Writers' Rooms: Linda L. Richards

Linda L. Richards

(c) Richards

I’m not about the place where I write. I’m not about the space. I don’t know why this should be so, but it is.

I’m one of those people: I can write on a plane. I can write in a hotel room, a café. A bus. And I work on a laptop—though longhand works in a pinch—and so even when I’m home, I often grab my computer and go someplace else. By the hearth in the winter—I like things warm—in the garden in summer, where my greatest concern is keeping the dragonflies and direct sunshine off my monitor. Life is good.

I don’t need silence. Or special music. Or chattering. Or noise. I need a moment—a heartbeat—to slip into the world where my story lives. It’s an odd sensation: like coming home. And it can happen any place, any time, anywhere I put my mind and heart to the task. Sometimes it feels like a magical power; this ability to transform noise into silence, or the present into the past. It feels like a gift. One to be cherished. And I do.

Now all of that said, I need a place to keep all my stuff: the place where my printer lives and my computer sleeps while it recharges. I have a beautiful studio that my partner, David, made for me a little over a year ago. He customized a huge, mid-century modern teak desk so it fits snugly into an alcove by a window. The window overlooks our big front garden—we have 10 acres on a Gulf Island: it’s like living in a forest park. The view always changes. Sometimes I see sunsets and sunrises. Feral rabbits cavort across our lawn. And deer. The occasional raccoon. And I can peek out and see our long driveway if I think anyone is approaching. But mostly they’re not. Mostly it’s just peaceful and emerald and fine.

At my desk is a very good chair in a colour I adore. Chartreuse. I even like to say it. A suspended shelf in front of my desk holds copies of my novels—for those times when questions come up—as well as basic reference: Gage Canadian and American Heritage dictionaries; a 1931 facsimile edition of The Joy of Cooking; Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Necessary texts. The same shelf also holds some things that are precious and beautiful: one of David’s paintings. Lovely brass votive holders. Things I like to have around.

The studio itself is not a big space, but it’s a good one. When viewed with detachment I realize I’m proud of it. It speaks of a life spent immersed in books. Their creation. Their evaluation. Their contemplation. It’s enough.


Linda L. Richards is the co-founder and editor of January Magazine, one of the most respected book-related magazines on the Web. She’s also the author of five novels, including Death Was in the Picture, which will be released by St. Martin’s Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books in January 2009. She lives in the Gulf Islands with the artist David Middleton and their crazy dog, Jett.