17 Things: Where the Magic Happens


When it comes to workspaces, some of us are Bradburys and some of us are Christies.  How so?  Ray Bradbury wrote in an office dwarfed by piles of clutter, while Agatha Christie’s space was as tightly organized as her plots.  Where do the Swanky 17ers feel most inspired?  Some of us work in “nerd caves” surrounded by our favorite collectibles; others prefer a space as clean as a fresh page. Some of us have found a quiet nook at home; others dig the atmosphere at our neighborhood coffee shops (bonus points if it happens to be haunted).

Check out SF Gate’s photo essay highlighting the workspaces of famous authors, and join us for a behind-the-scenes tour of where the Swanks work, guaranteed to be at least as entertaining as an episode of “Cribs.”


1)  I actually have several areas in my house that I use for writing, depending on my mood (and laziness about moving). I  have a bit of a Nerd Cave that I’m kind of proud of!

TE Carter, I STOP SOMEWHERE, Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends ’17


Sarah Henson

2)  My husband and I built the desk ourselves, and are in the process of building bookshelves to match. That cup is usually a mug of tea, but there’s always paper and pens nearby so I can work out plot snags longhand.

Sarah Henson, DEVILS WITHIN, Sky Pony Press ’17


Melissa Roske

3)  I work on an iMac, in my bedroom, at an antique captain-style desk. If my desk could talk, it would tell you that it was built in England, moved to Hamburg, Germany, and then spent time in Brussels, London, Munich, and landed, finally, in a New York apartment where it is ridiculously happy. Yes, it is a well-traveled – and much loved – desk!

Melissa Roske, KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN, Charlesbridge ’17



4)  In Switzerland, it’s not easy to find coffee shops other than Starbucks that allow you to sit and work for hours on end. Spheres is one of the exceptions. This was my outdoor office whenever the weather was nice.

Scott Reintgen, THE BLACK HOLE OF BROKEN THINGS, Crown Children’s ’17




5)  In the winter, I often go to Cora’s and have delicious crepes as I write . . . . 

Anna Priemaza summer

5.5)  . . . . while this is my summer writing space.

Anna Priemaza, IF YOU CAN’T FLY, HarperCollins/HarperTeen ’17




6)  The corner of my couch IS a classy spot, hence the dress code.

Jilly Gagnon, #FAMOUS, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen ’17



7)  I created a little nook in our family room from a desk no longer needed at work. They were just going to throw it out, and I was like, nope. I’ll take that.




8)  My writing spot is a little on the dark side. I write during the day in our family-run jazz club. They call me the lady behind the curtain now. The beam of light is where I should be sitting.

Karen Lee Hallam, GLITCH, Georgia McBride Media Group for Tantrum Books ’17



9)  “I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.”
-Flannery O’Connor, who did not have three kids at home while writing, but summed it up pretty well anyway.  Ms. Lemon poses at a desk her husband made!

Sarah Nicole Lemon, DONE DIRT CHEAP, Amulet/Abrams ’17



10) I love my office. It’s located in the far corner of my house and overlooks the woods, which are the perfect place to stare endlessly when I can’t think of anything to write! Besides my computer, books and giant stuffed giraffe, I am surrounded by tons of family photos – some current, some over a hundred years old – which remind me to make the most of my time and to do good.

Wendy McLeod MacKnight, IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG-FACE!, Sky Horse/Sky Pony ’17



11)  My winter writing spot! Basement cafe at my local bookshop!

Katherine Webber, WING JONES, Delecorte ’17


Darcy Miller

12)  I give you . . . my kitchen counter! Piles of half-folded laundry on the kitchen floor are crucial to my writing process, obviously.

Darcy Miller, ROLL, HarperCollins, ’17


Tanaz Bhathena

13)  I’m going to pretend that this is my writing spot.

Tanaz Bhathena, QALA ACADEMY, MacMillan/FSG Books for Young Readers ’17



14 a & b)   While my official office upstairs is under construction, I usually work in my messy bed (I don’t believe in making the bed–lol). Or at the dining room table–which looks waaay nicer

Larissa Hardesty, THAT SUCCS, GMMG/Month9Books ’17



15) I love to work in this little sunroom overlooking the backyard. Sunshine and coffee are requisites. Noses pressed to the glass, optional.

Emily Bain Murphy, THE DISAPPEARANCES, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ‘17



16) My favorite work space is a local independent cafe that’s located inside of a converted century house. Reportedly, the upstairs is also haunted…but thankfully only the staff are allowed upstairs. Heh. The atmosphere of the cafe is cozy, they don’t mind if I sit there for hours writing, and the coffee is fantastic!

Faith M. Boughan, CINDERELLA, NECROMANCER, Month9Books ’17



17)  My workspace is a mix of practical, sentimental, quirky, and inspiring—if I had to pick my favorite parts, it’d be a toss-up between the My Little Pony on my desk (a gift from my dad) and my dinosaur planters. The dinosaurs’ tiny arms hold pencils that say PRACTICE MAKES AWESOME and EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.

Kayla Olson, THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE, HarperTeen ‘17



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