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Shelfie: A Room of One’s Own with a View

I have a writing shed. This puts me in the top 10% of luckiest writers ever.

It’s not big, about 8-foot by 7-foot, but it’s a proper office: wired, insulated, and double glazed. The kids are forbidden. It is my private place, my room of one’s own, my head space.

My reference shelves are a disturbing snapshot of the inside of my head. Books about London. About queer history, and Victorian sexual history (You’d be amazed.). About folklore, Gothic, Victorian/Edwardian interiors, city transport systems, lost rivers, poisoners, cemeteries, fraudulent psychics, prisons and executions, alchemy, stage magic. Also, for some reason, a crossword helper.

I keep my work-in-progress books by my desk, so right now, it’s all Regency. The A-Z of Regency London (OH MY GOD, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW USEFUL THIS IS.), two London map books, four general histories, two ‘daily life’ books, two on radical politics, one on crime, a clothing resource, and a book about eighteenth-century sex. I don’t know why I ever leave this chair.

My desk stuff. On the left, a Daruma doll from Japan. It comes with blank eyes; you fill in one pupil as you make your wish and the other when it comes true. (To have my first book published, since you ask.) Next to it, a clock that is not hideous. My seven-year-old daughter bought it for me with her pocket money when I jacked in my job to go freelance and write, which makes this the loveliest clock in the world, and not a monstrosity. A mug, gift from a beloved author. A posable skeleton: when the writing does not go well he lies on the floor drinking sake from the bottle.

The blackboard wall dates from the shed’s period as a playroom, hence the decorative border, and it’s the best thing ever. I scrawl out plot problems, dates, reminders, family trees. You can get blackboard paint spray and make one yourself, if you have a spare wall lying around.

Valuable author resource: a view at which to stare blankly. The garden shed, the cat on his endless quest to kill everything. I see a lot of birds (blue tits, robins, blackbirds, magpies, the occasional jay, a million pigeons). Squirrels thunder over the shed roof and leap across to the apple tree and, on one memorable occasion, miss and faceplant on the deck. It was worth going freelance just to see that.

KJ Charles is a Rainbow Award-winning romance writer and freelance editor. She blogs about writing and publishing, spends too much time on Twitter, and has a Facebook group for book chat and sneak peeks. Her next book is The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, a Victorian occult M/M romance, coming from Samhain on June 16, 2015.

About The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal:
A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant, and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

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