Posted by: Elen C | August 26, 2011

Roald Dahl and Technology – Colin Parsons

I have been an author for a number of years and I need quiet to work my craft.  I’ve always had to find somewhere ‘a make do place’ to actually do my writing, which is fine if the places you find are q-u-i-e-t.

I have two grown up sons (one in his late teens and the other in his twenties), which you probably think is a whole lot easier than having a couple of noisy toddlers around breaking the mood…wrong!  They’re both into today’s modern music and that can be a real pain if you need peace and quiet to write.  It’s not fair of me to work in the living-room all the time as my wife likes to watch the telly.  I can’t go to my bedroom when there’s loud music blasting all around, so over the years it’s been really difficult, until last year…

At the bottom of my garden was a stone and breeze-block dilapidated structure, loosely called a Shed.  To be honest I had let it go years ago.  The windows were smashed and the frames were rotten.  The roof had fallen in after years of bad weather…all in all it was knackered!

One day I decided to see if I could make it work as a study.  With a lot of help from family, and after draining my savings, we started.  We removed the old material and were left with four walls, a concrete floor and nothing else!  We put on a new roof and I found a second hand upvc window and door.  I panelled out the inside with a false wooden floor, walls and ceiling; insulating as I went along.  I got someone to run electrical wiring to it for lights and points.

I finished it in September 2010…what a difference!

I can now totally understand why Roald Dahl liked to work at the bottom of his garden.  It’s like working in another world.  The building is only 30ft from the house, but when inside, it feels so different.  There are no distractions to wrench my train of thought.  And with today’s technology, I can run my lap-top with full broadband, for emails.  I can also use my cordless phone down there too.  If I need to print anything, then I use my wireless printer in the house…its fantastic!  It’s not exactly pencil and paper by candle-light (although I do still use these for notes and an idea pad).

When writing, I really need to express myself and ‘act out’ situations.  It feels silly when I’m in the house doing this, but down in my den I can act away to my heart’s content.  I can also read my work aloud too, which I think most authors have to do at some stage or another.  I guess I’m one of the lucky ones to have a study, but I did wait years and years to get one.



  1. Totally agree, Elen! Phillip Pullman does too! You’re in good company. I’m building my own eco-garden office right now – it will be ready in October! Superinsulated, underfloor heating, full of shelves for all my books – and, crucially, 30 feet down the garden! Can’t wait! When it’s done I’ll post some pictures…

  2. Oops, sorry – I realise now this was Colin’s post – sorry, Colin!

  3. I’m envious. My “study’ is our bedroom. My long-suffering wife Derryn would like a bedroom that is a bedroom. I know Stephen King listens to music while he writes. I love music, all kinds, but can’t listen to it while working on first drafts

  4. I have begun to think it’s because your shed is away from the house and all the calls – silent or otherwise – that life in the house unconsciously sends out to you. Am jealous, but alsovery glad you are enjoying your blissful place, Colin.

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