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Where I Write: Maria Turtschaninoff

Posted 11th Jan 2017

We asked Maria Turtschaninoff, author of our brilliant YA title Maresi to tell us a little about the place which gets her creative juices flowing…

Before I had my son I had no trouble writing from home. I liked writing elsewhere, too: cafés, summer cottages in isolated woods, on trains. But my home office was my base. The very first piece of furniture I bought when I became an adult with a real job in my early 20’s was this desk. Back then it was very worn and looked like a map of paint samples, but I loved it. Today it’s a bit too small, especially when I am editing and need to spread out manuscript pages around the computer. Back when I bought it I didn’t even own a computer, can you imagine! It was perfect for writing in my diary and penning letters.

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Now, when I (sadly) write less and less by hand, I really should have something more suited to having a computer on – the ergonomics aren’t great to say the least. But I just cannot get rid of it. It has too much sentimental value. Plus, it’s cute. Alas, there are no secret compartments (I have checked).

When my son was born five years ago, working from home became more of a challenge. Even when he was at daycare there was just so much to do around the house that demanded my attention. I felt like I was always behind on housework, and I couldn’t tune it out during working hours like I had been able to before. So for three years I rented a lovely external office, but my lease ran out and I am back at my own desk again.

It is easier now that our son is older and life feels a little more structured again. Most of the time I can tune out the fact that I am actually at home and focus on writing. Most of the time…

When I really need to get out of the house I can sit for a few hours at my good friend’s bed and breakfast, a three minute drive from our house. When I am there I have no duties, just work, and a friendly daytime ghost who likes rearranging furniture to keep me company.

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In the shelf next to my desk I have my reference books, my collection of fantasy novels and my vanity shelf with copies of all the editions of my books. There are also folders with old manuscripts. And my crazy collection of notebooks – I am a serious stationery addict. Above the desk I have a signed print of a Neil Gaiman poem, “Before you read this”, which is incredibly inspirational to me. As it is with many things you have in front of you every day you kind of stop seeing them after a while – so I make sure to actually look up and read the poem once in a while. It says so much about writing and the creative process. Next to it hangs the first piece of artwork I ever bought, a print by artist Elina Luukanen. I can’t remember exactly when I bought it, but it was after I sold one of my early novels.

On top of the desk stands a can of unicorn meat a good friend sent to me as a gift. It’s an excellent source of sparkles – and has magic in every bite!

In the other corner of my study stands my reading chair. It’s called the Starship Enterprise because while reading I can travel anywhere. The tapestry behind it was embroidered by my great-grandfather, a Russian patriarch. I find it fascinating that the men in that family were good at things like crocheting and embroidery. The woman in the coloured photograph is my great-grandmother at her confirmation.