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    My City Life: Lizzie Pook

    The award-winning journalist and author – whose debut novel is already making waves – on down time, owning your creativity and feeling a part of something significant in London.

    Where in London do you live and/or work?

    I live in Twickenham, close enough to the rugby stadium so that we can hear the national anthem drifting in through our windows on match days. It’s a very close-knit road and you can’t pass anyone without stopping and having a chat. It’s lovely. I work from home and my desk in the spare room overlooks the street below. There’s always something going on to distract me from actually writing…

     

    What’s your earliest memory of London?

    Standing in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum, looking up at the Dippy the dinosaur skeleton and trying to count the bones in its neck.

     

    What makes London special to you?

    There is a sense that London is open late for all-comers, and there’s a vibrancy and dynamism that you don’t see in many other cities. I also think the fact that there’s such a staggering wealth of museums and galleries – many of which are completely free to enter – is just incredible. You always feel like you are part of something significant when you’re in London, I think.

     

    How would you describe London in three words?

    Eclectic, iconic, interesting.

     

    What’s your usual morning routine?

    I would be lying if I said I had a standard morning routine! I was a freelance journalist before I became an author and therefore haven’t had set office hours or a boss to report to for a long while. My greatest luxury in life is not setting an alarm. I allow my body to wake up when it needs to wake up (or when my husband noisily gets out of bed), and am usually fairly slow in the mornings, checking my emails and drinking green tea until my productivity kicks in around 1pm. I’ll often work late into the evening and am a total night owl.

     

    What do you do to keep a good work-life balance?

    I live with chronic illness and have promised myself that I will never feel guilty for resting. So I try and do things that allow my brain and body to rest throughout the day – watching my favourite show over lunch or reading a book for half an hour in the afternoon – and if I know that I’ve been overworking (which happens often), I’ll try and schedule in “non-working” days throughout the week if I can afford to, when I’ll meet friends or go to a museum or just catch up with a Netflix show. It’s taken a long time to get used to, but I feel it’s important.

     

    What activities, habits or rituals have you found help you to maintain good mental health through challenging times?

    The very best thing I can do for my mental health is allow myself the time and space to walk as often as I can. It’s not uncommon for me to walk for three hours a day if I feel my brain needs it, and there are so many beautiful green spaces around this part of London – Bushy Park, Richmond Park and the River Crane Walk, where you can sometimes spot kingfishers and owls. I feel very lucky to have all that on my doorstep.

     

    What do you like to do to relax?

    Read, hike and swim. I also watch a LOT of TV. It’s the one thing that calms my noisy brain.

     

    What’s the best book you’ve read in the past 6 months?

    The Stranding by Kate Sawyer. It’s about a woman who shelters from the nuclear apocalypse by hiding with a stranger inside the body of a beached whale. When they emerge they have to decide which parts of the old world they want to keep hold of and which ones to let go. It’s beautiful, brutal and hopeful.

    My earliest memory of London is standing in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum, looking up at the Dippy the dinosaur skeleton

    What are you currently listening to?

    While writing my novel, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, I listened to the Hans Zimmer soundtrack album on repeat for weeks (the Pirates of the Caribbean songs really buoyed me up for my action sequences!). So, it’s either that, or my Spotify playlist of “green noise”, which is like white noise, but instead of static, it’s cicadas, frogs, birds and forest sounds. It really helps with concentration. In terms of podcasts, I listen to a lot of true crime, and I love Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail, as well as shows that explore the writing process, such as The Bestseller Experiment and The Honest Authors’ Podcast.

     

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

    ‘Your muse is your b*tch.’ I heard it during an interview with indie author Shannon Mayer and it changed my life. It made me realise that actually, I am in charge of my own creativity, creativity is not something that “happens” to me. It’s really helped me with writing and taking ownership of my work and productivity.

     

    What thought always puts you in a good mood?

    Whenever I think of my nieces and nephews and their funny little personalities, it makes me smile.

     

    Lizzie Pook is an award-winning journalist and travel writer turned author. She was inspired to write her debut novel, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, after spending time in north-western Australia researching the dangerous and fascinating pearl-diving industry. The book is published by Mantle on 3 March and is available to purchase here.