NEWS: MARCH 2020
I’ve just returned from an extended stay in sprawling Los Angeles, and have to say there’s something singularly wonderful about watching a Venice Beach sunset in February.
I was also delighted to be Brits in LA and British Weekly’s guest columnist this month, musing about the importance of writing groups in LA and finding your people.
You can read it here.
NEWS: WINTER 2019
Look at that finger point! This is me wrangling a room full of sportspeople, actors, musicians and TV presenters ahead of a TV show. Do not mess with that finger! Even Sam Witwer, to the left, who’s the voice of Darth Maul, looks terrified. #wranglermarks
NEWS: SUMMER 2019
I’ve been working on lots of interviews and stories while I’ve been in Los Angeles – as well as finishing the manuscript for my book, How To Interview A Celebrity. So sorry for the radio silence but I’ve been in a cave writing!
However, I’ve been let out a few times. One of my favourite shoots was with Denise Welch, at her home in the Hollywood Hills, for OK! magazine. The interview was one of the best I’ve done in a long while – she’s got such an interesting back story – but I also got to produce the shoot with the super talented stylist Henny Letailleur and photographer Simon Perry (and meet for the firs time make up artist Gia Harris). I called us the dream team as it was such a fantastic day on set. Here are few behind the scenes shots.
NEWS: APRIL/MAY 2019
The second issue of ANTE is now live on Issuu!
I couldn’t be more proud of my students. I know I said that last time but I’m even prouder (if that’s even possible!). I love this Avengers: Endgame cover, with illustrations by Terri Bone. I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure at the University of Gloucester and hope to be back to teach again in the new year. Thank you to Ryan, Claudia, Robyn, Terri, Henry, Mollie and Amber for making it a joy to go into work, and to Anna for all her support as I navigated campus and ‘the politics of pop culture’.
In the meantime, my brother and I took mum to Blackpool to celebrate her 80th birthday. She had a thrilling twirl around the dance floor at the iconic Tower Ballroom, which was a bucket list event for her. We enjoyed afternoon tea and mum even got to dance a waltz with a dapper gentlemen (whose name she can’t remember. That’s Babs!).
I snapped this photo of the two of them the day before, after we’d seen the Strictly show at the Winter Gardens. Our visit was a lovely celebration of a long life – and thankfully, the weather held (which as I’m sure you can appreciate is very important when you’re 80 and always need a cardigan!).
NEWS: MARCH 2019
It’s all about magazine covers this month.
The image on the right, featuring the exceptional illustration of Stormzy, is the cover of my University of Gloucester student’s new magazine ANTE. This is their first issue and I couldn’t be more proud of what they have produced.
The second is a cover of i-D from March 1984, which featured Madonna winking at the camera. This is widely thought to be her first UK cover but actually it’s her third. The previous month No.1 magazine featured her, and ten days later Smash Hits had her on their cover (with the coverline ‘Madonna: A lot of cheek’).
They were produced 35 years apart but share a rebellious pop culture sensibility. Working with the students on ANTE and then going back to look at many legendary covers for a lecture I did at Oxford Brookes this month reminds me why I got into journalism in the first place.
It’s not just about the message, it’s also about the artistry.
NEWS: FEBRUARY 2019
This is fun news. I’m now officially a university academic.
Here I am on my first day teaching at the University of Gloucester’s School of Media, in Cheltenham. Apparently (and in tabloid parlance), I ‘rocked’ the teacher/scarf look, which I’m taking as a huge compliment. I thoroughly enjoyed an engaging inaugural day with my students and can’t wait to see what they produce over the next few months.
NEWS: JANUARY 2019
Starting the year with two wildly differing but exciting projects; content creation for Black Ink PR and a writing commission for the Epica Book about the ‘LA Originals’ advertising campaign.
LA-based agency 72andSunny scooped the Epica Design Grand Prix with a striking campaign designed to promote the city’s entreprenuers, manufacturers and craftspeople. It’s not all about the Oscars you know (see the Where’s My Award? video below for more of that).
The agency’s 60 second promo features the music of Kendrick Lamar (see above) and some famous faces who have created and contributed to the fabric of the city including chef Roy Choi, actor Danny Trejo, artist Shepard Fairey and LA Philharmonic conductor Gustave Dudamel.
I was also involved in this piece of hilarious content creation for Black Ink PR. Where’s My Award? A Tribute To Working Mom’s Everywhere, a comedy short, makes some salient and rib-tickling points about award season in LA.
‘Hollywood I’m so glad you made a made a movie, well I made a human! Where’s my award?’ is one of my favourite lines delivered in impeccable style by working mom and PR genie Margot Black.
NEWS: NOVEMBER 2018
I love Strictly Come Dancing and while I was living in Los Angeles I had the opportunity to go to a recording of the US version, called Dancing With The Stars.
