Many Prime Writers would agree with Borges when he wrote that ‘I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library’. Ahead of National Libraries Day on 6th February, we are sharing some of our personal favourites. Here’s Sarah Vaughan, author of The Art of Baking Blind and the forthcoming The Farm at the Edge of the World:
Exeter Library is where I did much of my A level revision – and, more latterly, have done much rewriting of The Farm at the Edge of the World, my second novel. The library has been beautifully revamped since I used it to borrow sheet music and CDs for my music A-level, in the early 1990s, and the quiet room is just that: a cool, grey space suspended above the main library where inhabitants shh one another and cluck disapprovingly if someone dares to answer a mobile phone.
I was there last May, rewriting scenes after roaming over Bodmin moor, and working alongside boys revising for their physics and chemistry A levels, heads bent over laptops and groaning arch lever files. I was there in July, finishing copy edits, while my mum took my children to the beach and I tried to ignore the fact that the sun was shining behind the blinds and I wanted to be with them, too. Apart from the mornings when the baby group met to sing, it was the perfect environment in which to get the novel finished: familiar, dull, with little to distract me – despite the free wifi – and with an air of quiet, studious calm.
It also felt fitting. Below me, on the ground floor, The Art of Baking Blind was on the general fiction shelves; and high above, on my iMac, The Farm at the Edge of the World was being shoehorned into shape. And every time I felt cross about this – which was frequently – I could either pop downstairs for a coffee, or remind myself that at least I wasn’t having to revise for a physics or chemistry A level.