I have a perfectly lovely study which my husband built for me tacked on to the end of the house. He calls it a shed because the walls are wooden but they rest on low brick walls and the room is integral to the rest of the house. The views all round are over the garden and its very quiet and peaceful at the back of house.
So where do I write? In coffee bars all over London. Insane, I know. But there is something about packing up the Netbook and the USB stick, jamming the freedom pass into a pocket and taking off down the road which kicks starts all the creative juices. Coming downstairs and switching on the computer in the same building, without even going outside, doesn't really do it for me.
I’ve written four novels in the Costa in Golders Green and the same barista, Marie, was there when Hidden was published. They’ve passed it round under the counter for a couple of years.
But in the past year I’ve been branching out. I now regularly meet Sue Hyams at the Royal Festival Hall. She is a member so we have the privileges of the Members Room on the Sixth Floor overlooking the Thames. We sit opposite each other tapping away happily on our laptops, telling ourselves we've gone out for a day’s work at the office!
My latest find is the Costa in Covent Garden, tucked away behind Neale Street. Now that really feels like an outing. I go early in the morning, grab my fave table and by the time the lunchtime crowd have built up, I've done my chapters and I'm ready for a stroll. There are so many lovely places to wander around in town it feels like a proper day out.
I've written in cafes and at pavement tables all over the world. I’m not distracted by the buzz of people around me and only occasionally do I find the choice of music annoying. There is something about other people’s lives, alongside mine but not encroaching, which keeps me focused. I like the feeling that I am out in the world and not shut up at home but I'm writing.
Of course I do write in my study and there are days I simply don’t want to go out. But I've been writing in coffee bars since I was a teenager. I don’t think I will be kicking the habit any time soon.