Amy Watkins: freelance journalist focus

Amy Watkins is a freelance journalist specializing in travel. She also writes about people, places and food. Her work appears in the Daily Mail travel section and she also has her own blog at

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Amy to discuss her work, elephant polo and the three pieces of advice her father gave her.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I specialize in travel, so I write about people, places, tastes, sights and sounds, but I also enjoy writing about food, arts, entertainments and general lifestyle features. I’ve worked for a wide range of publications and covered everything from eco-friendly weddings to mushroom foraging in the wilds of Wiltshire.

Where are we likely to see your work?
I mainly write for the Mail on Sunday travel section and travel magazines, but I’m about to become freelance full-time – so hopefully you’ll see my name cropping up in more places soon.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Being sent to Thailand to cover the elephant polo championships last year was an amazing experience. It was the first time I’d ever visited Asia and also the first time I’d been on an elephant; so it was a very exciting trip for me all round.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’d love to interview Douglas Coupland as he’s one of my favourite authors and any feature that combines travelling and eating is also at the top of my list: a foodie tour of Italy would be bellissimo.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Reading the news and all kinds of publications, industry websites/forums, word-of-mouth, press releases and any random thoughts that I have during the day.

How can PRs be useful to you?
By keeping me updated about openings, events, trips etc and by letting me know which clients they represent.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is best for me as I’m often away travelling – so any time is good for me.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I find them really useful for meeting PRs, learning more about the industry and also for networking with other journalists/editors.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
I’ve been lucky and worked with some excellent PRs in the past and they were great because they kept me updated and informed – and I try to return this courtesy when I’m placing features.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
At the moment I’m wondering how I’ll pay the bills as a journalist, but if I wasn’t a writer I would love to be a chef – or master cupcake baker.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
Rather predictably it would be on a plane ticket and some food for the trip. I’d love to go to Greenland or the Arctic circle; so I’ll put the grand towards that, thanks.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My father is a fountain of knowledge and came up with three gems that I live my life by: “You can do anything you set your mind to”, “Don’t let the bastards get you down” and my personal favourite: “Never lick golf balls”.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’m off to Cape Town soon, so have been reading Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari about his trip from Cairo to Cape Town. By my bedside are a stack of travel magazines that are taller than me and I’ve been reading lots of random food blogs as I’m launching my own at soon. My favourite so far for pure comedy value is which showcases professional cakes that have gone horribly wrong.
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