The Crime Readers' Association

Where I write and why it matters, by California-based author Dylan H Jones

11th April 2017

Today, there’s a commotion in the cafe.

It’s seven fifteen on a Sunday morning and the barista is nowhere to be found. In the kitchen, the mostly Mexican cooks and servers are shrugging their shoulders and offering me what’s left of the drip coffee, which if I recall, is bitter and lukewarm. It’s not the way I like to start my Sunday morning writing ritual.

My friend and I like to call these “first world problems” – the crema on my espresso isn’t crema enough; the Pinot is not chilled to the correct temperature; the crust on the wood-fired pizza is too thick; the almond milk is too sweet. It’s all nonsense, of course, and at least we can poke fun at our own absurdities. Intense self-awareness, I begin to believe, is the foundation of a good writer.

I write in the cafe, a lot. I take pleasure in the buzz of life, the snippets of conversation, the burble of life’s soundtrack humming in the background. I wrote most of my debut novel, Anglesey Blue, here, amidst the office workers, plumbers, web designers and life-coaches that seem to spend as much time here as I do. The cafe has also become my default office space. It’s how I justify the expense of $4 cappuccinos: rent a desk every month in a collaborative workspace with free drip coffee and an overabundance of lushly-bearded young chaps in flannel shirts, or claim my favorite table and let life inspire me? It’s no contest.

I live in Oakland, California. Here, the vibe is hipster central meets old town tradition. Where I write matters, not just because it gets me out of the house, it also connects me to something bigger. I’ve made some great friendships here in the cafe, met fellow writers also working hard on their craft, asked a handful of locals to be readers for my novel, none of which would have happened sat at my kitchen table, cursing out the dog when the muse failed me.

My day job is copywriting for  tech clients, I’m constantly asked to develop website copy, banner ads, video scripts etc. It’s the gig here in the Bay Area: if you’re not in tech you’re not in, period. But that copywriting matters too, not just to pay the bills. It’s taught me brevity, storytelling and how not to waste a single word. These are the lessons I bring to my novel writing every day.

As I’m pounding away on the keyboard, writing the sequel to Anglesey Blue, imagining a world thousands of miles away and devising cunning new scrapes for my detective, Tudor Manx, to overcome, it’s comforting to know that when I look up, prepare for re-entry, there’s another world to engage with.

Cafe writing isn’t for everyone, but for this author, it works. And, once that pesky barista shows his face, I expect the words will start flowing again, rich and satisfying, like a freshly pulled espresso.


Dylan H. Jones is an Amazon Best-Selling Author. His debut novel, Anglesey Blue, a dark slice of Welsh Noir, was released by Bloodhound Books on March 1st2017.

Most days he can be found at Café Triste, Oakland, working on the sequel.

Anglesey Blue is available in both Kindle and Paperback.


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