Best-selling crime fiction writer Erin Kelly explains how she makes her North London home work flexibly for the whole family.
As far as literary talents go, London-based author Erin Kelly is a force to be reckoned with. Her first novel The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and best-seller, while her subsequent critically acclaimed novels – including The Sick Rose and The Ties That Bind – have been translated into 25 different languages.
Today she lives in North West London with her husband and two daughters – the place
where most of her writing takes place including her latest psychological thriller Stone
Mothers. “I live in a 1930s semi with pebble dash and it’s one of those houses that looks
nothing like it does on the inside as it does on the outside. There’s lots of bare wood, white
wash walls, original prints and loads and loads of plants. It’s a bit of a North London cliché
really – three bedrooms and a loft conversion”.
North London cliché or not, it’s a flexible space that works brilliantly for the whole family;
whether she’s writing and researching a new chapter while the kids watch a film, cooking in
the kitchen or enjoying a good book in the solitude of her bedroom. Surprisingly Ms Kelly
doesn’t usually write in an office, favouring the main living area of the house.
“I still have a dedicated study with a desktop PC but it’s linked to my laptop. If I’m bored of
one room I can shut it down and go into the living room or kitchen and work there,” she
says. “We only moved into our new house a couple of years ago so our living room has very
minimal furniture in it, which is lovely actually. There’s no clutter, lots of plants, a sofa and a
This free way of working and writing is something Ms Kelly has always liked. “I’ve never
worked in an office and don’t understand how people can do that when you can’t even
make a cup of tea without a group of people wanting to join in,” she says when asked how
she manages to maintain focus. “Compared to the distractions of an office, two children and
a husband seems like nothing. I do also wear ear plugs. The other day my children were
watching the film Sing at deafening volume in the living room, and I was able to carry on
working on a section of my book while I sat with them”.
But how does she manage to separate home life from work and make that all-important
switch at the end of a busy day? “I find cooking helps me transition from work to relaxation
mode. Otherwise I find it hard when the children come home and I haven’t had time to wind
down. I might be holding a really complicated plot in my head and crime fiction isn’t
something I really want to talk to them about”.
Ms Kelly also utilises her time wisely, opting to rise early to make the most of the peace and
quiet in her home. “I can’t work in the evening, so I get up early in the morning and do two
hours before everyone else gets up. That’s probably when I do my best writing. Not only is
there no distraction from anyone in my house but there’s no digital distraction either”.
She also ensures that she keeps work strictly out of the bedroom. “My favourite part of my
house is my bedroom that sits right at the top of the house, and I deliberately never bring
work into it,” she confesses. “Work bleeds into every other room in the house – the living
room, the kitchen and the study – so that’s sacred. The kids don’t come in it very often
either so that’s somewhere I keep purely for relaxing”.