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Slightly Foxed Interview

Posted on 09 February 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 Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood, the editors of new magazine Slightly Foxed

Tell us something about your background.

Gail and I met in 1998 when I began working as a reader, and then as an editor at John Murray, where she was already managing editor. She had wide experience of publishing, having edited, and commissioned, an impressive number of prize-winning non-fiction titles, while I had spent most of my working life as a journalist and book reviewer, on the books and features pages of the Sunday Telegraph and other national newspapers. In 1998 John Murray was a smallish independent publisher with a long history and a wonderful non-fiction list that included many of the great classic travel writers, as well as poets like Byron and Betjeman. But in 2002 it was taken over, and Gail and I both parted company with the firm. It was at this point that Gail had the idea for an elegant and well produced quarterly magazine that would concentrate on books that had stood –- and ones that would stand -- the test of time, and she asked me to join her.

Why did you start the magazine?

I think our experience of being taken over by a big company, where editorial standards and content are often considered somewhat less important than how to market a book, where the publicity budget is concentrated on a few ‘big’ books, and where everything is geared to the demands of the big bookshop chains, made us feel we wanted to strike a blow for the small and individual, for books that last on their own merits rather than the kind of ‘manufactured’ 7-day-wonder books that get the big publicity budgets, as well as for independent bookshops and publishers. We felt there was an audience of readers who were tired of seeing the same books reviewed in all the nationals, and who felt unhappy in the supermarket atmosphere of the big chain bookshops. Our aim is to fill a gap for them which a friendly local bookseller might once have filled by introducing –- or even reintroducing –- them to the thousands of good books that are in print, but which never appear in the review pages, or sometimes even on bookshop shelves.

What kind of content will it have?

Each issue of 96 pages will recommend 30 to 40 books, both fiction and non-fiction, old and new. We’ve lined up some excellent contributors –- some well-known, others not –- and more come up all the time. We’ve found that what works best is for contributors to write about their own personal enthusiasms –- books that they love and that have influenced them, to which they return for pleasure, comfort or escape. We love the funny, the eccentric and the offbeat, and we encourage contributors to write in a relaxed and personal way. What we want to avoid is the ‘lit crit’ approach.

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

old friend at 07:55 on 18 February 2004  Report this post
All Success to you ladies. I note the first edition is due in March 2004. I do appreciate the many challenges on the advertising/promotion and distribution aspects that any new magazine has to face. I hope your publication is a rip-roaring success, and I shall certainly read the first edition.


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