Tania McCartney is an energetic and versatile author and kids’ book blogger. She is the author of the Riley the Little Aviator travelogue picture books and she runs Kids Book Review, the go-to site for books to read your small-fries. Here, she invites us into her beautiful writing space and shares the objects and ideas that inspire her.
Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?
My latest book – Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline (National Library of Australia) – was written in two chairs; the one I’m sitting on now and one at the National Library. I spent a huge amount of time researching this book, and much of it was spent scouring the NLA’s massive digital collection online. Thankfully I could do much of this from home – and this is where I work best.
For me, having an ideal space to write really helps with creative flow. I can pretty much write anywhere but I do prefer my study. It faces north onto our front garden and is flooded with sunlight. I think it’s so important to have items around to inspire you, and so I have photos, artwork, kids’ drawings, objects from my travels, and of course – lots and lots of books. I really love the silence of my study. Just the clack of the keyboard and me. I rarely play music unless I’m working on visual elements of a book, and if I do, it’s either classical, vintage jazz or movie soundtracks.
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you ‘get into character’ at all?
The only transformation that really goes on is the paperwork shuffle. I often do mock-ups of my books as I write them, so I have layouts, sketches and research books around me.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
It’s such an efficient study, it hasn’t really needed improvement. It has evolved to include a treadmill for that dreaded writer’s curse – extra padding on the nether regions! Of course, I’ve added more of my books to the shelves as each one is released, and I’m always adding new things that inspire me – notes and drawings from my kids, friends or school students. My collection of picture books and magazines has also piled up somewhat and I do need a new chair but, otherwise, I love it just the way it is.
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
I write every weekday, from around 8am to 4pm and perhaps half the weekend. If I’m on deadline, I write into the night but, generally, I try not to. I’m trying to strike a better balance this year between ‘work’ and life, but for the most part, these two sides of my life combine pretty seamlessly. I couldn’t imagine a day without writing something. I write whilst travelling, eating, having my hair done . . .
|Tania McCartney’s latest book: Australian Story, An Illustrated Timeline.|
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
Coffee! And I always have a really high-nutrition breakfast. Through the day, I find little bouts of yoga really relax my body and mind, helping me ‘settle’ into things. And if I do get stuck, I just push on through. It’s miraculous what can happen when you push on through.
Thanks Tania. So good to have you in The Writer’s Studio. Next week Chris Morphew‘s (Phoenix Files, Zac Power) in to share his space.