Where the magic happens for Fleur Ferris


One thing I love about the publishing world is that there is no normal. And every writer seems to walk a different path along the way to getting a book published. But that said, I think Fleur Ferris‘s journey might be more unusual than most! It involves a classroom of students in Sweden, and if you haven’t read about it yet, you can check it out here. RISK came out this month and made Amazon’s Hot New Releases list on the basis of pre-orders alone. I found out about it a couple of months ago when I first saw the striking cover.


Then, of course, I was intrigued by Fleur, and luckily for all of us, she agreed to share a post on where and how she writes. I am in awe of the fact she does it hardcore – that is, doorless! (I am also in awe of the fact that despite being doorless her writing spaces are so inviting and beautiful). If I was a rich fairy godmother type, I would gift her a door, after I’d commissioned David Bromley to paint on it for her. Because that’s the other thing – she’s into art, people. Fleur was too restrained to photograph all of the pieces she mentions up close, but if you want the links I’ve put them in below. Over to you, Fleur. Where’s the magic happen? 

I don’t have an office so I write anywhere I can. I have no set time or place. Risk was written at the kitchen table at home, in the Deniliquin Library while my kids attended preschool, on the lounge (with my computer on my knee) and at a desk in my bedroom.

Bedroom nook.
My desk in my bedroom. Artwork – Pigs Flying (pressed etching) by Wendy McDonald, Colourful Faces (crayon) by my kids & Owl (two-handed sketch on inked perspex) by me.

My day time office. Painting by Wendy McDonald.
How’s this set-up differed over the time you’ve been writing? Like, say, back in the day, did your “office” consist of a soggy drink coaster and broken pencil stub, or some such? 

I moved from working in the Deniliquin Library to working in the Campaspe Library – Risk was edited there (because we changed preschools), nothing else has changed. I still write in all of those other places around the house. When I wrote Risk I needed quiet time, so I got up and wrote at 4 am. When I wrote my middle-grade novel it didn’t matter so much about the noise and my kids played around me and shared my work space with them doing craft. At one stage I had to stop writing and vacuum the glitter out of my keyboard.

Are you someone who has to be in the same bat place at the same bat time, or do you prefer to free range?

I work anywhere and anytime but, I SOOOOO want an office! I’d love to be able to leave all of my work and go back and find it still there, untouched. Writing at the kitchen table with a busy, noisy, messy family is ridiculous! So please, any TV shows who would like to send me off to be pampered for a weekend while secretly building me a really cool work-space or luxurious office complete with library, I am all for it.

After school my day time office turns into this.

Any talismans around? 

No. I have nothing like that. My kids love anything shiny, new, or trinkety, so if I did have something it’s long forgotten and probably in the sand pit or near the trampoline.

Any books that you keep there that have special significance to you as a reader, writer, or person?

I have books around me while I write, but they change with each book. On my desk right now are books by Rebecca James, John Larkin, Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins Pittacus Lore, Christine Bongers and Skye Melki-Wegner. I put Risk beside them for no other reason than I love seeing it sitting on my desk with these books.

Currently on my desk (they change with each book I write).

If, for some unexplained reason (but nothing too bad – we do like you after all) you had to get the hell out of there and you couldn’t go back, what 3 things would you take?

I have three children, so they would have to be on top of my list. But if I can count them as one I would also grab Max the cat, Snowy the kitten and Polly the dog (surely pets could be counted as one?) and my phone, tablet and laptop (surely if kids and pets could be counted as one, so could electronics?)

There we have it – (1) Kids (2) Pets (3) Electronics.

What’s the policy on interruptions? Open door policy? Open door policy with cranky look on face? Door locked tight and hands on ears, shouting: ‘Can’t hear you, lah, lah, lah!’?

I long for a door. One day I’ll have one.

Social media – do you block it while you’re working, or let it come along for the ride?

Sometimes I block it, sometimes I let it come along.

What magic is happening in there right now?

I’m writing another YA novel that I’m really excited about. It’s a contemporary drama/thriller. I’m also learning screen writing and I love that too. A plot for another book keeps interrupting my thoughts, so I’m regularly jotting down scenes for that one.

Was Virginia right? Do we need a room of our own? 

Yes. Virginia was 100% right. It should be a bylaw.

Ever use longhand? Or is it all clickety-clackety? 

The writing is all clickety-clackety. I do some plotting and character development longhand. My shopping lists are all longhand.

What you be sticking up on those walls?

I love original artworks on my walls. I have paintings, collages and pressed etchings by Wendy McDonald, Alison Gardner, Naomi Kuhl and various pieces of work my kids have done. Every now and again I do art lessons or workshops, if I fluke something worthy enough to show, I frame and hang that too. I love David Bromley paintings – a friend has one and last time I was at her house I sat on the couch in front of it so I could look at it while we chatted.  

Thank you Fleur! Hope you celebrate RISK’s release in all the good ways :) xo