I was working as the Office Manager for a television company when I saw an advert for the Mary Stott Prize in The Guardian. I remember thinking ‘I WANT THAT’ but then I promptly forgot about it until the week of the deadline. You had to come up with five feature ideas, send a one page CV and explain in 500 words why you thought you’d make a good women’s page editor. It’s fair to say I knew shit-all about journalism at that point – but I could already drink like a seasoned newshound so I downed a bottle of wine, bashed the keyboard with both fists, and got my entry in one minute before the midnight deadline.
This pathetically unprofessional approach landed me my first break in journalism. Though I didn’t win, I was selected as a runner-up out of 700 entries, and got to go to a party celebrating 50 years of the Guardian women’s page. My mum got to meet Polly Toynbee, I made a nice frock to wear and I got my first commission – a two-page feature on Random Acts of Feminism.
Thereafter I wrote for the women’s page, the Film & Music supplement, the Guardian Guide and Office Hours. It meant I was able to start a career as a features journalist, which later lead to writing books and ghostwriting.