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Joanna Moorhead Interview

Posted on 22 January 2004. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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Writewords talks to Joanna Moorhead, freelance feature writer for the Guardian and other papers and magazines

How did you start writing?

I’m a freelance writer: I write mainly about parenting, women’s issues and health. I write mostly for the Guardian, a bit for the Independent and Observer, and for magazines like Prima Baby, Family Circle and Junior. I’ve written four books, three on parenting. Writing was always the thing I did best at school, and I especially loved those exercises where you had to pretend you were a journalist and write in a ‘newspaper style’. I was a bit hampered by the fact that I went to a convent boarding school in the middle of the countryside, and the nuns didn’t consider newspapers ‘proper reading’ for their girls! In the end I struck a deal with one nun - she passed on the Daily Telegraph a day late, with page three removed so I didn’t get corrupted by all the saucy court cases.

What was the first piece you ever had published?

I started writing in the school holidays for the Catholic newspaper in my diocese, so my first published piece was in the Leeds Catholic Voice when I was about 15.

Who do you write for now? are they regular contacts?

As outlined above - and yes, they’re all regular contacts. It’s a lot easier to pitch ideas to editors you know, and generally speaking it takes a lot longer and isn’t as likely to succeed if you go in cold with someone you don’t know, even if it’s via a mutual friend or colleague.

What kind of subjects/stories do you generally write about?

I write about parenting, health and women’s issues. I did my first parenting piece 12 years ago when I was pregnant for the first time - it seemed a natural direction to go in (I’d done religious affairs writing for a few years before that) as my life from then on was going to be dominated, for a while at least, by children. I’ve now got four children - daughters aged 11, nine, five and two - and a lot of my writing springs from our life as a family, and from the issues I meet as I’m bringing them up. So I write about sibling rivalry because we’ve just had some huge fights, or school reports because it’s school report time, or tantrums because my little one is having screaming fits all the time. It wouldn’t suit anyone who wanted to draw a definite line between a ‘home life’ and a ‘work life’, because it means the line between the two is blurred the whole time. But for me it works perfectly: I love combining my ordinary experiences with my writing, and I gain a lot from finding out about parenting theories, interviewing experts etc.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

sue n at 22:47 on 07 April 2004  Report this post
Any advice for a thwarted but talented travel writer?
Without coming through the apprentiship of a local rag, how is it possible to get that first break? Should you just keep sending the proposals or take the risk of sending a ready made article.

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