Saturday, November 03, 2012

Writer's Workspace :: with Ally Blake

This weekend, the Pink Heart Society visits with Ally Blake at her place of work...  Which, as it turns out, is anywhere she wants it to be.

When I started writing my first book it was in fits and bursts. In the small moments carved out between work, and the bright fun never-ending socialising of being young, newly married, and newly moved to a gorgeous vivacious city.

I learned fast how to write in noisy cafes.  In the busy break room at work.  In our tiny home I had a tiny desk shoved in a corner of the dining room which may as well have been in the kitchen, and was surrounded with TV noise, kitchen noise, the constant comings and goings of housemates. A had one of those sets of beaded door-hangings dangling from the ceiling, an inch behind my chair - when the beads were down, thew writer was in session!

Under these conditions I wrote my first book.  At this desk I met my editor (over the phone) and learned I'd made my first sale.  At this desk I made notes about on-sale dates, pen name, what's next?

Now, ten years on, I live in a house three times the size, in a part of the world filled with gentle birdsong, and I have an actual office, a gorgeous big room with a desk and a computer, a bankers lamp and a pin board covered in inspirational quotes.  From there I'm writing this post!

But from there I do not write.

With three little kids added to the family, the sounds of home, of children, of suburban life are too much a part of my mother's DNA that I can't possibly tear myself fully enough away from the real world to immerse myself in the made up one.

Which means that early learning - to snatch time, to write anywhere and everywhere, and surrounded by white noise - serves me brilliantly.

When this writer goes to work, I go to work.   I shower.  I get dressed.  I put on make-up, and I leave the house.  Back in Melbourne where I wrote my first twenty books, and now in slumbrous sunny Brisbane where I've written my last two, I've found beautiful places outside in which to perch myself (this is overlooking our pool).  I've become a familiar face at my local libraries (most have desks, electrical outlets, WiFi - tho I purposely haven't signed up for that - way too tempting a distraction!!!)

And I've made very good friends with my local cafes.  The owners know me by name.  They know my order.  They know I'm a regular, and they so verrry kindly let me have a table to myself for 2-3 hours at a time on nothing but a strong coffee and whichever yummy cake-type-concoction takes my fancy that day.  One place, a famous Brisbane cafe found underneath a miniture Eiffel Tower, the - and I must say, gorgeous - waiters see me coming up the street, and have my order on my usual table as I sit down!

I've come to realise, that my office is where I park my laptop.  So long as I have access to my writerly comforts - my USB, my fingerless gloves, my M&Ms, coffeeeeeee - and the things I need to take me into my work in progress in a second - pictures of my characters, my phone & headphones as I tend to listen to one song over and over for each book - then I can dive into a story in a heartbeat.

Energetic noise, handsome waiters, chocolate at arms reach - those ain't distractions for this writer.  That is the stuff of inspiration!

ebook and paperback
Ally's latest novel THE WEDDING DATE is one of the RIVA relaunch novels.  Available from in paperback and ebook, and in ebook from other e-outlets.  Lucky enough to live in the UK?  You can grab a paperback from WHS.

For more about Ally's books, head to her website and follow her on twitter @ally_blake.  For more about the fab new RIVA novels, check out their FACEBOOK app.


  1. Ally, I do love the idea of gorgeous waiters scurrying to get your table and your coffee ready as you approach. Sigh. Now that's a marvellous writerly fantasy.

  2. Writing with coffee and cake. You've got me sold!

  3. Annie, it is a bit fabulous ;). The fact that they all speak in Italian half the time makes it even better!