22 June 2010

My interview with Hermione Eyres

I caught up with one of my favorite writers Hermione Eyre to find out how she got in to the industry, her favorite reads, and top tips for budding journo's!

What made you wanted to pursue journalism?

Love of writing and reading. I was a literature student and never very into journalism until I left university (though at university I did once interview Seamus Heaney by fax!).

What journalists do you admire?

Kenneth Tynan, Francis Wyndham, AA Gill, Caitlin Moran, John Lahr, Elizabeth Kolbert (New Yorker writer), Stephen Bayley, Alice Rawsthorn, Suzy Menkes, Jonathan Meades, anyone who knows a lot and wears it lightly

How did you get into the industry?

Work experience at the Independent on Sunday

What 5 tips would you give an aspiring journalist?

Read the newspapers and magazines; keep on top of changes and redesigns in supplements; put your hand to anything you have an opportunity to do; try and file perfect copy the first time round; try and work out what your niche is (not something I’ve managed to do!)

What is a typical work day like for you?

Varies a lot – sometimes I get up, go straight to my desk in my pyjamas and don’t leave until 2am! (This happened yesterday as I had two pieces to file. Not ideal.) Other days I might be at home watching movies in preparation for interviewing an actor. My editor probably considers this shirking but I think it’s essential.

What do you think sets you apart from other journalists?

Ooh. Erm. I don’t know! I hope I can deliver quirky readable well-informed copy. That doesn’t set me apart because that’s what lots of journalists do, but perhaps fewer than you might think.

Who have you most enjoyed interviewing to date?

It has been wonderful to interview my heroes but it’s always a troubled process as the fan inside you wants to gush, but the journalist inside you knows you need to be more objective. To be honest the most fun people to interview are the monsters who are totally unaware of how they come across

What do you like to read most often?

I subscribe to The New Yorker, Vogue and the London Review of Books. It’s really worthwhile, I wish I had subscribed ages ago. I always read the Guardian on a Saturday and skim all the rest as often as I can when in the office. I used to read them all for free in Borders Starbucks, but now they have gone bust I feel guilty about having done that.

What has been the hardest obstacle about your career to date?

Finding the will, energy, application and time required to slave over ever single piece of work I write. And not having enough time with celebrities. Some of them – usually the ones who aren’t very famous yet - will try and get away with giving you 11 minute long interviews, which makes it very hard – not impossible – but very hard to write anything that goes deeper than superficial cr**p

What do you think makes a good interview?

To do as much research as you can. Then forget it all when you get into the interview and try and take them as you see them. Listen to their answers and respond to what you don’t understand or find interesting – don’t stick to your script of questions. With a shy person try to be encouraging and don’t give up needling away, with a ball breaker try to control the flow of conversation so they know who’s in charge.

What is the hardest thing about being a freelance journalist?

I only ever did it for 3 months but it must be tough paying the bills.

How have social medias such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging helped you as a journalist?

I once looked at one interviewee's personal photographs before I interviewed her. It was helpful to get a background idea of what kind of life she has. I felt a bit conflicted about whether it was good journalistic practise but I didn't use it to embarrass her or reveal any private details. She was under a different name but I still found her. Sometimes I put as my Facebook status, ‘I’m interviewing xxx, do you have any questions for them’ but the replies are rarely useful

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