A real treat this week as Julie Houston joins us to talk about where she writes. Julie’s new novel A Village Secret is out on 14 April 2022. Over to Julie …
For years I’ve had both Utility Room and Writing Space envy. In fact, I’ve been known to declare: I spend the whole of life in two damned cupboards!!
We live in an old converted Yorkshire farmhouse and, despite the house itself being fairly spacious, as well as attempts to manoeuvre this windowless utility room elsewhere, I’ve spent years doing the laundry and the scrubbing of big pans standing vertically while squashed up against myriad coats, wellingtons and boots, sacks of dog food and burgeoning reusable supermarket bags (that I’m convinced have sex and reproduce their number nightly.)
My writing space wasn’t much better. While I appreciate not everyone can have a writing room to call their own, and I should be jolly appreciative of not having had to use the dining room or kitchen table on which to write, my actual writing room was a claustrophobic cupboard in which I not only wrote, but somehow managed to squash in children for private tuition. Very cosy.
When the children were small, we decided to join what was an old – very small – barn onto the actual house in order that they could have a playroom, shelves for books and toys and, as they became older, somewhere to entertain their mates. They put on plays down there, had noisy teenage parties and, because we live just fifteen minutes from the town centre, eventually became a meeting place (as well as dossing-down place after a night out) while they were home from university. Many’s the morning I’ve made my way down there to find unrecognisable (as well as sometimes unknown) comatose bodies stretched out on the large tatty sofas.
But I had my eye on it. Unfortunately, so did my husband who then, for several years, decided to work from home and make it his office, with the garage as warehouse. Last year, with my offspring both now living in London, I made my move. Husband was relegated to the cupboard and I WAS IN.
The wooden French windows and floor were damaged where rain had seeped in as well as the result of having heavy boxes dragged in from the garage. It took a couple of months during the second lock down, but I found workmen who installed new windows, a new floor and acres of shelving and cupboards for all my books, (previously tottering in dangerous piles in the writing cupboard) writing materials and teaching materials. I bought new curtains, an old chair, oriental rug and proper desk (rather than the cheap wobbly Ikea table) on eBay. And installed my piano.
The room, being originally a barn, has perhaps the best views in the house, looking down the valley and every writing day is an absolute joy and pleasure (except when I’m stuck on edits or trying to think up a new plot) to come down here to work.
It’s taken many years, but all comes to those who wait! I just need to sort the utility now!
Well, I do believe I have writing room envy now! Thank you for sharing this journey on my blog and good luck with the new book. Mx
About Julie Houston
Julie Houston’s first three novels GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME, THE ONE SAVING GRACE and LOOKING FOR LUCY were all Amazon Humour #1 best sellers both here in the UK and Australia. LOOKING FOR LUCY hit the #1 best seller overall in Australia. A VILLAGE AFFAIR was the seventh most downloaded book of 2019 and has sold over 300 000 copies in eBook and paperback. She is published by Aria/Headof Zeus and her tenth novel A VILLAGE SECRET is published this Thursday, April 14 and book number eleven, THE VILLAGE VICAR in January 2023. Her seventh novel, SING ME A SECRET won the Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award in 2021.
Julie lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years, she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country. She now just teaches when the phone rings to cover an absent colleague, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the past twenty years. Julie is married, has a twenty-seven-year-old son and twenty-four-year-old daughter and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book.
She hates skiing, gets sick on boats and wouldn’t go pot-holing or paddy diving if her life depended on it.
She is published by HeadOfZeus/Aria and represented by Anne Williams at KHLA Literary agency.
About A Village Secret
A VILLAGE SECRET is published on Thursday April 14th 2022 by Head of Zeus/Aria
When Jennifer goes up to Cambridge University with her head full of the Romantic Poets, she never dreams that she will find her very own Byron. But then she meets gorgeous actor Laurie Lewis, and finds herself living a real-life love poem.
Fifteen years and two children later, Jennifer and Laurie’s relationship is starting to feel more like an epic tragedy. After a series of revelations turn her world upside down, Jennifer will do anything to keep her family together – even if it means moving hundreds of miles away to Laurie’s childhood home in Westenbury, Yorkshire.
As she reluctantly enters into village life – complete with interfering in-laws, new friends and a surprise delivery of alpacas – Jennifer is amazed to find herself feeling happy for the first time in years. But the village holds one last secret and Jennifer must decide once and for all what she wants her future to hold.