Monday, January 21, 2019

Where Writers Write: Kate Vane

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 Kate Vane. 

She lives in Devon, in the UK. She worked for a number of years as a probation officer. She started writing crime fiction because she thought made-up criminals would be easier to manage (she sound found she was wrong).

Her latest novel is Brand New Friend. You can find out more about Kate and her writing at

Where Kate Vane Writes

I start my day at my favourite café. They all know me there and have my llama milk latte ready when I arrive. I take my noise-cancelling headphones and listen to the calls of baby dolphins as I type. In the afternoon I rent a space at a trestle table in a converted tannery. The networking opportunities are great if you can get past the smell –

Actually, none of that is true. I work at home. I have a desk, a proper keyboard, an adjustable computer chair and a footrest.

Here’s a picture of my desk. I have headphones there because sometimes I dictate. That’s partly to take a break from typing but also because I find it uses a different part of the brain. One that can’t spell, mostly. I have a timer because I use the Pomodoro method (timed sprints) for writing. It’s one of the few productivity hacks I’ve tried that actually works.

I’d like to say that Robert McKee’s Story is there for inspiration but mainly it’s there because it’s just the right height. (Although it’s a great book and I’ve read it several times. It makes the physics of story structure seem comprehensible and clear, at last until I try to apply it to my own work.)

My workspace looks very much like the office that I was so keen to leave behind. Why so bleakly utilitarian? Firstly for the good of my health. I want to have a long writing career and not ruin my back by writing hunched over a laptop on a sofa. An employer would have to provide decent equipment (here in the UK anyway) so why treat myself less well than they would?

I understand why writers like to go somewhere else to work. Being at home is boring and there’s no one to talk to. Those are the very reasons why I like it. It’s a kind of anti-inspiration. I am forced to fill the emptiness with what’s inside my head.

If I did go to a café or a funky shared workspace I would be distracted all the time. I’d think, why bother writing when I could be watching and eavesdropping on all these other humans or even (out on a limb here) talking to them? I can write at home.

I save the inspiration for my breaks. I live in a small town in a beautiful part of England, on the Devon coast. I can see the sea from my window (I do allow myself to look at it) and love to walk along the beach.

You can just make out the train line which runs along the sea wall. This was the idea of 19th century genius and engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It means that this rail journey, along the Exe Estuary into the cathedral city of Exeter, is world famous for its stunning views.

It also means that the trains can’t run for several days a year when spring tides batter the tracks and the alternative is a slow, expensive bus ride that twists and turns through the narrow lanes and gives me motion sickness.

My workspace might look like an office, but at least I don’t have to commute.

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