Workspace: Phil Whitaker

Workspace: Phil Whitaker

Phil Whitaker asserts, ‘I don't write Aga Sagas’

Once upon a time, I used to work in a study. I wrote on a bulky computer, housed on an oak roll-top desk that once belonged to my grandfather. I had various photos and memorabilia arrayed around me, which used to give me a sense of inspiration. These days, though, I write in the kitchen.

Two bits of kit drove the change. The first was my iPad. Coupled with my wonderful Kensington bluetooth keyboard, this has become my 'Martini' workstation - any time, any place, anywhere. No longer tied to a desk-top, I can take myself wherever I wish.

The other bit of kit that brought about the change was the gas-fired Aga you can see in the background of this photo, which we inherited when we moved into this place a couple of years ago. Over the winter months it is jolly cold everywhere in the house except the kitchen, where this behemoth chucks out heat 24/7. We don't cook on it - we still prefer using the gas hob - but, boy, does it keep the room warm.

I was nervous to start with. Would I still be able to write without the talismans of my mementos and photos all around? I soon discovered, with a sense of liberation, that the words flowed just as easily (or as stubbornly) without. So I've become a kitchen-sink Aga-saga sort of novelist - only in terms of place-of-work, though; I'm still avowedly literary in terms of what I write.

Discover Sister Sebastian’s Library by Phil Whitaker

Publication date: 15 September 2016 | Paperback, £8.99

All is not what it seems in this gripping novel about two sisters’ lives: one who leaves her secular Catholic life to become a nun in deepest Africa, and her sister who goes to search for her when she goes missing.

Elodie O’Shea abandons her children to her estranged husband to go on the search for her sister, Bridie. What she uncovers reveals as much about herself, her marriage and her family than her missing sibling.

Sister Sebastian’s Library is a deeply moving exploration of relationships, loyalty and trust. With quiet confidence and perfectly pitched prose, Phil Whitaker challenges our understanding of the essentials that make us human.

‘This gripping, evocative novel.’ —Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

‘Phil Whitaker’s fifth novel, Sister Sebastian’s Library is about family, regrets and responsibility, and what we do with the chance to start again.’ —Anne Goodwin, annethology

‘This novel about two sisters addresses the permanent themes of relationships, loyalty and trust. As one sister, Bridie, leaves her secular Catholic life to become a nun in Africa, and her sister Elodie sets out to look for her when she goes missing, the reader learns of Elodie’s own journey of self-discovery. As she concludes on her return flight: ‘Down there, somewhere, were human beings doing things out of hatred; many others down things out of love. And most, like Bridie and her, contending with the mess and muddle that lies between.’’ —Catholic Herald

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