How I Made the Best Writing Den in the World

I wanted a mix of Hogwarts and Gaius’ workshop in “Merlin” so I set to work…

Fiona Cameron Lister
6 min readJan 9, 2023


My writing den — with steampunk PC, deer skull, bust of Leonardo Image: Fiona Cameron Lister

We all need a place to write — a corner, a couch, a coffee shop or, in my case, a small room tucked away at the back of the house. But I wanted more than a dedicated space and a laptop, I wanted a feast for all the senses, a place to create magic.

My little studio faces north and conventional wisdom says that it should be light and airy. I like moody and atmospheric, so the walls are dark teal, which knocks bland beige into a cocked hat in my opinion.

I had a vision. I wanted a mix of Gaius’ workshop in the TV show Merlin and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, so crystals and potions, quill pens and bottles of ink from a magnificent emporium in Florence, Italy are arranged where I can see them.

My great aunt’s Underwood typewriter which she left to me many years ago is on a shelf next to my desk, in case I forget that I am supposed to be a writer.

I have covered the walls with pictures and objects that I love. There’s a small deer skull found by my late and much-missed rescue English Setter Gassi, some paintings of mine mixing robot hands and natural objects, a silver phoenix sitting on a nest made of chandelier crystals, a trio of jars containing gold, silver and bronze leaf set atop a roll of real gold thread that came from a Japanese museum and ended up with me through the magic of the Internet.

Hermione the silver phoenix. Image: Fiona Cameron Lister

I work on a desktop computer, but when my old one gave up the ghost I decided its replacement would not be an ugly modern black plastic machine. I did some research and came across a former film set designer in France who made bespoke office tech for about the same price as a new PC. He took my cornucopia of ideas: a robot, crystals, steampunk, an octopus… and somehow created the most magical computer set up you have ever seen. I am using it now to type this, my fingers pressing on the keyboard’s funny old-fashioned keys, enthralled and captivated by its sheer magic.



Fiona Cameron Lister

Experienced British writer/editor/mentor in Italy | MWC semi-finalist| Loves words, history, humour, unusual subjects| Contact: