It’s my mum’s fault that I became a journalist. A love of stories and of language and of people was sown in me like a seed at a time I don’t remember. Mum’s visits to school with her reporter’s notebook and her funny voices during bedtime stories just kept feeding that seed.
Walks in the countryside – at home in Sussex, around Dartmoor and Snowdonia, most memorably – became adventures to find Narnia and to inspire my own stories. Mum would type these stories up for me or correct my efforts with her sub-editor’s marks.
A little later, I would spend hours poring over magazines, dreaming of interviewing pop stars and marvelling in the subtle way that a good caption can make you read a feature.
Mum tried to persuade me as a teenager that a more reliable career would be preferable, but it was too late. So, a journalism degree at Kingston University (near that London) was embarked on and completed with first-class honours. There I was inspired by enthusiastic lecturers and visitors including Lindsey Hilsum and Robert Fisk, who all sought to explore our crazy world.
“A good walk still triggers lots of ideas for me now, though my writing these days features far fewer witches!”
During university and after graduation I did work placements and freelance journalism gigs at The Sunday Times Magazine, French News and IPC Media. Then I got my first proper job as assistant editor at Newzeye, a small publishers and events company in London who made Brownfield Briefing, Sustainable Building, Property Forecast and related supplements. I loved writing about environmental issues there and working on the new website and social media.
After a couple of years at Newzeye, I got a job at Future Publishing and moved to Bath. The professionalism and the passion that my new colleagues had for their magazines blew me away. It was what I had hoped magazine journalism would be! When my department closed down, I clung on at Future as a freelancer, getting regular production editing work.
I disappeared for three years to train and work as a primary school teacher with a specialism in English. I’d always wondered about teaching, and my mum had long advised it as a stable career. But, though I loved my time with the kids and amazing colleagues, journalism called me back.
In September 2016 I returned to freelance journalism, picking up writing and production editing work at Future Publishing, Immediate Media and beyond. A good walk still triggers lots of ideas for me now, though my writing these days features far fewer witches!