I began writing for my university newspaper when I was a student in Newcastle but I consider my writing career to have properly begun in Tokyo where I lived in the 1990s.
My first job was as a night editor for the Asahi Evening News, gathering and ordering news stories from the wires for the perusal of bleary-eyed editors who would come in at 6am. My shift started at midnight and the newsroom was huge and dark and entirely empty except for me and one sports editor who seemed to sleep on a sofa tucked away in one corner. One of my jobs seemed to be to wake this man at 5am and ignore him as he stretched and yawned and stumbled around the newsroom, toothbrush in hand. I then moved to Mainichi Daily News to write book and film reviews, proofread copy and write columns for its sister publication Mainichi Daily News. I didn’t have to wake anyone up at this newspaper although I was required to accompany my always amiable boss to karaoke.
So much has changed since then, but what has remained the same is the importance of great copy, interesting stories and quick engagement with readers.
After Japan, I lived in London (writing news and features for a trade journal), then Italy (writing fiction as I raised two babies), then Malta (working as a freelance features writer, editing an in-flight magazine, writing copy for advertisers and proofreading a monthly design magazine) before returning home to London.
From features on foreign adoption to Father Christmas, asparagus production to interior design trends, I really have written it all. I’ve interviewed opera singers, criminals, waiters and nuns, ensuring that interesting voices are heard, stories are shared and publications have original content.