Writer’s Desk: Alan Campbell

Alan Campbell takes us on a tour of his writing room.

We asked Tor author Alan Campbell to tell us a little about where he writes his novels. His latest entry, God Of Clocks, is out now priced at £17.99 in hardback. This is the latest in a series of articles supporting War Of The Words, the world’s greatest competition in SF literature, where you have the chance to get your own SF novel published by Tor. For more details, click here (opens in a new tab).

Alan Campbell

campbell-alanI write in our attic, which doubles as our guest bedroom, hence the bed. It’s a long narrow space filled with boxes of stuff which have been carefully shoved out of the way to give the impression of tidiness in this photo. I hoovered using Photoshop.

The chest of drawers against the back wall is one of several places throughout the flat that we use to store books. As much as I’d love a library, we don’t have the space. The wide computer screen allows me to view two pages of text side by side, as you’d read them in a book, which is handy. The speakers were liberated from a skip by a friend of mine. A local business gave me the laserjet printer for free because it didn’t work and they were going to throw it out, but I managed to fix it with a $3 spare part ordered from America, and now it works fine. This small achievement makes me inordinately proud, in a manly sort of way.

On my desk sits my Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, complete with magnifying glass to view the tiny print. I bought it in a Cancer Research shop in Marlborough. The books are outrageously heavy, and I should use them more than I do. I need the exercise.
From my window I can look across the town rooftops and see green fields and hills. Because this is Scotland, it is always raining outside. The roller blind for that window fell off, and I haven’t got round to replacing it yet. To keep the glare of the sun off my monitor, I use a large piece of cardboard that fits in there neatly. It happens to be a promotional poster for “Scar Night”, which has my name plastered across it. I find this all rather embarrassing when we have guests. It’s not vanity, honest… just laziness.

Most of the hardbacks on the bookshelves are modern first editions, or signed copies, but not valuable (yet!) Books on archaeology and yoga belong to my partner. Looking through the others, I see I’m missing a lot of my favourites, which means I’ve lent them to people and I’d forgotten about it until now. The grubby little book in the cabinet is “The Works of Aristotle, Complete Edition with Engravings” published in 1779. It’s not worth much, but I like it because it’s so old and because it has that musty earth-and-spice smell that you find in dark little second hand bookshops.

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