Room to Write – Liz Fenwick finds inspiration for romantic fiction in Cornwall

Liz Fenwick

Not all romantic novelists dictate their novels reclining on a chaise longue. Liz Fenwick tells us where she writes – and finds inspiration.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Liz Fenwick is running a Publishing Talk Masterclass on How to Create a Setting on Weds 16 Jun 2021. Read more or book online.

When I say I’m a novelist, a romantic novelist, everyone automatically thinks of Dame Barbara Cartland dressed in pink and dictating her novels while lying on a chaise longue eating bonbons. Life should be so good – or maybe it’s what I should aspire to – but the reality is that writing for me happens everywhere.

I began writing romantic fiction when my kids where young and I wrote during school hours in a quiet corner of my bedroom. This worked most of the time and I learnt that I could even write while sitting at the kitchen table while they were doing homework. It became a bit tricky though if I had to write a sex scene and the six-year-old began reading over my shoulder…

At the moment my life is divided between Dubai, London and Cornwall, so I don’t have one special writing space. This crazy existence has destroyed any hope of a set routine. But thanks to the early days of writing with small children around I have learned to write when time permits and can write anywhere.

My physical location as I write is immaterial. What is happening in my head is the important thing and not what is going on around me. In fact, I do some of best writing while stuck at 30,000 feet with no Internet to lure me away from the task at hand.

I write the first draft of my novels in a fast and furious manner on my laptop. The need to get the story down and discover what my characters are made of drive the crazy rush. But in subsequent drafts I spend time writing out key scenes in long hand to use a different side of my brain. This is really important for the descriptive passages where I want to convey the essence of Cornwall as I see it.

As novelists we create worlds for our readers and for me I have to create a bubble around myself when I’m working that holds me in Cornwall. So, sitting in the desert of Dubai, I find I spend an awful lot of the time in the rain of Cornish countryside. I may be looking out at the bougainvillea in the garden but thinking of foxgloves in the hedges.

However, I do my best work while seated in my kitchen at our home in Cornwall. Instead of working at the dining room table in Dubai where I can only imagine the beauty of Cornwall, in my Cornish kitchen I can glance away from the screen and see it. I love stealing down in the early hours of the morning before the family wakes. With a strong cup of coffee, I can enjoy the peace of the morning to work and can look up to see the golden rays of the sunrise creep into the garden to transform the colour from dull to vivid.

So the short answer to where do I write is in Cornwall either virtually or actually. Maybe I should add the chaise longue and bonbons… to the virtual part at least!

This article originally appeared in Publishing Talk Magazine issue 4.

Liz Fenwick is running a Publishing Talk Masterclass on How to Create a Setting on Weds 16 Jun 2021. Read more or book online.

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Liz Fenwick

Liz Fenwick, novelist, expat, wife and mother lives in London and Cornwall. Her début novel The Cornish House published in May 2012. She has since written A Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger, The Returning Tide and The Path to the Sea. Find her at www.lizfenwick.com and lizfenwick.blogspot.com, or follow her on Twitter at @liz_fenwick.