The Author Of One Of The Best Fantasies Of 2019 Walks Us Through Their Writing Space
"My dog interrupts my workflow a few times a day to demand a trip outside, which is good because it reminds me about things like 'other people' and 'the sky' and 'things that aren't work,' or whatever."
Here at BuzzFeed Books, we've fallen in love with Sarah Gailey's latest novel, Magic for Liars, about a private investigator called to a school for magic to look into a grisly murder. (We even named it one of our favorite books of this summer.) We asked the Los Angeles–based author to tell us about their writing space and routine — to show us where the magic (pun intended) happens. Here's what they had to say about their "Giganto desk," the "Infinite Calendar," and, most importantly, the Cuboid.
BuzzFeed Books: Tell us about your writing space.
Sarah Gailey: My writing space is my home office, where I share a double-wide desk with my partner, who also works at home. The desk faces a giant window, so there's plenty of natural light for the zillion plants, several of which sprouted or propagated on this very desk over the course of my most recent manuscript! Not pictured: the dog, who is usually snoozing on the couch behind me. She interrupts my workflow a few times a day to demand a trip outside, which is good because it reminds me about things like "other people" and "the sky" and "things that aren't work," or whatever.
We have a ton of plants (I can quit anytime I want). There's the Infinite Calendar, which hangs on the wall and covers my big career stuff for the next couple of years. I also have several different skulls, bones, tusks, and knives scattered throughout the space, as well as a strange transparent cuboid I found while walking the dog. The Cuboid is my friend and confidant. It knows all. Trust in the Cuboid.
SG: I love writing here for a lot of reasons. First, because it's in my home, which means I never have to wear pants that aren't comfortable, and no one is nearby to bother me. Second, because I've made my setup ergonomic — I have a little footrest because I'm too short for my feet to touch the ground, and I have cushions for my chair and keyboard. All of this goes a long way toward giving me a workspace that doesn't exacerbate my chronic pain, and, shockingly, less pain means I can focus a lot better on work. I also love working here because I get to work next to my favorite person in the world (read: I get to steal their snacks). Plus, this workspace seems optimal for the development of the Cuboid.
How long have you been writing here?
SG: I've been at some version of this workspace for a few years now, in different home offices and at different desks. I've been in this particular home office since November of last year, when I moved to Los Angeles, and this desk setup came together in February, when my partner transitioned to working from home and we went in together on the Giganto Desk.
What's your routine like?
SG: — Walk the dog, feed the dog, pet the dog, discuss pitch ideas and story problems with the dog, tell her she is a good dog.
— No later than 9:30 a.m.: Bring breakfast to the desk (usually this is either guacamole or a Fruit Particle, plus tea or diet Coke). Greet the Cuboid. Check the Infinite Calendar as well as my Deliverables Spreadsheet, which contains every deadline, travel date, and promotional deliverable I need to turn over between now and the end of 2020.
— Social Media Coping
— Headphones (current playlist: Most of the songs from Spider-Verse, plus a large section of my boxing playlist)
— Draft or revise until I hear a plaintive "awoo" from behind me, which means it's time for a walk
— Lunch with whatever book I'm currently reading
— Back to headphones and drafting until 6 p.m. (or 7 p.m., if things are going really well)
Is there any item you *must* have while working on a project?
SG: Just my laptop, really. Noise-canceling headphones are incredibly useful to me, because music helps me find a rhythm in my prose — but the only crucial thing is the information and the story. Oh, and the Cuboid. Gotta have the Cuboid. ●
Sarah Gailey is based in Los Angeles. An earlier version of this post misstated the location.