Saturday, June 09, 2012

Writer's Workspace: Natalie Anderson

PHS gets an inside look at Presents Extra (and now KISS) author Natalie Anderson's workspace.

My husband built the foundations.
It’s well over five years since I sold my first book to Mills & Boon but it’s only been five months since I’ve had my own dedicated writing space.

I’ve never had an office or a study, with four children we just haven’t ever had the room. It’s always been a case of just ‘finding a spot’—and I do believe that if your desire is great enough, you can write anywhere. And given I had four preschoolers when I first sold, I learnt to write at any time too.

I worked in the corner of the bedroom. If hubby wanted to sleep, I moved to an ancient lazy-boy reclining chair in the lounge. Or to the small desk in the dining room. I wrote most of my words in the wee small hours when the rest of the family was asleep. But the more time passed, the more desperate I became to have a dedicated writing space—a place that would help me get in ‘the zone’, where I could pin up information, inspiration, character pics and timelines.

But we shifted towns for a couple of years—and moved houses twice during that period—and there was no extra room to call my own at either of those houses.

We picked up the kitset from the shipping company.
I tried really hard to find a spot—for a while I even worked in the laundry! It was a small, easy to heat room. But really, it was more cramped than small. And I found more and more I needed to escape the house—all the kid stuff everywhere, all the things I could (should) do—like housework.

So I worked a lot at the local cafĂ©—again in the evenings and on the weekends when my husband was home from work to mind the children. But my most common writing place actually became the car. I’d drive somewhere scenic, park-up and move into the back seat where there was more room and just write. My favourite spots were by the beach and the Botanic gardens. I really like being somewhere near water and ‘something green’—it makes me feel calm. But again the car was cramped—and by now, five years as a ‘professional’? I was sick of not having my own place!

Several neighbours thought it was a playhouse for the children.
But then we finally (hooray!) moved back to our own home in Christchurch—earthquakes and all it was so good to be back in our own home. There still wasn’t a spare room in the house, but we did have a bit of space in the garden—the front garden to be exact. We have a very small creek that cuts across the top corner of our section—leaving a small triangle of land on ‘the far side’. We’d planted it years before in native plants and it had become something of a jungle—not neat and tidy flower beds and lawn, it was bush and trees, dragonflies and birds. I love it.

Here in New Zealand we have a wonderful tradition of having ‘sheds’ – many men have a ‘shed’ (or ‘man cave’). My hubby has one out the back of the property, my son has a smaller one. We also have a tiny playhouse and a tree house out the back… but I wanted a garden room out the front in that triangle of land. In the heart of that tiny parkland with the water and the ducks and the very green native foliage... It would be perfect. A mini Botanical garden of my own. Several family members thought I was mad (most people don’t put sheds in the middle of their front garden). But, totally believing this was the way, I went online and searched for small portable sheds. And I found the most perfect one ever.

But no, it’s a playhouse for me!
My wonderful, wholly supportive, handy-man-hubby built the foundations and platform for it. Then, a couple of months after ordering, my kitset wooden shed arrived from Sweden(!!!) via the importer in the North Island. My best friend’s husband came round and he and my hubby put it together—it really was kitset. I think there were ten panels. They said it was like putting Lego together. In two hours it was done. Another couple of hours the next day all the glass was in the windows and there it was.

I cried.

I have a lovely view of the plants, creek and our home.
Every day when I went in there to work for that first week or three, I cried. I still cry when I think about it too long. So, SO happy!

Doesn’t it look pretty in sun and snow!
‘The Plotting Shed’ as it is now known, is just gorgeous. It’s small, but there’s room enough for my desk and chair, a beanbag for reading, a bookcase. There’s wallspace. There are gorgeous windows. There’s natural woodwork that smells delicious. There’s a small deck that fits my chair and I can sit out in the sun. there’s no wireless—no internet distraction! And there’s the view across the creek back to our home—just our cute little bungalow that I love to bits. There are ducks and birds, dragonflies, cats and an eel. There’s flowing water and greenery. I go through the garden over the stepping stones in the middle of the creek to get to the other side. That’s my ‘commute’ to work J And just this week it stood up to the first snow of winter—doesn’t it look just gorgeous?!?!

I think I’m the luckiest writer in the world to have that ‘room of my own’ – it was absolutely worth that long, long wait.

USA TODAY bestseller Natalie Anderson writes fun, frisky, feels-good contemporary romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon and Entangled Publishing. With over twenty books published, she’s also been a Romantic Times Award nominee & a finalist for the R*BY (Romantic Book of the Year).

She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband, four children and what feels like a million ducks. Find out more at her website


  1. I love your Plotting Shed. How cool!!! Thanks so much for sharing your writing space.


  2. Oooh, I'm jealous! Whilst I have a shoebox study of my own - my only requirement when we bought a house - I never get the sun and my view is of next door's wall. The garden, the sunshine, the wildlife - it's sounds like a heavenly retreat - one you well deserve!

  3. Sigh. I am still dreaming of my posh shed as an office... Still sharing with the snoring hubby. :-(

  4. Oh that is just fabulous! Mind you, after all that time you've earned it!

  5. Thanks Christine - yes, I LOVE it.

    Jo - yay to having a study tho - some space is better than no space and you could get a lovely picture on the wall to be your view!!!

    Fiona - ((hugs)) - get thee a shed in the garden pronto!!!

    Charlotte - thank you :)

  6. Natalie ~ Love the Plotting Shed ~ Thanks for the insight and I know you will keep the stories coming.

  7. Natalie - that looks amazing - I want to move into your writing space. I love hearing stories of mom writers who finally get the time and space they desire among all the family stuff - LOVE IT!

  8. Thanks Kaelee - I'm trying to! :)

    Molly - it is very cool isn't it?! Yes, finally having some daytime to write (as the twins are now at school) - it's just amazing!!!