Where the magic happens for Rebecca Lim


I love the way Rebecca Lim’s mind works. I also love her work ethic. Sixteen books, y’all. Sixteen! And in exactly twelve days time there’ll be one more when Afterlight comes out in Oz. It’s sort of odd to me that despite never having spent any three-dimensional time together, I feel like I know Rebecca really well – she is supportive, super smart, and kind, and I was so stoked when she received a starred Kirkus review recently for The Astrologer’s Daughter. Anyway, enough from me. Here’s Rebecca answering a few questions on where and how she writes …

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 had to quit my day job to really start my writing career and it was scary. Every day of my new, weird, unregimented life, I’d just set up my laptop on a corner of my daggy pine kitchen table, plant my backside on a daggy pine dining chair, kick my slippers off across the beige laminate flooring in my old house and hope and hope that the words would come, and that someone would want to read them.

We moved house a little while later, but I still just worked at a corner of the kitchen table with a baby, then a baby and a toddler, then two toddlers and a baby underfoot. I wrote most of the four-book Mercy series on about five or six hours of broken sleep a night. (And that hallucinatory quality to my life is probably evident, if you read them now.)

After we renovated our place a few years ago, the old play room became my “study”. But, in reality, it’s still just the playroom with a desk in it, let’s be honest.

This is my desk (especially tidied up for today):

It was handmade in Melbourne in the 1920s or 1930s and I was lucky enough to find it—desolate and hulking—in the corner of a bric-a-brac graveyard in country Victoria. I beeswaxed every inch of it myself in apology.
It was handmade in Melbourne in the 1920s or 1930s and I was lucky enough to find it—desolate and hulking—in the corner of a bric-a-brac graveyard in country Victoria. I beeswaxed every inch of it myself in apology.

I’m proud to say that I wrote The Astrologer’s Daughter (2014):

The Astrologer's Daughter

and my latest, Afterlight (out on 24 June 2015):


sitting at a proper desk, for the most part.

These are some of the things I share my “study” with:


I like to think that Emmett’s unmatched hand colours are there to remind me of the duality of human nature. I also think the girl figurine possibly jumped the shark once too often, which is why she only has one hand. The way in which kids play is a spontaneous, mysterious thing.

But, really, I can write anywhere so long as I can zone out what I call the sound and the fury of other people. I’ve had years of people screaming in my face for words/documents/written advices that were due yesterday, so my ability to zone out just about anything is pretty evolved. I usually plan, plot and research with a pen and notebook, but most of my work just goes straight up onto a screen.

If I have a charged-up laptop and something firm to lean it on? I’m pretty much good to go. Sometimes—when deadlines are truly desperate—I’m the madwoman in the school carpark jabbing away at edits on the computer sitting on top of…Oh my god, is that…a pack of…toilet paper? So yeah, I’m pretty much a free range writer. In the way of the crack addict, I do need to do at least some writing every day. But it doesn’t really matter where.

Any talismans around? Feel like explaining them to us?

My without-fail writing talismans are my old dictionary and thesaurus. They’ve seen me through every office move, every new project, whether I’m writing for toddlers or young adults. I usually have a cluster of books I reference when I’m working on something and you’ll see in the next picture that Bruce Lee and the Cold War are things I’m thinking about at the moment. Those who are familiar with my slightly freaky YA paranormal/mystery/thriller books need not fear that a Bruce Lee-Cold War fusion YA novel is in the works. That would be too out there, even for me.


If you had to get the hell out of there and you couldn’t go back, what 3 things would you take?

If the kids were home, the kids. They would probably take me actually, because I’m a bit vague at the best of times and they’ve just had a school visit from the fireys so they know all about the stay down low and go, go, go and having an action plan (which I never do). Otherwise, I’d take my USB drive of works-in-progress, my dictionary and my thesaurus. The writing talismans are at least 25 years out-of-date and don’t have words like mash-up and smexy in them. But they’re irreplaceable.

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

A room of one’s own is a lovely thing, but not essential (because I haven’t even achieved that yet and I’ve been writing books for twelve years now). Magic can happen anywhere. I still reference old café napkins I wrote ideas on years ago. It’s all good.

Thank you, Rebecca! The other thing I wanted to mention is that Rebecca’s doing a few giveaways to coincide with the release of Afterlight, so check out her Goodreads’ page for more info, here.