Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Where Writers Write: Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series that features authors as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

Samantha is the author of The Art of Devotion, an Examiner and Bookreporter Best Book of 2010, and The Westhampton Leisure Hour and Supper Club. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, she holds a Master of Arts with Honors in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. A former Random House and BBC literary editor, she divides her time between New York and Edinburgh, where she is currently reading for a PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Edinburgh.

Where Samantha Bruce-Benjamin Writes

I write at my antique writing desk, which I bought at an estate sale in Westhampton, NY, during the drafting stage of my latest novel, The Westhampton Leisure Hour and Supper Club. It’s French and elegant and lovingly worn, the perfect spot for my computer and the greyhound book ends that hold my writing notebooks, which remind me of one of my favorite characters from my first novel, The Art of Devotion.  There’s something about the delicate brass ribbons adorning the legs that simply delights me, as well as my curiosity about who other than I once sat at my desk, over the years. All authors are the sum of their parts, owing everything to our literary forebears, so I often to like to think that maybe a previous owner attempted a novel at the desk I now own, or else wrote letters that are lovingly kept in a box in someone else’s house, artifacts of a bygone era and life.

Although my handwriting is now illegible, I still envy those writers who spent their days writing in long hand, and so I keep my best pen – a gift from a reader upon the publication of The Art of Devotion – close at hand, to scrawl thoughts in my notebooks, all of which have a sentimental value, as they are often books I bought on holiday, or else gifts from friends and relatives.

I keep relatively little on my desk, as it is rather cramped. Yet, each item is a touchstone to my personal history and, in their small ways, inform everything I attempt in my novels: from the history of my desk, to the memory of a friend who inspired a beloved character in The Art of Devotion, to the gratitude I feel when I look at my notebooks and pen to know that I am supported in my chosen career. Every time that I sit down to write there, I feel lucky to be a writer in my small corner of the house. And, one day, I would like to think that somebody will feel the same happiness when my desk passes on to a new owner and, perhaps, another story is told.

But by far the nicest thing about where I write is my little dog, Geordie Beau, sitting at my feet.  When he is not barking, he is the perfect cheerleader for every page of prose I attempt.  

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