It’s summer, and the long afternoons and change of routine for many of us leads us to read outside – by the pool on holiday maybe, or in the garden. What I like to do though is write outside. I have created several little nooks in my garden, and lurk there under trees, scribbling away in a notebook with a cup of tea on the table and a dog at my feet.
I love writing in my study, surrounded by my books, but there is something about being outside that makes me feel somehow more alive, and more connected with the world. I am very lucky – behind my garden, there is a field. Beyond the field is a huge forest. It is 360 hectares, and has been a woodland since ancient times. Most of the very old trees were felled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to build ships and for building bridges, but some still remain. Many conifers were planted for wood, and parts of the forest are dark and still, like fairy tale woods. I like to take my books and sit among the trees and write.
I also love writing on the beach. My favourite place is at Cullercoats Bay, on an outcrop of rocks overlooking the ocean. I am writing a story about a sea witch, and the spray of the waves and the taste of salt on my lips helps me to ‘enter’ the story.
I have always liked to write in places that inspire me. When I was writing Walking with Witches, I wrote in the fantastic library at The Literary and Philosophical Society, where part of the story is set; I also wrote at Newcastle Castle Keep where the women accused of witchcraft were imprisoned. When I was writing a ghost story set at a railway station, I rode round on the trains, taking in the atmosphere as I made notes.
If you like to write – and you probably do, if you are reading this blog – think about stepping away from your laptop. PC or tablet this week and taking an old-fashioned notebook into the Great Outdoors – you might just find yourself truly inspired!