the holly tree, of our lovely village church. Inside it was insulated to within an inch of its life (looking north from the beach the next land is Siberia), lined with timber, centrally heated and fitted out with as many bookshelves as I could get in, my desk and an antique pine chest of drawers for my author copies and to act as a stand for the big Georgian dolls’ house that we made. I found a remnant of a toile de jouy showing George III and his family in the grounds of Windsor Castle on Ebay and that made suitably historical curtains and Roman blinds.

I have the phone and – strategic mistake – the internet so I can prevaricate with endless browsing when I get stuck with the current novel. I keep asking for a flag hoist so I can signal “Send tea”, but so far my husband seems strangely reluctant to put one up.

I’m not a plotter or a planner so I make notes in a file on the PC as I go along and don’t have the impressive pin boards or systems that more organised writers use. But I do accumulate a teetering pile of reference books from the shelves behind me as I work and I will pin up maps. The A-Z of Regency London and Titles & Forms of Address are fixtures on the desk, others come and go.

Also on the desk is a Victorian copy of  the statue of The Dying Gaul – the model for the hero of my book Virgin Slave, Barbarian King; the star I won for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Love Story of the Year last year (for The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst) and a reproduction of a fragment from a Greek statue. The beautifully modelled male lips are an inspiration when I write a love scene!

The bookshelves around the desk hold my historical reference library, those on the other side house novels, copies of my own books and my ever-expanding collection of Regency prints and ephemera. The large volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary are far enough away to make me get up and achieve a little exercise hefting them off the shelves.

There is just a little space left for a few more books but I fear I may be planning an extension soon! Where is your most productive place to work? Facing a wall with no distractions or with a lovely view to relax – and distract – you?

Louise Allen lives in Norfolk, England and often sets novels there and in her home county of Hertfordshire. She is currently working on her 44th title for Harlequin Mills & Boon Historicals and her Danger & Desire trilogy –Ravished by the Rake, Seduced by the Scoundrel and Married to a Stranger – is out February through April in the States. She is also the author of a practical walking guide – Walks Through Regency London – available from her website where she loves to share images from her collection of Regency prints. Twitter @LouiseRegency


  1. That looks like a lovely place to work. I wonder why so many historical novels are set in Regency times and not in Elizabethan or Victorian times? Now that steampunk is here, we might get more Victorian stories now.

    1. Hi Maria. Regency seems to be popular internationally - perhaps the success of Austen adaptations has helped? I love the period because it is such a transition between "old" England and the industrial world of the Victorians. I must admit that the clothes and the gentlemens' sidewhiskers put me off the Victorians

  2. What a lovely studio! If only I could figure out how to put one on a second floor flat...

    I work at my dining table in the living room. I can see out of a window to the building opposite. Not much to distract me.

  3. It sounds like Rigsby in Rising Damp' - 'Nothing between us and the Urals'. What a lovely studio to work in.