I’d interviewed professional dancer Kym Johnson for the Australian Sunday Telegraph and she arranged audience tickets for me and my mum Babs. We dressed up in our Strictly finest – you’re asked to look tea dance smart! – and off we went to CBS studios in Hollywood, which was in walking distance from my apartment. Babs was very impressed at how glamorous everyone in the line looked. But that’s LA for you. People look red carpet gorgeous in the supermarket!
Afterwards, mum ended up meeting one of the most famous women on the planet, Kim Kardashian, whose brother Rob was in the cast that year. However, being Babs she had absolutely no idea who she was except to say that she was a very nice girl! I talk about this most memorable encounter in my book, which is about my career in celebrity journalism (and which is currently being reviewed by a publisher, so cross fingers).
In the meantime, this month I had a chat with former Strictly judge and choreographer extraordinaire Arlene Philips for OK! magazine.
NEWS: SEPTEMBER 2018
Summer’s nearly over and although I’m sad I can’t be too sad. I had the best time celebrating a ‘significant’ birthday in California (my spiritual home). On the day itself I was in Malibu (and the Surfrider Hotel), followed by a few days in Hollywood, Playa del Rey and finally three days on Catalina Island, which was fabulous.
This was the year I remembered what it was like to take an actual holiday. I do a lot of travel writing and while it’s a fantastic way to see the world it involves a lot of work before, during and after every trip. So I totally indulged myself this year and had a proper sun-sea-sand-read-a-book-eat-everything-drink-everything holiday.
I’ve learned that time away from my gadgets is essential, especially after a year which saw me write my first book. My laptop can sometimes feel like another limb so a few days swimming with garibaldi fish, long ocean walks and a margarita or two was just the tonic.
All change now. Bring on the autumn months. I’m ready for a change of season and the challenges that lie ahead!
NEWS: JULY 2018
Oh the splendour!
My Sorrento travel story has been published in OK! magazine and because I love you so you can read it by clicking here.
I’ve never been to the south west of Italy and was immediately enchanted by the citrus scent that seeped into every nook and cranny, the glorious winding roads through picturesque villages and the spectacular views of Vesuvius from the terrace bar of the exquisite Excelsior Vittoria Hotel.
JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION NEWS: JUNE 2018
I had the most perfect day on set working as an interview consultant with Frontier Developments, Attention Seekers and the incomparable Jeff Goldblum. This most erudite gentleman reprises his role as Dr Ian Malcolm in the new Jurassic World movie and – drumroll – is also the voice of the game, Jurassic World Evolution.
Now that the word is finally out, here’s Jeff’s exclusive interview with Ed and Bo from Frontier, plus some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot, which was produced in London under a veil of total secrecy (so much so that a friend of mine convinced herself that I’d spent the day working with Alicia Vikander and the Tomb Raider team – nope!).
ROYAL WEDDING NEWS MAY 2018
Many snacks & cups of coffee gave their lives so that the utterly brilliant team at OK! magazine could bring you this amazing Royal Wedding souvenir issue.
I’m very proud to have been a part of it. #dreamteam #heghanisaplaceonearth
NEWS: MAY 2018
You can cycle up to the Hollywood sign, and when you do, this is what you see. Even though I lived in LA for six years, I never got this near to the legendary sign, let alone behind it. It took travel writing for me to discover what an e-bike is, and my guide Scott, from LAFlyRides, made sure I was able to appreciate the city from this stunning 360 degree vantage point. It was thrilling.
Read about how you too can get around LA without a car in my article for The Independent newspaper. Click here. I used my legs, pedal bikes, e-bikes, the Metro, the bus and Uber to get around a city that most people think is impossible to see without a car. People, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t!
NEWS: APRIL 2018
I absolutely love travel writing – and in fact currently packing for my trip to Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast.
Last weekend my article on walkable West Hollywood was published in The Scotsman’s Saturday magazine. The story got a nice little trail on the cover, see above.
Wafting from diner to book store to park was so different from the usual LA driving frenzy, and I loved that if the walking was too much, I could always use Uber to get me back to the hotel.
NEWS: SPRING 2018
I had an inspiring time guest lecturing at Oxford Brookes recently. I spoke to the MA Publishing students about all things journalism, magazines and celebrity.
Here’s an Instagram screenshot from the programme’s senior lecturer, Alexandra Shakespeare, who quotes part of my lecture, where I talk about how magazines won’t fade into obscurity because celebrities love to be on the cover. We also looked at the ‘Meghan Markle’ effect on sales – in essence, she’s very good for business.
