Author Workspace: Robert Bailey
My workspace is a converted attic. A couple years ago, my friend, Paul Landwehr, a builder in Huntsville who has done a good bit of work to our house, transformed this space from a small storage area to the “writing studio” it is now. The signature feature of the room is the cedar walls that Paul installed, which were modeled after a lake house he had constructed. My wife and I joke that it feels like we have a lake cabin in the upstairs of our home, as every time we open the door we are greeted with the strong and pleasant smell of cedar.
The room has a built in desk with a window that looks out over our street. From my chair, I can see the trees that line the back yard of our house and, in the distance, the elementary school that our kids attend. Through the limbs in the trees, I can also watch the occasional car drive by. On the window seal, I have placed a tiny green soldier figurine, the kind that comes in packs with lots of other soldiers that I (and millions of other kids) played with as a youngster. In addition to “playing army,” I also used to put miniature football helmets (the kind that used to come in gumball type machines at K Mart) on top of Star Wars action figures and pretend I was playing a game on my bed, doing the play by play as I moved the figures up and down the “field.” Looking at the soldier figurine is a nice creative trigger, bringing back memories of the first stories I ever made up.
Below the window seal are two handwritten notes from my agent, Liza Fleissig, that she sent with my first advance and first royalty check for The Professor. When I feel my confidence waning, it is nice to glance down and see Liza’s “We Did It!!” and “We’ve come a long way!”
My computer is a 2003 Dell laptop that is so out of date that I don’t even bother hooking up a cable modem anymore, as the internet access had slowed to a turtle walk. One of my goals for 2016 is to break down and buy a new computer, but it will be difficult as I have grown attached to this dinosaur – all of the adventures of Tom, Rick, Dawn, Bo and Powell have hatched on this bad boy!
Behind the desk, there are built in shelves containing books that are important to me, including Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing. I still reach for King’s book whenever I run into any speedbumps during a story. Also on the shelves is a statue of a white English bulldog, which brings to mind “Musso” from The Professor, my Wilson A2000 baseball glove that I wore in high school with a ball signed by Craig Kimbrel in the pocket and the “I Love Dixie” cap that a player on my sons’ little league team (I was the coach) gave me when he learned my wife’s name was Dixie.
In the back of the room where the ceiling slopes down is a worn leather chair that has been in my family for years. I remember reading The Bobbsey Twins in this same chair when I was nine years old. It is still my favorite place to read.
My workspace is snug, but it is perfect for writing in the early morning hours before the kids get up and before my work day as a lawyer begins. Sometimes on weekend afternoons, I’ll bring the laptop downstairs and write at the kitchen table, but, generally speaking, my best time to work is in the studio in the wee hours of the morning, sipping coffee and breathing in the scent of cedar.
Robert Bailey is the author of BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE, available now from Thomas & Mercer. His debut novel, THE PROFESSOR, won the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for legal thriller of the year and was an Amazon bestseller, spending several weeks at #1 in the legal thriller category. He lives in Huntsville, Ala., where he practices law with the firm of Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne.