Monday, July 2, 2018

Where Writers Write: Marshall Moore

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

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors 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 Marshall Moore. 

He is the author of four novels (InhospitableBitter OrangeAn Ideal for Living, and The Concrete Sky) and three short-fiction collections (A Garden Fed by LightningThe Infernal Republic, and Black Shapes in a Darkened Room). With Xu Xi, he is the co-editor of the anthology The Queen of Statue Square: New Short Fiction from Hong Kong. His short stories have appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Asia Literary ReviewThe Barcelona Review, and many other journals and anthologies. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University in the UK, and he teaches English and Creative Writing at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. For more information, please visit

Where Marshall Moore Writes

I seem to move a lot. Here in Hong Kong, where I’ve spent the last ten years, I’ve lived in five apartments. I’d buy one but they’re too expensive. As a result, once the landlord raises the rent to an amount I refuse to pay, I find someplace new. My current one, in the Hung Hom district of Kowloon (which is the Brooklyn to Hong Kong Island’s Manhattan, but perhaps not as hip), is terrific: huge windows, lots of light, a view of Victoria Harbour. I have a long L-shaped living/dining room, and my writing alcove (I don’t really call it that) occupies the base of the L. I would prefer a room with a door I could shut, but the view almost makes up for it.

In order to get any writing done, I need quiet and solitude. Once upon a time, I could listen to music and write. I got the second draft of my novel The Concrete Sky done in a hotel room in New Orleans, listening to a lot of late-’90s French disco (Daft Punk, Cassius, Mirwais) and scaring the maids by staying in all day to work. I think they thought I was a vampire. I used to write on planes, too. I wrote one chapter of that book in a departure lounge at Narita, and probably some of it either over the Pacific or on the flight down to Singapore. The way I work changed when I was writing my second novel An Ideal for Living. I was in a failing relationship then, and there were constant interruptions. My cortisol levels have never recovered, so today I absolutely cannot have other people around while I’m trying to work. I’ve done some good work in hotel rooms, but -- forgive the cliche -- there’s no place like home.

The cat, nicknamed the Fur Bomb for reasons that are probably obvious, helps by broadcasting fluffy cuteness and keeping me from disappearing too far into my own head. My ideal writing day starts with breakfast at my desk (where else?) and a pot of coffee. By mid-afternoon, it’s time for lunch, and if everything has gone well, I will (a) have gotten a decent amount of work done, whether creative or academic, and (b) not have spoken to anyone other than the cat. Weather permitting, I’ll take a break and go to the gym. Sometimes, I’ll work in the evening as well, but if I’ve depleted myself for the day, I’ll do other things.

I have nothing but respect for authors who can work in cafes. One part of me wishes I could. Some great books have been written with the help of supportive baristas and endless cups of coffee or tea. But while I’m in this flat, here’s where the work gets done, and when my landlord jacks the rent up, which he will, then my next writing room will be totally different.

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