Where the Austen Authors Write

Can you guess which Austen Authors write in bed? Do you know which one pedals on her recumbent bike while she types on her laptop? Or which one has an office in her closet? Each author has different and sometimes quirky habits for getting the words on the page. Read on to learn about our writing spaces. Click on the individual pictures if you want to enlarge them.

Melanie Schertz

My world is full of chaos and disorder. And after fifteen years of doing reports at crime scenes, first handwritten,  then on computers in the car (MDT), I am flexible on not needing a specific place to write.  Usually I write while sitting on my bed. At the moment,  I don’t have a couch or comfy chair (have been in stage of remodel for over a year), so I use my bed as a couch, chair, and work station for writing and jewelry making.   I also have to have sound. Movies, TV shows, music, something is on constantly. So my method is madness…chaos and disorder.  I can play the same movie five times in a row because there is something about the tone of the movie that creates the needed background noise for me.

Regina Jeffers 

regina's chair
Regina’s Chair
regina's office
Regina’s Desk

I separate where I write my novels from where I word process and edit my novels. I need the “disconnect” in order to separate the steps. I write my novels in spiral notebooks while I sit in an arm-chair.  Normally, there is a cup of tea sitting on the nearby table. I brew my own – no American tea bags for me. One can also see my journal sitting at the side, along with my Bible. This is where the creative process comes about.

Once I have written the book, I retreat to my “office” space to do the hard work. My office is the smallest of the three bedrooms in my North Carolina home. From the window, I overlook the curve of the cul-de-sac upon which I live. Not much happens in this small incorporated village, something I appreciate. It is quiet and relatively crime free. (For more about Regina’s office, see: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/my-writing-space/

Anna Elliot

Ninety percent of my writing for the past couple of years has been done sitting on my bed while nursing my youngest and awkwardly balancing my laptop on my knees.

Honestly so much of my writing journey has been letting go of everything that I thought I needed to write, and discovering that I can actually write no matter what. I would have sworn I could NEVER work under my current normal circumstances, but it turns out that I can; I’ve written ten books of my upcoming series that way. Is it good for my back?  Emphatically no; I’m sure I’m a chiropractor’s dream (or maybe nightmare!). But the words are getting written, which is good for my soul. 🙂

Jennifer Petkus

jennifer petkus
Jennifer’s desk

There’s not a lot to be said about my writing space. I sit at a desk in my living room. Our house has a very open floor plan (there are only two doors on the whole main floor and only two downstairs in the basement). My desk is slightly angled to the front door so to someone coming inside the house, I look like the receptionist. I write on my 27-inch iMac. The monitor is so large I can’t see over it without standing. Next to it is a 24-inch monitor I use so I can multitask. I’m a web developer as well as an author, so I often have Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, BBEdit, three browsers and Windows emulation all going on at the same time.

There are two finger puppets attached to the 24-inch monitor, Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes. My cat Rocky often shares the desktop with me while my dog Hemingway lies on the floor, although the monitor blocks my view.

I sit underneath a skylight and there are lots of windows. Sunlight’s pretty important to me. I can’t write while listening to music or watching TV, although I can proofread while the TV’s on. I write best first thing in the morning or late at night just before going to bed. Proofreading is done at night. I generally like silence.

Cecilia Gray

cecilia's chairAfter donning sweatpants, I sit in a large armchair with enough room to pretzel my legs beneath me. My laptop rests where its name implies….on my lap nestled at my knees. I keep a glass of water within reach. I don’t have a schedule–just opportunity in the time between work, volunteering, sleep and my social life, a scant five or six hours a week. The TV streams Hulu. My browsers are open and set to push notifications on email and social media accounts. Procrastination is a skill set, and I am very skilled. I pause at every conceivable question raised by my writing – Is mutton available in the fall in London? – and inevitably that search leads to a cat meme. It is a miracle I produce anything coherent with this schedule–perhaps the jury is still out on that. 🙂


P.O. Dixon

PODixon Writing Places
P.O. Dixon’s Writing Without Sitting Space

I’ve often read that one should not sit too long. I’ve even read that one should not sit at all. I’m a writer. Writers sit. Right? To own the truth, I know the adverse effects of sitting all day firsthand. A quick glance about my office, where I do most of my writing, shows my attempt to address this writers’ dilemma. When I’m not cycling, I’m literally balancing myself on an exercise ball. I haven’t fallen off yet, which tells me I’m doing it right.


