Laurie Halse Anderson is the best-selling author of young adult novels including Speak, Wintergirls, and, most recently, The Impossible Knife of Memory, out this week. Based on Anderson’s own experience as the daughter of a WWII soldier, The Impossible Knife of Memory traces the struggle of an itinerant father-daughter pair whose constant relocations can’t help them outrun his post-Iraq PTSD. Here, Anderson talks about where she writes her challenging, beautiful books:
I’ve written in every imaginable location; a repurposed closet, the kitchen table, the bleachers while my kids had basketball practice, the front seat of the car when they were at soccer. In airports. On trains. In the break room when I was supposed to be wolfing down dinner. In the back of classrooms when I was supposed to be paying attention. In line at the grocery store.
Then I married a carpenter.
He had built himself a wonderful house in the woods near Lake Ontario and converted the attic into my writing space. It was a great place to read and goof around online, but the acoustics of the house and the presence of dogs and people and other noisy, lovely distractions made it too easy to not write.
So my husband dug out his tools and he built me a writing cottage, in the woods near our house.
It is a magical space. I only do creative work inside; writing, reading, drawing, and sometimes knitting. He used as many sustainable and recycled materials as possible. I heat it with a wood stove and cool it by opening the windows.
The south wall was originally a rose window from a church built just before the Civil War. My husband found it, glassless and forlorn, in a salvage yard and spent months repairing it with his best friend.
The only thing the cottage doesn’t have is a bathroom, which was by design, because my husband was afraid I’d never come home if he installed one.
In 2014 I’m going to spend a lot of time on the road meeting readers and talking about my new novel, The Impossible Knife of Memory. But I promise that when it’s time to put away the suitcase, I’ll head back to my cottage in the wood and start dreaming up a new story.
All writers should marry carpenters.