Joanne Harris (whose hobbies in Who's Who include "quiet subversion of the system") is the author of numerous hugely popular novels including Chocolat, blueeyedboy and Five Quarters of the Orange as well as a book of short stories and various cookbooks. And she's also recently become a shedworker, documenting her life in the garden office regularly on Twitter where she is @joannechocolat
So we were deighted when she agreed to give an exclusive interview - featuring never before seen photographs of the inside of her garden office - to Shedworking about her experiences at the forefront of the alternative workplace revolution.
Why did you decide to start working in a garden office?
Because I needed somewhere away from the house, where I found that I had too many interruptions and distractions. Working from home is a tough thing to do: most of the time it doesn't feel like work at all; it's hard not to get distracted, and harder still to establish a proper routine.
What does it look like, inside and out?
It's a stone shed, built on the site of an original 1930s wooden one. It has windows all along one side to catch the sun, a roof made of reclaimed stone slates, a lovely slate floor and green oak gables inside. The green oak smells gorgeous. The stone is all local reclaimed stone, except for the lintels, which are new.
The door is oak, as are the window-frames. Although there are only windows along one side, there's a lot of natural light - light is very important to me, and it was built very much with that in mind. I have no running water, but I do have electricity and heating. I try to avoid distractions, so I don't have much in there except the bare necessities - not even a radio.
What do you like about shedworking?
I love the fact that I have a designated place to work. It means that I can "commute" to my workspace (even though that only takes a minute) and "come home" again at the end of the day. Psychologically it's very hard for a writer to ever disconnect from the process of working, and to have a proper space in which to work helps a lot. People know not to disturb me when I'm working there. I don't have wi-fi access or a phone, so there are no interruptions, except from the garden wildlife, which is plentiful, but which doesn't bother me. I have a great view of the garden, too.
Who built the office for you?
My husband Kevin organized it all for me, and the actual building was done by our regular builders, Dave and Adam, who have done lots of other work for us around the house and the garden. Dave is a very creative, imaginative builder and contributed a lot of his own ideas. We wanted something that would be in keeping with the house and wouldn't look out of place, so we decided to build it in the style of a weavers' shed; low, with a lot of little windows. A bit of a vanity project in some ways (and very posh, for a shed!) but so worthwhile.
Do you have any tips for anybody considering working from a garden office?
I think it depends on the person's job, and their prorities. I knew from the start that I wanted to proritize light and seclusion. Others may have different needs. Either way, decide what yours are from the start and work on making them happen.
What is your favourite shedlike structure?
I once stayed in a beach hut on Hawaii's Big Island. For me, it's the only shedlike structure that comes close to rivalling this one...
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