THE WRITE PLACE – Where I write, and what I do when I’m not writing by Cathy Ace

In the first of an occasional series, we ask our Crime Cymru authors to offer us a glimpse of the place where they write. This week, Cathy Ace invites us into her workspace and beautiful garden in her home in Canada.

Hello folks! So, here I am in my workspace (more details will follow on exactly what’s surrounding me, below). Yes, I realize this looks very much like a dining table, and that’s because it is. I’ve written my last three books at this table, rather than in my office. Why? Well, to be honest, the view is better from the dining table than through my office window which – at this time of year (I am writing this in August) – is  pretty much a wall of roses, which are lovely, but I prefer the wider expanse of the front garden (below) as my ‘eye relaxation exercise’.

This is the view I look up to see through the window in front of me; I’m very lucky to live where I do and – as you can see – my husband and I do a LOT of work in the garden! I live on five acres, half-way up a little mountain about 40 miles outside Vancouver, Canada; I migrated to Canada to teach the marketing elements of the MBA course at the University of British Columbia about 20 years ago, and this is now my home. My mum and sister are still in Swansea and I speak to them every day: I miss them, and I miss Wales, but travel just isn’t possible at the moment, so I’m enjoying the unusual experience of being at home for more than a month at a time. We’re all staying as safe as we can during the pandemic so that I can get back to Wales as soon as possible. My husband’s also from Swansea, so we keep up to date on everything that’s going on back there via our widespread family links.

In case you’re interested, here’s the garden behind the house – I’m the tiny figure waving my arms about. Yes, we do a LOT of work in the garden…LOL…but it’s worth it!

By the numbers…

1. We have a small collection of Pacific Northwest art. These printed, woven, and carved items have been gathered together over time, and are all displayed on one wall, which happens to be behind me when I write. As someone who finds drawing a stick-person a bit of a challenge, I greatly admire the abilities of the artists who have created these pieces, all of whom reside/resided within a couple of hundred miles of my home.

2. Copy of Admiral Sir Henry Morgan by Terry Breverton (pub. Wales Books). The Corpse with the Crystal Skull (Cait Morgan Mysteries #9, published June 2020) features the famed Panamanian treasure of Captain Henry Morgan; he’s always fascinated me, and I got to weave a few threads about him into this new book, which is set in Jamaica and mixes treasure hunting with Fleming/Bond lore! It was great fun to write, and the research allowed me to justify rereading all the Bond books and novellas, and everything I can lay my hands on about Morgan, as well as writing about Jamaican food and drink, which has made me crave it! You might also be able to spot my coffee coaster, which shows the cover of the T.Rex album The Slider…I was, and always shall be, a HUGE T.Rex fan, and Marc Bolan is beside me every day.

3. and 4. Draft #1 to draft #2, then draft #3 to draft #4 of The Corpse with the Crystal Skull. Lumpy, and not pretty, but it’s all a part of the process! I really enjoy writing a first draft, then slog my way through the edits. This photo shows I’m not very good at clearing things away after I’ve finished a book… all this paperwork needs filing!

5. Copy of Cait Morgan Mystery #8, The Corpse with the Ruby Lips, which I needed to match for formatting. Now that I am indie-publishing this series, I decided to match what the original traditional publisher used for formatting the cover and interior, so the volume was close at hand for reference (and now needs to be put back onto the bookshelf!).

6. My trusty Filofax, and a set of table mats that mean a great deal to me. First up, yes, I do still have, and use, a Filofax. This is the one I used in the 1990s; it’s lost one of its brass corner protectors, but does its job well enough despite that damage. During these weird times I am trying to stick to my normal working routine, but I’m also trying to reach one ‘In Real Life Friend’ each day on the phone, for a check-in and catch-up. All their numbers are in my Filofax, and, yes, some have been there since the early 1990s.

The table mats? I picked them out at a little shop in St. Paul de Vence, not far from Nice, in 2001. In the autumn of 2001 Husband and I got engaged in Amsterdam, where we celebrated with Dutch friends, then flew to Nice, where I used to live, for a party with French friends, (sidebar lunch in Monte Carlo with some extra friends), then had another dinner with some British friends just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, before flying back to Canada to celebrate with family here. (Yes, I’ve always traveled a LOT!) Every day I touch these table mats and vividly recall the sights and sounds of the south of France, which I miss desperately…but at least it’s forever in my heart and at my fingertips 🙂

I’ve always believed I’m the luckiest person alive…and being able to write this blog just confirms that for me. These are difficult times for everyone. Some, like me, have it so, SO easy. I get to sit here, writing, creating, connecting, and being supported by family and friends. I don’t have to be out there risking my life every day in a frontline or support role. I don’t have to wonder when I’ll get to feel the grass beneath my feet again, or experience the joy of truly fresh air. I am the luckiest person alive. And I never, ever take that for granted.

If you haven’t already tried my books, here’s the new one (The Cait Morgan Mysteries have been optioned for TV by the company – Free@LastTV – that makes the Agatha Raisin series, so I’m crossing my fingers that Cait, who’s Welsh Canadian like me, will find her way to your screen sometime in the not-too-distant-future!) so maybe you’d like to consider trying them now? You can find out more about me, and all my books here:

Stay safe, Cathy x

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