Brenda Webb

BecauRebecca 1se I have to hRebecca 2ave absolute silence when I write, the only way I can guarantee that is by going into a room and closing the door. I have a very small house, so I ‘carved out’ a writing space in my bedroom by placing a beautiful cream-colored room divider between my desk and the rest of the room. I happen to have a window in my ‘office’ and I love to open the curtains wide and pretend that I am outside for I hardly leave the room when I am writing. That lifts my spirits when I am stuck in the house. The only distractions at this point are the two Siamese kittens we recently acquired. They, along with our older cats, love to sleep on Rebeccamy desk, or occupy my chair the minute I stand up. So I find myself talking to, petting or moving them when I should be writing. Oh, well. Babies grow up fast so I will enjoy them while I can. By the way, I almost cleaned up the office for these pictures, but decided to show the real, messy deal.





Rose Fairbanks

Rose’s new red desk
Rose’s closet office

We moved the other week and decided to use the walk-in closet as an office for me. I just started writing during the week and today is actually my first day home trying it out with my daughter home and the babysitter here. I think I will really like it, but I must admit writing three feet from my bed is a hazard! Other than that, I love that this desk (brand new) is red. Red is my color! And it’s got plenty of space for the laptop and a notebook or two to be sprawled out so I can consult notes and outlines. Also, the closet provides a good bit of sound insulation.





Katherine Reay

Katherine’s desk

Here’s my messy desk. I love to write in silence—need it really as there is so much chatting going on in my own head. And the thing I’ve found beyond helpful is the big screen my dad gave me a few years ago. I can then have research up on my laptop and the manuscript right in front of me. It’s lovely.

I’m also particularly fond of the elephant above my desk. I consider myself very elephant like—great long term memory (short, not so good), loyal and no vertical jump. 🙂

Joana Starnes

I’m not very particular about where I write, as long as there’s enough peace and quiet for me to listen to the voices in my head 🙂

If the house is quiet, I sit at my desk and tap away. When I’m stuck I pop out to the back garden, sit on the steps with a cup of coffee, listen to the birds (and the planes flying towards Heathrow 🙂 ) and ponder what the characters would do next.

The Major's bench
Joana’s Major’s bench

If the house is busy, as it often is, I try to hide away for a couple of hours or so, with a fistful of ballpoint pens and a very fat notebook. Over the years, large chunks of my books were written in the oddest of places. Coffee shops. Beer gardens. A picnic table overlooking a Cornish beach. A wooden bench on a Derbyshire campsite at dawn, when everyone was still asleep. Under a tree, on Mr Darcy’s famous ride from Lyme Park (that was the greatest treat!). Under a gazebo in the garden of a Bath B&B, in the middle of a massive downpour (that was pretty scary and I had to dash in when it suddenly turned into a fierce thunderstorm). But my usual hiding place is a lot more peaceful than that. It’s a bench on the green, not far from home. A lovely spot, very beautiful, very quiet. A great many scenes from my last two novels were jotted down there, on this bench bearing the inscription ‘In memory of Major H. V. Rees’. I’m very grateful to the Major for letting me sit and dream on his bench, so if you come across Major Sir Henry Vernon-Rees in The Unthinkable Triangle, now you know where the name came from.

