We asked Tor author Tim Stretton to tell us a little about where he writes his novels. His latest book, Dog Of The North, is out now priced at £7.99 in paperback. 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).
If this looks like a featureless expanse, it’s because that’s exactly what it is. I write in my garage, in a space designed as far as possible to remove any external extraction. I face a blank corner; the computer is not connected to the internet; and comforts of all sorts are kept to a minimum. With only a limited amount of time to write, I need to be focused in the space. I have a few note pads for jottings, some old reproductions of medieval maps and–for when I’m not writing mode–a copy of Football Manager. But I only play that when I’m not supposed to be writing–honest!
The garage is also where most of my books are kept. This is the history section, which is arranged in broadly chronological order. While I’m not an historical novelist, I draw a lot of my inspiration from the past. John Julius Norwich’s mighty history of Venice, next to the antique globe, is particularly valuable: Venice was a big inspiration for The Dog of the North, and Norwich’s wry take on historical events and his breezy style make his books firm favourites. Liza Picard’s three social histories of London are great for telling details, like how cosmetics used to be made, and the biographies of Elizabeth I only scratch the surface of my Tudor library.
My fiction shelves are also arranged alphabetically, and here we some of my many Jack Vance books. Vance has been the biggest single influence on my writing, and I have everything he’s ever written. The shelf above abuts Tolstoy and Tolkien, although philistine that I am, I’ve got more out of the latter than the former.
My really treasured books are kept in the house. The lower shelf here includes part of my “Vance Integral Edition”, a 44-volume complete edition of Jack Vance’s work, restored from original evidence to root out editorial interference. It’s especially cherished because I was part of the team which spent six years preparing the volumes – a real labour of love. On the top shelf are all 20 volumes of Patrick O’Brian’s awesome Aubrey-Maturin series. O’Brian’s command of the 19th century idiom, his adroit handling of the comic and the tragic, and his rich depth of characterisation, make him one of the 20th century’s best novelists. On my indoor shelves he’s next to my much-thumbed hardbacks of The Lord of the Rings and a beautiful pocket-sized set of Jane Austen’s novels.
Those two shelves together would probably be the books I’d take to a desert island.