NEWS: ALMOST SPRING 2018 (part 2)
The Oscars are almost upon us and to get you red carpet ready my Beverly Hills travel feature is in OK! magazine this week. I flew glorious Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic and stayed at the iconic Beverly Hilton Hotel. I even had a tour of the fabulous ballroom where they hold the Golden Globes every year (and also Ava Gabor’s marble ladies room complete with a 360 degree mirror so that you can check out your designer gown from all angles). Thanks to the people who fed me including Porta Via Beverly Hills, Cafe Gratitude, Coral Tree Cafe and Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks!
NEWS: ALMOST SPRING 2018
Okay, I know I’m jumping the gun here but I’m desperate for warmer weather and longer, lighter days. Instead of moping around the house this winter, I decided to use this enforced hibernation period to get my book written. It’s proved a great distraction.
I’m already 25,000 words into the manuscript and making great progress. I tend to write home alone but at least once a week I venture downstairs to the coffee shop near my building. This serves two purposes: it means I have to get dressed and look human, and secondly, well, that’s it really. I once stayed home for ten days straight writing a draft of a script and at the end of it Wilson the football from Castaway would probably have disowned me.
Thankfully, my local cafe serves the best coffee in town and so I use the time to sit upright, review what I’ve written and make notes for new chapters (as well as updating my Woman With Spirits travel and whiskey blog – as seen in the photograph).
Still lots to do but this book has been many years in the planning, it’s a labour of love and I’m very excited to get it out into the world!
Let’s cross our fingers we see snowdrops soon but before that, how about another cappucino?
NEWS: CHRISTMAS 2017
Hello from the week in between Christmas and New Year. You know, the week where you don’t know what day it is and eat too much cheese.
But I’m still feeling most festive after spending a few weeks in sunny Los Angeles. It must be all the vitamin D because I definitely didn’t see any snow (only the fake stuff at The Grove). However, work beckons. While you’re eating mince pies and counting partridges in pear trees, I shall be spending much of the holiday period working on my latest travel stories. Here’s a sneak peak (below) of one. Yes, that’s me, the Hollywood sign and an e-bike which is a genius idea. Turbo boost biking!
I’m looking forward to sharing the full story in the New Year. But for everyone, I hope your new year is happy and healthy, and also – politics klaxon! – that someone works out how to stop Brexit from happening. I’m not ready to give up my European paspport. Why anyone would want to shut themselves off from the world is beyond me. I love being part of Europe and having the freedom of movement, and I couldn’t give two hoots what colour my passport is. But less of that (for now), I’m looking forward to 2018 and longer days, more sunshine and exploring new corners of our wonderful planet!
NEWS: WINTER 2017
I’ve just returned from Paris and another fabulous few days wearing my Epica juror hat. Later this week the Grand Prix winners will be unveiled in Berlin.
I had the honour of contributing to the gorgeous Epica Book which is 30 years old this year. My report is on DDB’s “Simplified Stories” campaign for the Belgium Alzheimer’s League. The books have been re-designed to help people with dementia enjoy reading again.
The book they chose to condense was Peter Verbruggen’s biography of Belgium pop star Paul Van Haver, who is known to his fans as Stromae.
Click here to find out how they edited out 8,000 words, created chapter summaries, used shorter sentences and easier words, plus special typography.
NEWS: AUTUMN 2017
After all these years, it’s still a thrill to get a cover story.
This month I got the chance to interview actress Gemma Atkinson for the cover of OK! magazine. Not only is she part of this year’s brilliant Strictly Come Dancing line-up but she’s sending out a fantastic message about health and fitness. Going to the gym isn’t about being skinny it’s about being STRONG. Love it.
Good luck for the rest of the show Gemma!
NEWS: AUTUMN 2017
I’m excited to be joining the pre-selection jury for the Epica Awards in Paris, for the third year running. It really is an honour to be able to judge this magnificent smorgasbord of creativity, diversity and imagination.
If your ad campaign is worthy of being judged by journalists working in media and advertising from around the world, now is the time to submit.
Extended deadline: you have until Friday October 13 to submit. Click on the link above.
Good luck, bon chance – and I’ll see you in Paris at the end of October!
NEWS: SUMMER 2017.
Hello and welcome! I’ve just returned from a wonderful travel assignment to the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. Thank goodness because the summer in the UK this 2017 has been absolutely woeful. Constant rain and grey skies – I can’t even show off my fab new pedicure! So here are a couple of photographs; the first was taken at the magnificent Sky Bar, at the Tivoli Hotel, which has stunning views over the city’s ‘seven hills’, and another from our super fun tuk-tuk tour with my fellow journalists. The article will be published in OK! magazine in September. Spoiler alert – I loved it! Click on the travel writing page above to read about my past adventures. Obrigada!
NEWS: SPRING 2017.
I am thrilled to learn that my script “American Woman” has been announced as an Official Selection at the 2017 Beverly Hills Film Festival, in Los Angeles.