Back garden
Joana’s back garden


Leenie Brown

Writing space
Leenie’s dining room table

I am nomadic writer.  Comfort is crucial and a change of scenery often desirable.  Currently, my favourite place to write is the dining table.  It sits in front of a window that looks out onto the street and is of a height that allows me to choose between sitting or standing.  It is not, however, the only place I write. I can also be found in the laundry room, on the couch, in the kitchen, in a corner of my bedroom, or even outside on the deck in nice weather. But no matter where I am writing, I am never without my headphones, music, and the internet. Music is the food of my muse, and Youtube is my cupboard, although I do have an emergency stash of muse food on my computer and my phone.  When life is crazy and my mind is wandering, when I need to feel that particular emotion, music is the fastest way to block out the crazy, calm and focus the mind, and stir the emotions ? no matter where I am writing.




My view
The view from Elizabeth’s chair

Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth sits in the chair with the brown blanket
Elizabeth sits in the chair with the brown blanket

I like to write in my living room next to the fireplace, especially in the colder months. There’s something about being next to an open
fire that sets my imagination free. I also like that from this chair I can see out the large window to the glorious magnolia tree that takes up almost the entire front yard. This spot has views to the stairs, sunroom, kitchen door, and dining room, but I write best when no one is home. Even when the family is home, I will stubbornly cling to my spot through all the noise and hubbub until I’m forced to take refuge upstairs. I like to open the front door so I can feel the breeze coming through the screen on my left and the fire to my right. It’s frightfully decadent to have the fire on and the door open, I know, but maybe that’s what makes it work so well.


Rebecca Jamison

Nook Rebecca 2
Rebecca’s desk
Nook Rebecca
Rebecca’s light-up pen

I have two writing tools that help me a lot. The first is my light-up pen. I get a lot of ideas at night, so I keep a light-up pen at the side of my bed to write them down. Otherwise, they are gone forever. My second tool is my really old laptop. It is so old that it doesn’t have a firewall. That’s why I love it so much–I’m too scared to ever access the internet while I’m writing on it. (I have to do my research when I’m not actively writing.) I usually write at a desk in my bedroom, but I also like to write at the library. Sometimes when I’m revising, I put the laptop on top of my tall dresser, so I can step back and forth to music while I write. Otherwise, I need everything quiet.



30 Responses to Where the Austen Authors Write

  1. So interesting to read the different ways our lovely authors create their works. I love seeing the beautiful homes and gardens! Even the cats are gorgeous! Would love to see what Hemingway the dog looks like. 🙂

  2. What a fun post. These behind the scenes peeks have been from the sublime… the stationary bike… to the truly needy… poor Rose’s closet. We must get you out into the daylight., Rose 🙂

    This was delightful. Thank you. Now I shall pluck my rather chubby cat from my lap and continue to write.

  3. I loved seeing everyone’s writing space. Thanks! The one item I really want is that light up pen. I also get ideas during the night, but most of the time write them down in the dark. Let me tell you, I have gotten very good at deciphering code, though I would rather not.

    • Jen, have you seen that Seinfeld episode where Jerry writes something down at night and can’t read it in the morning? I so relate. One of my kids got the light-up pen at the NRA museum in Virginia about 3 years ago. I’m not an NRA fan, but I had to go back and get ten of them. I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else. The pen is mightier than the gun, right?

  4. It was fun getting to know a little about how each author writes. Some need quiet, others noise, some chaos and others order. Thanks for the peaks into how you create those wonderful, fun stories.

  5. Jennifer and Brenda, you are brave in having feline supervisors (I know because I have one). Mr. Rocky and the Siamese are soooo cute that I could just sweep them up to hug and kiss them!!!! Artemidora sends her best to your babies. Personally, I am rather an old-fashioned writer: I use a real fountain pen which needs to be inked manually and multiple notebooks. I’ll only input the third draft into the computer. Artemidora likes to sit on my lap — and I do, too. 😉

  6. I love this post! I have learned that I am the only messy writer it seems. 🙂 But, I love to see where everyone else writes. AND I have decided I would love to join Joanna Starnes in her writing spaces. When can I move in, Joanna?

Your thoughts are precious!