Sense of Place:

Tim Walker, author of Completion

Tim Walker lives with his wife in California, where he is the Los Angeles correspondent for the Independent. Completion is his first novel and it is out now in paperback. Here he shares with us his writing space, surrounding views of Los Angeles and his love of cities.

I live on the side of a hill in Echo Park, just north of Downtown Los Angeles, and I work in a small den next to the sitting room, just west of our television. That’s my next book, distilled to colour-coded Post-It notes and stuck to the wall beside the desk.

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Behind me as I write this is a big map of the US. I’ve been the Los Angeles correspondent for the Independent since 2012, and I’ve been trying to travel to as many states as I can. I count 17 so far. Sadly, none of them was Hawaii. But California alone could keep me interested for years.

My first novel, Completion, was written beneath greyer skies at two flats in different neighbourhoods of north London. Like this one, though, they both had the five crucial elements of any home office: desk, chair, laptop, bookshelf, big window.

The shelf holds several books for research and inspiration related to whatever project I’m working on at the time; some longstanding personal favourites designed to motivate me; and a selection of others that I haven’t read yet, but that make me appear smart, cool and/or interesting. There are also some collectible toys that I once bought on a trip to Tokyo. My wife can’t stand them.

The window is for gazing out of whenever I’m procrastinating, which is about 80 to 90 per cent of my writing time. A half-decent view is essential. Mine includes an overgrown bougainvillea, blue sky and distant palm trees.

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Sometimes I can see squirrels tight-roping along the power lines, or news choppers hovering close to the horizon. Despite its urban sprawl, LA is positively teeming with wildlife. Our small garden regularly hosts hummingbirds, butterflies, raccoons and possums. Yesterday, I kid you not, I watched a hawk devour a smaller bird for breakfast while perched atop a nearby telegraph pole.

In the afternoons, to collect my thoughts, to compose a difficult sentence or just to waste half an hour, I walk down the hill to a trendy coffee shop for an iced latte, or run up it to enjoy the view of the city. To one side there’s a perfect view of Downtown.

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In the other direction are the Hollywood Hills. Squint and you can almost make out the Griffith Park Observatory, and behind it the Hollywood sign.

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Now and then, I daydream about moving to the country to keep chickens, grow my own veg, write all day. But I love cities; they’re almost as inspirational as the people who live in them. Completion was written in London, and mostly set there. Don’t be surprised if my next book takes place in LA.

Completion is out now in paperback.

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