A Tour of Don Winslow’s Ranch in Southern California


Don Winslow

Age 63

Occupation A novelist whose books include “The Cartel” and most recently “The Force”

Location San Diego County

His Favorite Room The office in his house on a 30-acre ranch, which Mr. Winslow and his wife bought years ago, when he worked as a private investigator. His wife, a commercial interior designer, decorated the house. Of the Sam Spade-style louvered blinds in his writing space, he said: “She’s all too aware of what I do and how I do it. I think it’s a sly commentary.”

Photo

A collection of objects, including the binoculars from Mr. Winslow’s days as a safari guide in Africa. “Binoculars are the tools of that trade,” he said. “I’m a little sentimental about them, I guess.”

Credit
John Francis Peters for The New York Times

When you were a young man, what was your image of a writer’s home?

I think something similar, frankly, to what I have. Something out in the country with nice views. We used to have a home in what I call a “Cali-fascist” gated community up in Orange County, with the swimming pool and the view of Catalina Island and all that. After two years, I told my wife, “We’re not only bored, we’re boring.” We wanted to raise our kid in a place where he could run around, no rules, where there were different kinds of people.

With the louvered blinds and those binoculars, I keep thinking you’re still a P.I.

There are probably eight pairs of binoculars in the house. We have cattle and horses and other livestock, and we also have cougars and coyotes out here. You step on the deck and scan. But those two were mine when I was a safari guide in Africa. Binoculars are the tools of that trade. I’m a little sentimental about them, I guess.

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A brick, center right, from the old Rhode Island Arena in Providence, where Mr. Winslow and his father would attend hockey games. “Those were some of the best days of my life, going to hockey games with my dad in this dump,” he said. “That brick really brings it back to me.”

Credit
John Francis Peters for The New York Times

That brick looks like it has a story.

The brick is from the old Rhode Island Arena, in Providence, where my late dad and I used to go to hockey games twice a week. They demolished the place to build a new, shiny arena. He sent it to me. Those were some of the best days of my life, going to hockey games with my dad in this dump. That brick really brings it back to me.

Is the saxophone and the John Coltrane sheet music for decoration?

I play the sax. I say that loosely defined, playing. I love jazz. I attempt to play some of that Coltrane stuff. I shut the doors, and hopefully my wife is out of the house.

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“I attempt to play some of that Coltrane stuff,” Mr. Winslow said of the saxophone and music stand he keeps in the office. “I shut the doors, and hopefully my wife is out of the house.”

Credit
John Francis Peters for The New York Times

What do you do in here when the writing isn’t going well?

I’m very disciplined. I treat it like a j-o-b. I’ll pace around a lot. It’s a room full of books, so when things aren’t going well, I get to look at people who have finished them.

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